Voluntary Assisted Dying in New South Wales


On the 26 September 2020, 47-year-old Rebecca Burden was requested by her elderly father suffering dementia (and brain injury) to kill him in a Brisbane nursing home has tried to do just that by suffocating him in what the court referred to as a moment of poor judgment.

It is reported that Rebecca tried to suffocate her 68-year-old father after he begged her to kill him. Rebecca then placed a pillow over his face to execute his request.

Rebecca pleaded guilty to one count of attempted murder at the Brisbane Supreme Court before being sentenced on 22 July 2022 to 5 years imprisonment.

She is eligible for parole in May 2023.

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2022 has passed in New South Wales effectively allowing voluntary assisted drying for terminally ill patients to put an end to their life. NSW was the last of the States and Territories to decriminalise euthanasia in Australia.

The new laws in NSW on euthanasia will allow a terminally ill patient experiencing suffering that can’t be alleviated by palliative care to voluntarily end his/her life. The patient must be at least 18-years of age and a citizen of Australia to be eligible. In addition, the patient must be in a state where he/she is likely to die from disease within 6 months, pr a year (in the case of a neurodegenerative disease or condition causing suffering that can’t be relieved.

The patient in order to be eligible must also have the ability to make his/her own choice and act voluntarily and with no pressure.

Once the eligibility requirements are satisfied, the ultimate decision is left with at least 2 doctors. Effectively, dying from voluntarily in this way will not be considered as suicide under the law.

No criminal responsibility will be attributed from a lawful voluntary assisted death provided it is done in good faith.

Here is more on euthanasia laws in New South Wales, including maximum penalties for breaching the laws.

About Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Leading Criminal Lawyers in Sydney, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Criminal Courts.


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