At the 2014 Victorian election, the VEP stood 10 candidates across five Upper House regions:
- South Metro
- North Metro
- East Metro
- South East Metro
- East Victoria
The 2014 campaign helped usher in a parliament that included strong advocates for voluntary euthanasia.
The VEP (Vic)'s focus in 2014 was upon law reform aimed at providing medical assistance, with appropriate safeguards, for those experiencing unbearable suffering or a terminal or serious illness.
A vote for the VEP Victoria in the 2014 election was a vote to have voluntary euthanasia referred to the Victorian Law Reform Commission, with a view to the Commission reporting to the Parliament.
As we now know, instead of having our issue referred to the Victorian Law Reform Commission, a Parliamentary Inquiry Into End of Life Choices was set up in May 2015 to consider questions related to a range of end of life matters. The Victorian Legal and Social Issues Committee was composed of three Liberals, three Labor MPs, one Green, and the leader of the Australian Sex Party, Fiona Patten. During the 10 month inquiry the committee received more than 1000 written submission and held 17 public hearings. It heard from doctors, nurses, palliative and aged care specialists, legal experts, ethicists, academics, religious bodies, community organisations and from the terminally ill and their families. Members of the committee also travelled overseas to study the experience of countries where voluntary assisted dying (VAD) is legal.
On 15 June 2016, the Committee tabled its final report, which included recommendations on palliative care, advance care planning and assisted dying. One of its key recommendations was the enacting of legislation to make VAD available for people who are terminally ill. Although the committee had a Victorian-focus, the report has implications for all states of Australia.
The rest, as they say, is history.
In November 2017, Victoria became the first Australian jurisdiction to legalise VAD since the Northern Territory’s short-lived Rights of the Terminally Ill Act was made illegal by the Federal Parliament in 1997. The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, launched by Daniel Andrew’s Labor Government, passed in the Lower House on 20 October, was slightly amended and then passed in the Upper House on 22 November. The amended bill was then ratified in the Lower House on 29 November 2017.
Under the legislation, Victorians with a terminal illness who have less than six months to live will be able to obtain a lethal drug within ten days of asking to die, after completing a three-step process involving two independent medical assessments. They must be over the age of 18, of sound mind, have lived in Victoria for at least 12 months and be suffering in a way that ‘cannot be relieved in a manner the person deems tolerable’. The person must administer the drug themselves, but a doctor can deliver the lethal dose in rare cases where someone is physically unable to end their own life.