Greek-Australian Minister Hails Legalization of Euthanasia in Victoria

“We’re on the right side of history,” Victoria’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said on Wednesday as her state became the first in Australia to legalize euthanasia.

The state’s historic voluntary assisted dying laws will allow terminally ill adults who have approximately six months to live, who also meet other strict eligibility criteria – such as being able to give informed consent – access to lethal drugs.

“This is a day for the advocates, this is a day for the patients and their families who have suffered for a very long period of time and have been waiting for this change,” Mikakos said on the steps of Parliament on Wednesday morning.

Mikakos, the first woman of Greek descent elected to the Australian Parliament, said that according to estimates, about 150 Victorians could make use of euthanasia laws each year, but in its first year the number could be as low as 12.

Victoria is the only state in Australia to have euthanasia laws; however, Queensland and Western Australia are now also considering enacting voluntary assisted dying legislation.

“We want to see people who are facing difficult end-of-life decisions be given an option of a dignified death at the time of their choosing,” Mikakos stated.