The Victorian Government has brought together 13 health and medical experts, including a PSA representative, to start implementing Victoria’s voluntary assisted dying laws

Jarrod McMaugh, a pharmacy owner in Coburg, PSA Victoria vice president and AJP contributor, is representing the PSA on the taskforce.

It will be chaired by Julian Gardner AM, a lawyer and immediate past Victorian Public Advocate.

Mr Gardner was a member of the Ministerial Advisory Panel, which helped draft the laws that passed last November.

Also in the group are the AMA Victoria’s Dr Catherine Mandel, Professor Dale Fischer of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, palliative care physician Dr Greg Mewett and Emeritus Professor of Nursing at Monash University Professor Margaret O’Connor AM, among other key stakeholders.

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Implementation Taskforce met for the first time on Tuesday to start preparing the community and health sector for the laws that come into force on 19 June 2019.

Victoria is the first state in Australia to pass voluntary assisted dying laws, and its government says the laws give people with a terminal illness access to a safe and compassionate voluntary assisted dying system.

With comprehensive safeguards and rigorous protections, the system is the safest and most conservative in the world, it says.

“PSA is involved because this is an important piece of legislation that will impact on the practice of pharmacists, regardless of whether the participate or not,” Mr McMaugh told the AJP.

“While PSA neither supports nor contests the availability of a voluntary assisted dying service or the participation of pharmacists in such a service, PSA represents the interests of pharmacists, and therefore needs to be involved in the implementation taskforce to ensure that pharmacists are not adversely affected by decisions they make about participating or conscientiously objecting to participation.

“All pharmacists can be affected by the legislation if they do not understand it, as there are specific sections of the Act that apply to all health professionals in Victoria.

“In addition, any pharmacist who participates in a VAD service will need to have access to a regulatory environment and infrastructure that supports their role, supports the individual accessing the service, and protects the rights of both.

“PSA will be providing information throughout the process (which culminates in June of 2019). This will include presentations at the 2017 Victorian Pharmacists Conference, and PSA18.”