More than 75 community and health sector organisations from across Australia have joined forces for National Advance Care Planning Week
to promote awareness of a poorly understood public health issue.
Together they are asking all Australian adults, young and old, to plan for a scenario where they are unable to make their own medical decisions. With more Australians living longer, the initiative aims to demystify and 'normalise' conversations around death and dying.
Around a third of people will be unable able to make their own end-of-life medical decisions, yet few people take the active steps required to retain control of their future medical care.
Advance care planning helps people to clarify their values and preferences, preparing themselves and their loved ones for a time when they can no longer communicate.
“Most of us expect to have a say in our medical treatment, however a sudden event, or gradual health decline may leave people with without a voice or a choice, if no plan is in place." said Dr Chris Moy, Vice-President of the AMA and ambassador for Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA).
"Less than 15% of Australians have an advance care directive. This means that millions of Australians are unaware that they have given up their ability to control their own destiny should they lose decision-making capacity. This leaves their loved ones with the burden of making heart-breaking decisions blindly. No family should have to go through that," said Dr Moy.
National Advance Care Planning Week is an initiative of ACPA and funded by the Australian Government. People are encouraged to visit the website, which makes it easy for people to get started with advance care planning - from starting a conversation with family and attending events to accessing the relevant forms.
"We want to empower people to take active control of their future care and ensure their preferences are known and respected. But we can't do it alone. We are grateful for the 75 organisations - from the Northern Territory to Tasmania - that are bringing these important conversations to their local communities,” said Linda Nolte, Program Director of ACPA.