Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board appointed

A team of leading Queensland medical clinicians, academic and legal professionals has been appointed to a board charged with the oversight, monitoring and reportage on the implementation of voluntary assisted dying laws from 1 January 2023.

The State Government late on Friday announced the nine-member Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board (VADRB) to be headed by renowned paediatric and adolescent oncologist Professor Helen Irving (Chair) and leading healthcare ethics academic Professor Eleanor Milligan.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the appointment of the nine-person board was an important step towards making voluntary assisted dying a reality in Queensland.

The VADRB is an independent oversight body that supports the safe, practical and transparent operation of voluntary assisted dying in Queensland.

The board will be charged with the review of each completed voluntary assisted dying case to ensure compliance with the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021, consider strategic recommendations, and provide annual reports on the operation of voluntary assisted dying in Queensland.

Ms D’Ath said the board members came from diverse backgrounds and had specialist expertise across a range of clinical, legal and other professional areas.


The board comprises:

Chair: Associate Professor Helen Irving

Associate Professor Helen Irving is nationally and internationally recognised for her contributions in the fields of paediatric and adolescent oncology, telemedicine, paediatric palliative care and medical ethics. She is Clinical Lead of the Queensland Paediatric Palliative Care Haematology and Oncology Network and established the Centre for Children’s Health Ethics and Law. Professor Irving holds a number of board and committee roles including Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee, Australian and New Zealand Children’s Haematology Oncology Group; Scientific Advisory Committee Member, International Society Paediatric Oncology; member of Palliative Care Australia and Palliative Care Queensland; and member of the Paediatric Palliative Care Australia and New Zealand.

Deputy Chair: Professor Eleanor Milligan

Professor Eleanor Milligan has held state and national leadership roles in healthcare ethics, practitioner regulation, organisational governance and culture, research ethics, medical education and accreditation. Professor Milligan is currently a Professor of Ethics and Professional Practice at Griffith University School of Medicine. Previous roles include Deputy Dean of Clinical Education at Griffith University and Clinical Ethicist, Queensland Health. She is a recent appointee to the National Health and Medical Research Council and Australian Health Ethics Committee.

Dr Jennifer Brown is a general physician with a particular interest in perioperative medicine, end-of-life decision making and palliative care. Dr Brown is currently in private practice as a consultant at the Holy Spirit Northside Private Hospital. Prior to this, Dr Brown was the Chief of Medical Staff for Mater Health Services and a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine with the University of Queensland. She has held a range of board and committee roles including the Queensland State Committee for the Royal Australian College of Physicians.


Dr John (Will) Cairns OAM is a Consultant Emeritus with the Townsville University Hospital. He recently retired from clinical practice as a palliative medicine consultant. Dr Cairns has worked extensively in palliative care, having held recent positions as the Director of Townsville Palliative Care Service. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

Ms Donisha Duff has an extensive career in health, particularly in Indigenous health and currently has senior leadership roles at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health including as Chief Operating Officer, Strategic Policy Advisor and General Manager of Regional Services. Ms Duff has held a range of board positions and is the current Chairperson of Stars Foundation Ltd.

Dr Bavahuna (Bav) Manoharan is a general medical practitioner with expertise in medicine. Dr Manoharan is currently the Clinical Lead with the Voluntary Assisted Dying Implementation Unit, Queensland Health. Dr Manoharan has held executive and non-executive roles in health care organisations and key leadership roles including as Vice President of the Australian Medical Association Queensland (AMAQ). Dr Manoharan is a Certified Health Informatician of Australia and has completed a Master of Public Health in addition to his Medical degree and Bachelor of Science.

Professor Lisa Nissen is an experienced pharmacy practitioner, researcher and educator who has worked in hospital and community pharmacies in both metropolitan and rural areas in Australia. Professor Nissen has a specific clinical interest in pain management and palliative care, having worked as a specialist pharmacist in oncology and palliative care before undertaking her PhD with the Multidisciplinary Pain Clinic at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

Mr Geoff Rowe has had a career in human services for over 40 years including 15 years in senior and executive positions. Mr Rowe is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Aged and Disability Advocacy Australia. Prior to his current role, Mr Rowe held senior roles with the Endeavour Foundation, the Cerebral Palsy League of Queensland and the Queensland Government.

Professor Lindy Willmott is a full-time legal academic who has worked in the field of regulation of end-of-life decision making for more than two decades. Over the past decade Professor Willmott has had a research focus at QUT during which time she was the Foundation Director of the Australian Centre for Health Law Research and now co-leads the End of Life Research Program within the centre. Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Laws (First class honours), Master of Laws (Upper second-class honours) and a PhD.

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