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What it means for you: the addition of “Medical Research”

What has changed?

As a result of recent changes to the ACT’s Powers of Attorney legislation, if you are incapacitated, then your attorney under an existing ACT Enduring Power of Attorney is now permitted to consent to your participation in medical research.

This change applies to all existing Powers of Attorney.

New Powers of Attorney specifically state that the attorney is permitted to consent to medical research if you are incapacitated, unless you modify this in some way.

Do I need to change my existing Enduring Power of Attorney to permit this to happen?


You would only need to change an existing Enduring Power of Attorney if you did not want to consent to your participation in “Medical Research” or “Low-Risk Research”.

What is Medical Research?

It means either “Low-Risk Research” or “Medical Research”.

Low-Risk Research

“Low-Risk Research” means research carried out that does not change the treatment for a person’s condition. It is research that cannot pose any foreseeable risk of harm to the person other than harm usually associated with an existing condition. This type of research mainly involves data collection through non-intrusive examination and observation.

Medical Research

“Medical Research” refers to research in relation to the diagnosis, maintenance or treatment of a medical condition. This includes experimental health care.

All treatments must have approval from a Human Research Ethics Committee before they can be offered as experimental treatments to patients.

Such research can have wide-ranging social benefits, as well as be potentially life changing for the person participating in the research.

What are the obligations of an attorney in making these types of decisions?

An attorney can only make decisions in relation to these matters if you are incapacitated.

Naturally, the attorney has to make decisions that they think are consistent with your wishes (in so far as they are known) and that lie within your best interests.

If you would like to discuss changes in this legislation, update your Enduring Power of Attorney or create a new Enduring Power of Attorney, please get in contact with Emma Bragg or Brian Tetlow on (02) 6140 3263 or [email protected].