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The University of Tasmania’s Independent Review of the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020

The Government of Tasmania has requested that the University of Tasmania conduct an independent review of the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 (the VAD Bill). The Independent Review’s Terms of Reference require the Review Panel to prepare a report to inform Members of Parliament as they consider the VAD Bill.

Specifically, the Review will compare the VAD Bill with bills and legislation in other Australian states and territories and relevant international jurisdictions on matters set out in the Terms of Reference. In doing this, the Review Panel will provide independent, objective, evidence-based analysis, and will not offer opinions nor make recommendations.

The Review Panel will be established in early December and will report to the Tasmanian Government in mid-February 2021.

Membership of the UTAS VAD Review Panel

Professor Richard Eccleston (Chairperson)

Professor of Political Science, University of Tasmania

Prof. Eccleston is a specialist in social and economic policy and has worked on a wide range of policy issues, analysing and developing practical evidence-based solutions to some of the most significant policy challenges facing our community. In recent years Prof. Eccleston has led projects on a wide range of topics from tax reform, housing affordability, migration, preventive health to the future of renewable energy in Tasmania. He was a Fulbright Senior Scholar and was the Founding Director of the Institute for Social Change at the University of Tasmania. Richard has worked closely with a wide range of governments, providing policy advice, briefings and formal submissions.

Professor Richard Eccleston's profile

Professor Fran McInerney

Professor of Dementia Studies and Education, Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, University of Tasmania

Prof. McInerney has a professional background in nursing and a wealth of experience in palliative care and end-of-life planning and considers her most important research to be educative. She has been instrumental in creating dementia-centred educational tools in collaboration with the Wicking Centre. She has also developed resources to help those in aged care facilities – staff and families – talk about dementia and death and dying. Her other work includes measurement of dementia literacy and contributions to MOOCS (massive open online courses) about dementia. The Understanding Dementia MOOC has been rated one of the top ten of all MOOCs, and number one of all health MOOCs in the world. She has been a member of the boards of Palliative Care Australia, Palliative Care Tasmania, and Dementia Australia (Vic).

Professor Fran McInerney's profile

Professor Marg Otlowski

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Culture and Wellbeing), Professor of Law and Deputy Director of the Centre for Law and Genetics

Prof. Otlowski is a distinguished legal scholar and a former Dean of the UTAS Law School. Her research focuses on the relationship between law, health and ethics including voluntary assisted dying and end-of-life choices.  Current research projects include regulating genomic data and protecting individuals from genetic discrimination. Reviewing laws and recommending change in light of new ethical questions is a fundamental aspect of her work. She has been engaged by Commonwealth and State governments as a consultant and member for various committees, including the NHMRC’s Australian Health Ethics Committee. She has also been a member of the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal and of the Guardianship and Administration Board. She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law.

Professor Marg Otlowski's profile

Associate Professor, Jenny Presser

Past Chair of RACGP Board Tasmania and Academic Lead, Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS)

Associate Prof. Presser started out as a research scientist before embarking on a career as a GP. While working in practices around Australia, she continued an interest in teaching and has worked in general practice specialist training as well as with medical students. In clinical practice Prof. Presser has worked in palliative care in the Northern Territory and completed a Clinical Diploma in Palliative Care. She has enjoyed team-based community work with a particular focus on palliative care, sexual health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and mental health. Her research expertise is in the areas of mental health in primary care, doctors’ well-being, and training in primary care. Prof. Presser has just completed a term as Chair of the Tasmanian branch of the Royal Australian College of General Practice.

Associate Professor, Jenny Presser's profile

End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) (VAD) Review

Terms of Reference

The VAD Review Panel (the Panel) will include health, legal and social sciences expertise and will provide advice to the Tasmanian Government for dissemination to Members of the House of Assembly on specific matters in relation to the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 (‘the VAD Bill’) tabled in the Legislative Council by the Hon Michael Gaffney MLC on 27 August 2020.

The Panel will conduct research and targeted consultation, through a written submissions process, in relation to the proposed VAD Bill in Tasmania and, in order to inform parliamentary debate, provide an independent and objective report to the Tasmanian Government containing:

  1. A concise summary of the VAD Bill, following amendment by the Upper House.
  2. Comparison of Tasmania’s proposed VAD Bill to legislation (including Bills) relating to voluntary assisted dying, however described, in other Australian states and territories and overseas jurisdictions, including but not limited to the processes allowed by the legislation, safeguards and protections for vulnerable people.
  3. An outline of the historical development of VAD legislation in other Australian jurisdictions in terms of scope and protections.
  4. Summary of relevant reports, analysis and material in other Australian states and territories and overseas jurisdictions pertaining to the implementation and administration of VAD reform.
  5. Objective analysis of:
    • the safeguards put in place in other jurisdictions relating to the impact of VAD legislation on medical practice and practitioners, allied health and care professionals, family and social relationships, and provision for and practices in aged care.
    • any interrelationship between the VAD Bill and existing palliative care and advance care directives in Tasmania and the experience of other jurisdictions in implementing VAD legislation to identify matters that might need to be addressed or monitored should the legislation pass into law.
    • stakeholder feedback relevant to all matters previously described.

The targeted call for submissions should indicate that submissions are to address the processes allowed by the legislation, safeguards and protections for vulnerable people; and the interrelationship between the VAD Bill and other end-of-life choices.

The report is to be completed and provided to Government in February 2021.