The life expectancy for terminally ill people to access euthanasia will be cut from 12 to six months in a last-minute bid to secure the vital final votes on the proposed laws.
In a further sweetener the government will spend $62 million over five years on palliative care to overcome concerns about inequities in accessing end-of-life support services.
On Tuesday the government announced a range of amendments to the assisted dying bill, which has already passed Victorian Parliament's lower house, despite Premier Daniel Andrews previously insisting the proposed model did not require changes.
The government offered the key concessions to gain the support of "Vote 1 Local Jobs" MP James Purcell and Liberal Simon Ramsay who have both called for a reduction in the timeframe for patients to access the scheme.
The amended timeframe will include an exception for people diagnosed with neurodegenerative conditions such as motor neurone disease, allowing them to end their lives within 12 months of their expected death.
Other government amendments include:
- Requiring eligible patients to have been a Victorian resident for at least 12 months.
- Encouraging patients to tell their usual doctor they are planning to end their lives.
- Requiring unused assisted dying substances to be returned within 15 days of the patient dying by their appointed contact person. The previous requirement was 30 days.
- Death certificates will record voluntary assisted dying as the manner of the person's death with their condition or illness stated as the cause.
The assisted dying bill needs the support of at least 21 MPs in Victorian Parliament's upper house, which has 40 members.
Attorney-General Martin Pakula??? said none of the amendments undermined the bill's integrity. "But they have been deeply considered. They are compassionate amendments," he said. "We are very hopeful that they will ensure the greatest chance of the bill passing through the Legislative Council."
The government's deputy leader in the upper house Jaala Pulford said the new funding for palliative care would be focused on regional and rural Victoria.
The funding will include $19.5 million for specialist doctors and nurses to provide advice before and after a person is discharged from hospital.
There will be another $19.9 million for home-based palliative care through regional Victoria from hospital outreach programs and community sector providers.
A 24-hour palliative care advice line will be established with $6.25 million to give carers access to information around the clock.
The government will also allocate $6.35 million from 2018/19 to support families of people who accessed voluntary assisted dying - if the bill becomes law.
"This is a specialised grief and bereavement service to make sure that no one falls through the cracks," Ms Pulford said.
She said there would also be a review of how palliative care is funded to tackle inequities, led by Melbourne Health chair Robert Doyle and other health professionals.
Ms Pulford said she expected the amendments would not go to a vote before Thursday.
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