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VAD deaths rise in Vic

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Medical syringe in the doctor’s hands on the patient’s background.

Victorian deaths from Voluntary Assisted Dying have increased by nearly a third over the last year, according to a VAD Review Board report released by the Victorian Government.

In the 2021-22 reporting period 269 people died under the scheme, an increase from 204 in the previous reporting period, bringing the total number of people who have died from euthanasia in Victoria to 604 since it was instituted.

Most media on the report have listed 401 deaths in 2021-22, but around a third of that total, 127 people, died without having administered the drugs.

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“If we continue on this rate of increase within one or two years we’ll be at a death a day in Victoria,” said Branka van der Linden, Director of anti-euthanasia advocacy group HOPE.

“Daniel Andrews, on the first day of the euthanasia scheme’s operation, predicted it would settle somewhere between 100 and 150 deaths annually. We’re already double that a few years in. It’s only going to get worse.”

“In the 2021-22 reporting period 269 people died under the scheme, an increase from 204 in the previous reporting period.”

The report noted that most applicants for VAD since 2019 (81 per cent, or 1255 people) were receiving some form of palliative care.

Of those, 76 per cent were palliated for less than one year – the median time was three months. Over 80 per cent of deaths from VAD were from people suffering from various forms of cancer.

Four cases were found to be non-compliant with the law, three because non-administered drugs were not returned, and one due to a person who signed on behalf of an applicant also putting themselves down as the witness.

The report stated the Board’s support for conscientious objection, but added that “some individuals and health services continue to actively discourage or even impede access” to VAD.

“The Board strongly supports the consideration that those who do not support voluntary assisted dying be required to make information available that enables potential applicants to contact the Statewide Care Navigator Service for the required information and support,” the report said.

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