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LIV seeks clarification on whether using telecommunications to discuss voluntary assisted dying contravenes Criminal Code

LIV seeks clarification on whether using telecommunications to discuss voluntary assisted dying contravenes Criminal Code

By LIV Health Law Committee and Litigation Section

Health Voluntary Assisted Dying 

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The LIV is concerned that health practitioners could face criminal prosecution or unwarranted disciplinary action for discussing voluntary assisted dying via phone or electronically.

The LIV has written to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority (AHPRA) and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP), seeking clarification on whether Victorian health practitioners who discuss voluntary assisted dying (VAD) under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 (Vic) with patients via a carriage service such as over the phone, via email or through the use of telehealth, may be in breach of the Commonwealth Criminal Code.

The Department of Health and Human Services Victoria (DHHS) currently advises that this could be a breach of sections 474.29A and 474.29B of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) which prohibit using a carriage service 'for suicide related material'.

In response, the LIV has referred to legal documents which legally distinguish a voluntary assisted death from suicide, and conclude that telecommunications about VAD via a carriage service do not contravene the Criminal Code.

The LIV submits that clarification is urgently needed, particularly where COVID-19 has imposed greater restrictions to accessing VAD advice for seriously ill patients in rural and regional areas of Victoria.

To read the submission to the CDPP, click here.

To read the submission to AHPRA, click here.

Contact

Michelle Luarte
Policy Lawyer to Disability, Elder and Health Law Section
mluarte@liv.asn 03 9607 9413


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