The eligibility criteria
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 (the Act) outlines strict eligibility criteria for accessing voluntary assisted dying.
A person must meet all the eligibility criteria to access voluntary assisted dying.
- Have an eligible disease, illness or medical condition
- Have decision-making capacity
- Be acting voluntarily and without coercion
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Fulfil residency requirements.
1. Have an eligible condition
An eligible disease, illness or medical condition is one that is:
- advanced, progressive and will cause death
- expected to cause death within 12 months
- causing suffering that the person considers to be intolerable. Suffering can include:
- physical suffering
- mental suffering
- suffering caused by treatment provided for the disease, illness or medical condition.
Whether the person’s suffering is intolerable is a subjective assessment by the person themselves.
2. Have decision-making capacity
A person has decision-making capacity for voluntary assisted dying if they can:
- understand the nature and effect of decisions about access to voluntary assisted dying
- freely and voluntarily make decisions about access to voluntary assisted dying
- communicate decisions about access to voluntary assisted dying in some way (verbally, or by other means of communication such as hand gestures).
A person is presumed to have decision-making capacity for voluntary assisted dying unless there is evidence to the contrary.
To determine if a person has decision-making capacity, the following will be considered:
- a person may have decision-making capacity to make some decisions but not others
- capacity can change or vary
- a person may temporarily lose and later regain capacity
- whether the person has enough and suitable support.
It should not be presumed that a person does not have decision-making capacity because:
- of a personal characteristic
- the person has a disability
- the person makes a decision that other people don’t agree with.
3. Be acting voluntarily and without coercion
A person must want to access voluntary assisted dying. The person must be acting without force, influence or persuasion by another person.
4. Be at least 18 years of age
Voluntary assisted dying will only be available to adults (people aged 18 years or older).
5. Meet residency and citizenship requirements
To be able to access voluntary assisted dying in Queensland a person must:
- be an Australian Citizen, or
- be a permanent resident of Australia (this includes New Zealand citizens who hold a special category visa as defined by the Migration Act 1958 (Commonwealth)), or
- have been ordinarily a resident in Australia for at least three years immediately before making the first request, or
- have been granted an Australian residency exemption by Queensland Health, and
- the person must also have been:
- ordinarily a resident in Queensland for at least 12 months immediately before making a first request, or
- granted a Queensland residency exemption by Queensland Health.
‘Ordinarily a resident’ is someone who regularly or normally lives in Australia. It does not include people who temporarily live in a place, for example, for a holiday, business or education.
Queensland Health can grant a residency exemption:
- for compassionate grounds, and
- if the person has a substantial connection to Queensland. For example, a person who is:
- a long-term resident of a place close to the Queensland border, who works in Queensland and receives medical treatment in Queensland. For example, someone who lives on the northern New South Wales border, or
- lives outside of the state but is a former Queensland resident and whose family live in Queensland.
See the Queensland Voluntary Assisted Dying Handbook for more information on the exemption process.