North Territory takes first steps to revive legal euthanasia

The Territory was the first and likely the last jurisdiction to legalise assisted death.

The Territory was the first and likely the last jurisdiction to legalise assisted death. Photo: Getty

Northern Territorians are being encouraged to have their say on voluntary assisted dying as the Top End looks to reinstate laws struck down by the federal government almost three decades ago.

In 1995, the NT became the first Australian jurisdiction to make voluntary euthanasia legal, but those laws were quickly overturned by the Howard government.

All six states have since passed their own laws and both territories now have the opportunity to do the same after federal parliament voted in 2022 to repeal the Commonwealth’s ability to override laws on the matter.

NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said a panel had been formed to begin developing a voluntary assisted dying framework for the territory. It will oversee community consultations to ensure Territorians can have their say about end-of-life care.

‘All voices’ entitled to be heard

Ms Fyles said the assisted dying framework would prioritise safety, ethics and appropriate safeguards to protect individuals and practitioners.

“Territorians deserve to have a say on whether or not they want these laws in the Territory, and if so, how they want it to work,” she said.

“The expert panel will ensure all voices are heard from all regions of the territory, as well as consider what the Northern Territory can learn from other jurisdictions, including overseas.”

Former NT administrator Vicki O’Halloran and barrister Duncan McConnel will co-chair the panel of seven advisory members with expertise in psychology, health, palliative care, ageing and Indigenous Australians.

Town hall consultation meetings will be held in Darwin, Palmerston, Katherine, Jabiru, Nhulunbuy, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and regions from October.

People will also be able to submit their views via an online survey, written submissions and community group meetings.

A report is expected to be provided to the chief minister by July 2024.


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