The ACT government is open to considering whether voluntary assisted dying could be available to older teenagers.
Consultation has opened on laws for the scheme with the government also prepared to consider whether a time frame for an expected death is necessary.
Human Rights Minister Tara Cheyne said the feedback from the consultation will help to inform the laws which are expected to be put forward in the ACT Legislative Assembly later this year.
The ACT's parliament is able to debate assisted dying for the first time in 25 years, after the federal government reversed its ban on the territories' ability to legislate a scheme last year.
The ACT government has confirmed voluntary assisted dying laws will only be available to those who have a condition or illness and are approaching death, consistent with other states.
But the government will consider whether the scheme could be available to a limited number of people under 18.
Across all Australian states people must be 18 years or older to access voluntary assisted dying but the government is asking the public whether eligible people under 18 with the "maturity and capacity" to make decisions should also be able to access this.
However, this would only be considered for older teenagers who are deemed to have "decision-making capacities".
"For a matter as complex and important as voluntary assisted dying, for example, a five year old would not have decision-making capacity, but a late teenager may have decision-making capacity depending on all the circumstances," a discussion paper said.
The ACT's consultation will run for two months and has been informed by a discussion paper where the government is asking the public to consider 35 questions about the laws.
This will include questions about eligibility, safeguards, the process to request voluntary assisted dying, the role of health professionals and health services.
There will also be considerations about how to determine decision-making capacity. The discussion paper said this could either be determined by a health professional or through legislation.
"Our view is that capacity throughout the process is fundamental," Ms Cheyne said.
"Equally with this being about a choice for someone who is dying, this is not for someone who's not dying they are already dying when they are applying for this [and] they do have that decision making capacity at those stages where they're making those requests."
However, people won't be able to preemptively indicate a wish to die in advance of their condition deteriorating beyond their own decision-making capacity.
"So something that is off the table for us at this point but could be considering at a later stage is about the role of voluntary assisted dying in advanced care plans," Ms Cheyne said.
Ms Cheyne said it may be discriminatory, from a human rights perspective, to have 18 as the minimum age in cases where a 17-year-old has decision-making capacity.
"For us, we are a human rights jurisdiction where the rights of children and their autonomy is both protected and promoted and equally this is something that regarding health treatments is on a case by case basis in every case," Ms Cheyne said.
"While we know the states have had the age as 18 our question is whether this is appropriate and acceptable for the ACT community or is there a way this could be done differently.
"It may well be that we come to the same conclusion as the other states."
The government will consider whether to not include a requirement around death being expected in a certain time frame.
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In most states a medical professional must expect a person to die from an illness within six months, or 12 months for neurodegenerative disorder, to be eligible for voluntary assisted dying.
However, the discussion paper said this was restrictive and it is difficult to determine an exact time frame.
"Some view these time frames as bureaucratic and unduly restrictive, particularly because it is difficult to precisely determine a person's life expectancy and timeframe for expected death," the paper said.
"In some cases, requests for voluntary assisted dying are made very close to the end of life and people may die before the voluntary assisted dying assessment process can be completed and the voluntary assisted dying substance administered."
Ms Cheyne said there were examples from other states where health professionals had been reluctant to put a time frame on death and this had delayed the approval process for those wishing to access assisted dying.
Ms Cheyne said the ACT government did not have any legislation drafted and the views expressed in the consultation would inform the laws.
"We know there's a lot of community expectation about us delivering this but we do want to be really genuine about the questions we ask, designing and crafting a model that reflects Canberra's values," she said.
"While we do have the benefit of legislative schemes that exist in all the states now, we also know that there are some lessons learned from some of those that have been in operation for a while."
"We've been very deliberate about wanting to have a discussion with the community knowing how the models work in all the states."
The consultation will run until April 6. The government is expected to introduce laws in August.
A parliamentary inquiry is likely to follow, which would run for three months. Debate on the laws will occur either late this year or early next year.
Labor and Liberals members will be given a conscience vote on the matter. Greens members are expected to vote in favour of voluntary assisted dying as it's part of the party's policy platform.
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