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Glossary of terms

Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021

Access to voluntary assisted dying in Queensland will be available from 1 January 2023 when the law comes into place.

Below are details of frequently used terms related to voluntary assisted dying in Queensland. These can be used as a reference when reading information on this website and other information resources. They are intended as a general guide only. For additional information please refer to the Dictionary within the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021.

Key terms include:

Administration decision — The decision a person makes in consultation with and on the advice of their coordinating practitioner to either self-administer the voluntary assisted dying substance or have it administered by the administering practitioner.

Administering practitioner — A doctor, nurse practitioner or registered nurse who has met the requirements to administer the voluntary assisted dying substance to a person. The administering practitioner will be either the coordinating practitioner or another person who this role is transferred to.

Authorised disposer — A registered health practitioner authorised by the chief executive of Queensland Health to dispose of the voluntary assisted dying substance.

Authorised supplier — A registered health practitioner authorised by the chief executive of Queensland Health to supply the voluntary assisted dying substance.

Coercion — Using intimidation, a threat or promise, including improperly using a position of trust or influence, to influence a person’s decision of whether or not to access voluntary assisted dying. Under the Bill, a person must be acting voluntarily and free from coercion.

Conscientious objection — The right of a registered health practitioner or speech pathologist to choose not to participate in any aspect of the voluntary assisted dying process due to sincerely-held religious, moral or ethical beliefs.

Consulting practitioner — The doctor who accepts a referral to undertake the consulting assessment and independently completes the consulting assessment of the person.

Coordinating practitioner — The doctor who accepts the person’s first request for voluntary assisted dying and coordinates the process.

Draft Bill — Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021, also called the proposed law.

End of life care — Care at the end of life is a broad term that encompasses all the different types of care and support provided for people with a life-limiting illness.

Eligibility criteria — The requirements (under the proposed law) that a person must meet to be eligible to access voluntary assisted dying.

The proposed law includes strict eligibility criteria for accessing voluntary assisted dying. This reflects the underlying principle that voluntary assisted dying is only an option for people at the end of life who are suffering and dying. To be eligible, a person must:

  1. have an eligible condition
  2. have decision-making capacity for voluntary assisted dying
  3. be acting voluntarily and without coercion
  4. be aged at least 18 years of age
  5. fulfil residency requirements (i.e. be an Australian citizen, permanent resident or ordinarily have lived in Australia for at least three years and in Queensland for 12 months before making the ‘first request’. Exemptions to these requirements may apply).

Each of these criteria must be met for the person to be eligible.

Eligible condition — An eligible condition is a disease, illness or medical condition that is:

  • advanced, progressive and will cause death
  • expected to cause death within 12 months and
  • causing suffering that the person considers to be intolerable.

Entity — An institution, organisation or business providing a health service, residential aged care or personal care service. They may include, but are not limited to, hospitals, hospices and nursing homes.

Final request — The third and final request to the coordinating practitioner for access to voluntary assisted dying. This request must be clear, unambiguous and made by the person themselves. It cannot be made by someone else on their behalf. They may make this final request verbally or by gestures or other means of communication available to them.

Final review — The review (of the first assessment record form, consulting assessment record form and second request) that the coordinating practitioner must complete upon receiving the final request.

First assessment — The assessment completed by the coordinating practitioner to determine if a person is eligible for voluntary assisted dying. If the person is assessed as eligible, they will be referred for a consulting assessment.

First request — The first request made by a person to a medical practitioner for access to voluntary assisted dying. This first request must be clear, unambiguous and made by the person themselves. It cannot be made by someone else on their behalf. They may make this request verbally or by gestures or other means of communication available to them.

Life-limiting condition — A disease, illness or condition that can’t be cured and that a person is likely to die from.

Nurse practitioner — A person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Queensland) to practise in the nursing profession and whose registration is endorsed as a nurse practitioner.

Palliative care — Healthcare focused on improving the quality of life and quality of care for people with a life-limiting illness, as well as families. It includes:

  • the prevention and relief of suffering
  • communication about goals of care and
  • the early identification, assessment and treatment of physical, psychological, emotional, social and spiritual symptoms. It helps people live as actively as possible until death by enhancing their quality of life.

A person does not need to stop other treatment while receiving palliative care but can choose to do so if they wish.

Practitioner administration — The administration of the voluntary assisted dying substance by an administering practitioner to the person.

Request and assessment process — The staged process set out in the proposed law that a person must follow to access voluntary assisted dying. It consists of several key steps:

  1. a first request
  2. a first assessment
  3. a consulting assessment
  4. a second request
  5. a final request and
  6. a final review.

Safeguards — Measures or protections included in the scheme to ensure it is only accessed by those who are eligible and to protect the vulnerable from coercion and exploitation.

Second request — The person’s second request for access to voluntary assisted dying. This request must be in writing and after the person has been assessed as eligible by the coordinating practitioner and the consulting practitioner. A second request must be in the approved form and signed in the presence of two eligible witnesses.

Self-administration — The self-administration of the voluntary assisted dying substance by the person accessing voluntary assisted dying.

Specialist — A medical practitioner with specialist registration under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Queensland).

Statewide Care Navigator Service — A service to be established that will provide information and support to people seeking voluntary assisted dying, their loved ones, and health practitioners navigating the process.

Statewide Pharmacy Service — The pharmacy service to be established to supply the voluntary assisted dying substance in Queensland and provide advice and support to people accessing voluntary assisted dying, their loved ones and practitioners.

Telehealth — The use of telecommunication technology to deliver health services and health information, including health care and health over a distance.

Voluntary — When a person acts of their own free will. A person must access voluntary assisted dying voluntarily and without coercion. A person may choose to discontinue their request at any stage of the process.

Voluntary assisted dying — The administration of a voluntary assisted dying substance and the steps related to that administration.

Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board (also referred to as the Review Board) — A body to be established (by the proposed law) to monitor the operation of the Act and compliance with the scheme.

Voluntary assisted dying substance (also referred to as substance) — A substance or drug, or combination of substances, approved by the chief executive of Queensland Health for use under the Voluntary Assisted Dying law for the purpose of causing a person’s death. Substances listed in Schedule 4 and Schedule 8 of the Commonwealth Poisons Standard may be approved by the chief executive.

Last updated: 17 September 2021