Board developing VAD oversight, reporting standards


Funeral lily

Victoria has announced the makeup of its Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board, including a pharmacist

Former Supreme Court judge Betty King QC will chair the Board, Victorian Minister for Health Jill Hennessy has announced.

Ms King is one of Australia’s most pre-eminent judicial officers, serving as a Supreme Court judge in Victoria for ten years before retiring in August 2015.

Ms Hennessy has also appointed leading ICU specialist Charles Corke as Deputy Chair.

Nirasha Parsotam, pharmacist and Bupa Head of Health Systems Strategy and Integration, will also sit on the board.

The Board is expected to spend the next 12 months developing the highest standards of oversight and reporting, including how cases will be reviewed.

It will also outline appropriate procedures for mandatory reporting by health practitioners and work with the experts to develop guidelines, protocols and training for clinicians.

It has been appointed to a six-year term and will review the Act after five years.

Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying framework contains 68 safeguards, and is described by the state government as “the safest, and most conservative, in the world”.

“The Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board features a broad mix of legal experts, health practitioners and administrators, researchers, carers and the community,” said Minister Hennessy.

“We’re proud to be giving Victorians with terminal illnesses the choice they deserve at the end of their lives.”

The new board also comprises:

  • Margaret Bird, geriatrician and Clinical Director of Eastern Health Supportive and Palliative Care
  • Molly Carlile, registered nurse and Palliative Care South East Ltd chief executive
  • Mitchell Chipman, oncologist and palliative care physician, Victorian Breast and Oncology Care
  • John Clements, carer and Safer Care Victoria Palliative Care Clinical Network Insight Committee Member
  • Sally Cockburn, GP and broadcaster
  • James Howe, neurologist at the Calvary Health Care Statewide Progressive Neurological Disease Service
  • Danielle Ko, lawyer, GP and palliative care consultant
  • Margaret O’Connor, Emeritus Professor of Nursing at Monash University and Clinical Research Consultant at Melbourne City Mission Palliative Care
  • Paula Shelton, lawyer
  • Melissa Yang, carer and physician at Western Health

The appointments come at a time of renewed interest in Voluntary Assisted Dying at the Federal level.

Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm has given notice of a motion to force debate and allow a free vote on his Restoring Territory Rights (Assisted Suicide Legislation) Bill.

Senator Leyonhjelm says his bill has support from a number of Greens, Labor and Crossbench senators.

“Victoria legislated for assisted suicide late last year, and although similar moves have been narrowly defeated recently in NSW, Tasmania and South Australia, at least this is evidence of democracy in action,” Senator Leyonhjelm said.

“While my bill will not automatically make assisted suicide legal in the territories it will at least remove a nonsensical law based on the tenet that some Australians are entitled to more democracy than others.”

He presented the motion last week and the Senate is now set to debate whether the territories will be able to legislate for Voluntary Assisted Dying.

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