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Indian Australian community in Victoria see voluntary euthanasia law as positive outcome

Victorian MPs show emotion after the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 passed in the Victorian Legislative Council in Melbourne,(AAP Image/David Crosling) Source: AAP

Victorian terminally ill adults with less than six months to live will be able to access the program. The lower house is next week expected to approve amendments before an 18-month turnaround, meaning the scheme can be operational by 2019.

Victoria looks set to become the first Australian state to legalise voluntary euthanasia after the state's upper house passed new laws to that effect.

It's taken more than 60 hours of debate since it was introduced by the Labor government, and will now head to the lower house for approval.

Should the lower house approve amendments next week as expected, the scheme can be operational in 18 months.

Labor Premier Daniel Andrews says it's an emotional and historic day.

"It's about providing those who have for too long been denied a compassionate end and the control, the power over the last phase of their journey. It's about giving to them that control, that care, that compassion, and ultimately the respect to allow them to write that final chapter of their journey."

Sound of mind adults with an "intolerable" terminal illness and less than six months to live, will be able to access the program.

Those under 18 years of age, and those who've lived in Victoria for less than 12 months, cannot.

Patients will be assessed by several doctors, including at least one specialist, while a review board will oversee each step of the process.

Greens M-P Colleen Hartland has championed the cause.

"Now we can look people in the face who have terminal cancer and tell them they have a choice - that they don't have to suffer in those last weeks. We have all had friends and family who have had the most excruciating deaths. Now we can give them real relief."

Penalties have been put in place to avoid misuse, but not everyone is happy with the decision.

If someone other than the terminally ill or a medical professional triggers the assisted dying service, they'll face potential life imprisonment; while anyone who induces a person to request the service will face substantial fines and up to five years jail.

Medical professionals found recommending the scheme to patients will also face an investigation.

Former Vice President of the Australian Medical Association Stephen Parnis has told the A-B-C he has a number of issues with the passed bill.

I think one is that the vulnerable are inadequately protected from things like subtle coercion, access to appropraite diagnosis as well as provision of care.

Mr Parnis says Victoria's palliative care system is patchy, and those living in remote areas may face difficulty accessing the proposed assisted dying service.

"Depending on where you are - for example, regional Victoria - you don't have the appropriate availability of palliative care services - and I and others have argued that if that is provided then that becomes the insurance policy."

Over 40,000 Victorians die every year, with an estimated 10,000 of those dying with inadequate access to palliative care.

There have been more than 50 attempts by state parliaments to pass voluntary euthanasia laws in the past two decades, but all have failed despite public opinion showing support as high as 80 per cent.

Last week, a New South Wales bill failed in the upper house by a single vote.

Indian Australian medical researcher, Dr Bhupinder Singh says personally he is very happy with the law. As a cancer researcher he has seen a lot of people suffering and feels that everyone has right to die with dignity and without suffering.

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