Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2016

  • 29 Feb 2016

In February 2016, the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2016 (Bill) was introduced into South Australia’s Legislative Assembly. The Bill use the terms ‘unbearable’ and ‘hopeless’ as central defining factors.

In essence the Bill seeks to allow medical practitioners to assist in ending a person’s life when their suffering becomes unbearable and the medical practitioner concludes that their prognosis is hopeless. It is the person seeking to end their life who determines what is unbearable. In terms of what is hopeless, it is the role of the medical practitioner to determine that there are no further treatment options available to the person which could potentially relieve their suffering and assuming that such options would be acceptable to the person.

The Bill requires that to be eligible for voluntary euthanasia the person must be a competent adult and have been resident in the state for at least 6 months.

The Bill also deals with issues that may arise by insurers failing to make payments on life insurance policies where an person has died as a result of euthanasia, by preventing insurers from denying such claims purely on the basis that death arose as a result of voluntary euthanasia. Health practitioners and facilities are entitled to refuse to participate in voluntary euthanasia however, facilities must make this known prior to the admission of any person.

In terms of safety procedures, the Bill makes provisions requiring at least two examinations by separate medical practitioners and if required by either of these practitioners, by a psychiatrist as well. The initial assessment can only occur where a person considering voluntary euthanasia initiates the request and the request must be witnessed by a competent adult. The practitioner is required to provide the following information in writing to the person:

  1. a diagnosis and prognosis of his or her illness, injury or condition;
  2. information explaining the forms of treatment that are reasonably available to treat his or her illness, injury or condition (if any) and the risks associated with such treatment;
  3. information setting out the medical procedures that may be used to administer voluntary euthanasia and the risks associated with the procedures;
  4. any other information required by the regulations for the purposes of this subsection.

A review of past Bills introduced in South Australia concerning voluntary euthanasia reveal that various Bills have been introduced in recent times in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012, all of which have been defeated. It will be interesting to see if the current Bill is passed.

We will keep you advised as to the progress of this Bill.

Post by Karen Kumar and Cameron Leaver 

Most Popular Articles


When can the unqualified be qualified? Non-lawyers engaging in legal practice - when is it OK and when is the law broken

Only lawyers can provide legal advice, but anyone can provide legal information. When thinking of the difference, you might ask your friend or colleague to provide information about a serious illness; however you would seek out a qualified medical professional in relation to its treatment.

Service of Notices by Registered Post

Where service of a notice is authorised or required by post, unless the contrary intention appears, service will be deemed to be effected at the time when the notice would be delivered in the ordinary course of post: see the various Acts Interpretation acts of the States and Commonwealth.

Thanks, but no thanks – I don’t want to inherit

It seems odd that anybody would reject an inheritance, but for some beneficiaries, there are valid reasons they do not wish to receive their inheritance.

Subscribe to Our Blog

Keeping you connected, Hicksons regularly publishes articles to keep you up to date on the latest developments. To receive these updates via email, please subscribe below and indicate which areas of law you would like to receive information on.