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Most of us want our next of kin to be well aware of our wishes if we are terminally ill, especially if we are incapacitated and unable to make decisions for ourselves.

The procedures of Advance Care Planning are slightly different in the ACT compared to NSW. This article will provide a brief overview of both.

It is possible to plan for end of life care by either formal or informal methods.

Informal Methods of Advance Care Planning

  • Developing an Advance Care Plan in conjunction with your health care professionals.
  • Discussing preferences for treatment with your family members, ideally before you are facing major illnesses.

Formal Methods of Advance Care Planning

Making an Advance Care Directive

In the ACT it is possible to:

Make a formal ‘Health Direction’

If the direction is in writing, the approved form must be used and witnessed by two adults. Alternatively, if the direction is given verbally, then that verbal direction must be witnessed by two health professionals. Both forms of directions are legally binding under ACT legislation.

Complete an ‘Advance Care Plan Statement of Choices’

This is a form devised by ACT Health which specifically deals with end of life decision making. This is what ACT Health calls a ‘non-legal document’ as it does not have the backing of legislation.

Both documents are available here.

In NSW a person does not need to use a particular form to record their wishes. The NSW Government has produced a booklet called ‘Making an Advance Care Directive’ which includes an example advanced care directive.

The booklet is available here.

Appointing a Person to Make Medical Decisions For You

Another way you can plan for your future is to appoint another person to make medical decisions for you should you become unable to do so yourself.

Under ACT Legislation you can formally appoint an alternate medical decision maker under an ‘Enduring Power of Attorney’. Your alternate decision maker is called your Attorney.

Under NSW legislation you can formally appoint an alternate medical decision maker under an ‘Appointment of an Enduring Guardian’. Your alternate decision maker is called your Guardian.

In both the ACT and NSW the alternate decision maker can only make decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated and unable to make those decisions for yourself.

For more information on these appointments see our article here.

Having a Plan in Place

End of life decision making using one or more of the Advanced Care Planning methods above is a highly personal and individual choice.

Often end of life decisions making involves difficult conversations with family members. However that’s exactly why it’s a good idea to have these difficult conversations now, rather than later when an urgent health condition arises.

When preparing Enduring Powers of Attorney for our clients we can and do include guidance for Attorneys as to our clients end of life decisions. Again, it’s a personal choice to include such guidance and it is something we discuss with each of our clients.

Notification of Your Wishes

In the ACT you can choose to send your ‘Advanced Care Statement of Choices’ to the ACT Health Advanced Care Planning Program. Details of how to do this are included on the form.

The Commonwealth Government also recommends that Advanced Care Plans are uploaded to ‘MyHealth Record’. Instructions as to how to do that are contained here.

If you would like assistance from Tetlow Legal regarding any aspect of your Advanced Care Planning then Brian Tetlow, Emma Bragg or Bede Foundling are able to help. You can contact them on (02) 6140 3263 or [email protected].