Skip links and keyboard navigation

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.

  1. have an eligible condition
  2. have decision-making capacity
  3. be acting voluntarily and without coercion
  4. be at least 18 years of age
  5. 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). It is also the approach taken in other Australian states where voluntary assisted dying is legal.

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.

Additional information on eligibility

People assessed as ineligible

Some people wanting to access voluntary assisted dying will not meet the strict eligibility requirements. If someone is assessed as ineligible their doctor will talk to them about support services that may help them.

Eligibility considerations for certain conditions or life stages

Should a person request access to voluntary assisted dying, their eligibility will be individually assessed on the strict criteria as part of the process. This includes people with the conditions or in life stages explained below.

People with dementia or Alzheimer's

It’s unlikely someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s would meet the eligibility criteria for voluntary assisted dying as they would need to have both decision-making capacity throughout the entire process and a condition that is expected to cause death within 12 months.

There are many different types of dementia and the assessing doctors will need to determine the person’s eligibility against the criteria.

Discussions with those wanting to access voluntary assisted dying will always include information about end-of-life care, palliative care and practical support.

People who are not eligible will be encouraged to talk to their doctor about other support and treatment options available to them.

People who are elderly or frail

Being elderly or frail does not make someone eligible for voluntary assisted dying.

People with disability

People with a disability have the same right to ask for voluntary assisted dying as others in the community. People who have a disability must still meet all the eligibility criteria, including the ability to make and communicate a decision about voluntary assisted dying throughout the process. Having a disability alone does not meet the criteria set out in the Act.

People who have a diagnosed (or undiagnosed) mental health condition

The strict eligibility criteria includes a requirement for a person to have decision-making capacity for voluntary assisted dying at each stage of the process.

People wanting to access voluntary assisted dying must undergo independent eligibility assessments by two doctors. This includes an assessment of their decision-making capacity. There is no requirement for doctors to undertake an additional mental health assessment.

Doctors are required to meet minimum qualification, experience and training requirements. This does not include a requirement for one of the doctor’s to be a psychiatrist.

If either doctor is unable to decide whether the person has decision-making capacity, they must refer the person to a healthcare worker who has appropriate skills and training to make a determination.

The Act provides that a person is not eligible for voluntary assisted dying only because they have a mental illness.

A person with a mental illness may be eligible if they meet all eligibility criteria.

Last updated: 9 June 2022