Ardeer resident Nia Sims has lauded the arrival of a voluntary assisted dying law in Victoria as a huge relief for herself and thousands of others.

Victoria last week became the first state to pass a voluntary assisted dying bill, giving Victorians with a terminal illness the option to voluntarily end their life if they meet the strict legal criteria.

Ms Sims, a voluntary assisted dying advocate, said the passage of the bill was a significant moment in history.

“I was extremely relieved for it to be passed after such a long wait,” she said.

“For opponents to take one last swing at opposing it after it had passed through the upper house was frustrating, but ultimately it was just good to see it endorsed.

“Funnily enough, my thoughts when I heard [of the bill’s passing] were with those people watching from their sick beds and in hospital who may never have access to this due to the 18 months of lead-in time. It’s sad to think of those people, but I’m glad we will have this for future generations.”

Ms Sims has been living with a severe form of rare autoimmune disease scleroderma since she was 23. Now 43, she said the passing of the bill brought her a sense of control over her future.

“I do feel comforted that when my time comes, whether that’s sooner or later, that I will be able to be assessed for this care,” she said.

“I also hope that having VAD in place will shine a spotlight on end-of-life care as a whole, and also open up conversations in the community around death and end of life.

“The funding committed towards palliative care is great, but this law will help people to lobby for more palliative care funding in order to bridge the gap in the health system.”