First permit issued in Vic euthanasia bid
The first permit allowing a terminally-ill person to end their life has been issued in Victoria, as experts say the application process is more difficult than people might expect.
The voluntary assisted dying laws allow terminally-ill adults in specific circumstances to end their lives after two medical professionals have signed their application, and a cooling-off period has passed.
A number of media outlets reported at least one permit has been issued, but the Victorian government would not confirm the news.
"We know that doctors are talking to patients about voluntary assisted dying and are carrying out assessments," a Department of Health and Human Services statement said on Wednesday.
"It is giving people at the end of their life a genuine and compassionate choice over the manner and timing of their death.
"The Victorian model for the voluntary assisted dying system is working."
Once a permit is granted, patients have access to lethal medications, which by law must be kept in a locked box until used.
The legislation came into effect on June 19 and Wednesday's news is the first of any successful permit.
Dying With Dignity Victoria's Rodney Syme, a retired urologist, said the process to be granted permission was more difficult than terminally-ill people might expect.
He is working as a "navigator" to help patients make their way through the system, but said the length of time it took to issue even one permit pointed to its complexity.
"They are equally having difficulty and delays in finding suitable doctors," Dr Syme told AAP of patients wanting to access the laws.
Dr Syme said the statutory waiting times and problems finding doctors willing to deal with voluntary assisted dying meant terminally-ill people "should start the process early".
The state government has previously said the application process would take at least 10 days and that they expect about 150 people per year to access the scheme.
Dr Meredith Doig, also from Dying With Dignity, said there were suffering people who had waited for the laws to come into effect.
"I know that there are people who were really needing this legislation," she told AAP.
© AAP 2019