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RANZCP responds to Victoria’s voluntary assisted dying bill

23 November 2017

The legalisation of voluntary assisted dying in Victoria is a significant decision, according to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrist (RANZCP), which has the potential to affect all psychiatrists practising in Victoria.

‘Irrespective of whether or not the College supported the legalisation of voluntary assisted dying, now that this legislation has passed the Legislative Council it is crucial that the range of protective measures advocated by the RANZCP, and others, are enacted to ensure that assisted dying is safely and carefully administered,' RANZCP President, Dr Kym Jenkins said.

‘These include such measures as patients who request voluntary assisted dying being able to retain their access to palliative care and that support is given to their families.

‘It is important that resources, training and support are provided to the doctors who will provide these services and that no health professionals will have to participate in voluntary assisted dying against their wishes.

‘Psychiatrists, in particular, may be called upon for their specific skills and expertise when it may be unclear if a patient has decision-making capacities, to identify psychiatric illness and to assess suicidal ideation in terminally ill patients,’ Dr Kym Jenkins said.

For more information on the RANZCP’s position see our submission to the Ministerial Advisory Panel on voluntary assisted dying. Some of the key recommendations included: 

  • No medical practitioner should be required to participate in voluntary assisted dying against their wishes
  • Increasing support to the palliative care sector to ensure that all patients considering assisted dying retain access to palliative care and have the opportunity to consult with a palliative care specialist
  • The implementation of decision-making capacity tests to ensure that the person requesting voluntary assisted dying has the cognitive power and decision-making capacity to make such a request
  • Increasing support and training for non-psychiatrically trained doctors to recognise diminished capacity and refer patients for assessment. 

For more see: RANZCP’s April 2017 submission to the Ministerial Advisory Panel on voluntary assisted dying, and the RANZCP’s October 2017 letter to The Honourable Mary Wooldridge MP

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The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is a membership organisation that prepares medical specialists in the field of psychiatry, supports and enhances clinical practice, advocates for people affected by mental illness and advises governments on mental health care. For information about our work, our members or our history, visit