Before documenting your plan in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), it's important to have a good understanding of what advance care planning is and what's involved in the advance care planning process.

On this page you can find advance care directives and other documents relevant to the ACT.

Recording your choices

In the ACT, there are three ways you can record your choices for future health care:

  1. Complete an Enduring Power of Attorney
  2. Complete an Advance Care Plan Statement of Choices (Competent Person)
  3. Complete a Health Direction

Completing these documents is the best way to make your preferences known about the type of treatment you would want if you are unable to participate in decisions, and to ensure that family and health professionals respect these preferences.

Enduring Power of Attorney

An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) allows you to choose a trusted relative or friend to manage your health care, personal care and financial affairs. The person you appoint becomes your substitute decision-maker if you are no longer able to make decisions. An EPA is a legal document that gives your chosen attorney, the legal authority to act for you, and to make decisions on your behalf.

You can appoint one or more adults to this role. To do this you need to complete the Enduring Power of Attorney form.

The form has specific requirements for completing and witnessing. Your chosen attorney must accept this role by signing the form.

Your attorney can consent to or refuse treatment on your behalf. They must act in accordance with any lawful directions contained in the form. They must make the decision they believe you would make if you could make your own decision. For this reason, it is helpful to talk to them about what is important to you and any preferences you have.

Advance Care Plan Statement of Choices

An Advance Care Plan Statement of Choices (Competent Person) is an advance care directive and includes future medical decisions if you lose the ability to make or communicate these decisions yourself. It allows you to provide specific information relating to your preferences and values, and must be taken into account.

You can provide information about your choices for life-prolonging treatments and make requests for other treatments relating to specific conditions. You can also record things such as religious or spiritual wishes and personal matters you would like taken care of if you are nearing death.

Completing an Advance Care Plan Statement of Choices for someone else

If a person is no longer able to make or communicate their decisions, an attorney can record choices regarding medical treatments and procedures on a person’s behalf using the Advance Care Plan Statement of Choices (No Legal Capacity form).

This advance care plan isn’t legally binding but can be useful to inform care decisions, and should be taken into account.

For an advance care plan form that can be used in all states and territories, use Advance care plan for a person with insufficient decision-making capacity.

Health Direction

A Health Direction is a legal document that enables you to make a direction to refuse, or require the withdrawal of, medical treatment generally or a particular kind of medical treatment.

Specific instructions

In your Health Direction, you can give specific instructions about certain medical treatments. For example, you might ask that life-prolonging treatment - such as tube feeding or resuscitation - be withheld or withdrawn if you have:

  • a terminal illness with no known cure or chance of recovery
  • severe and irreversible brain damage, and you can’t communicate
  • a severe illness or injury that you’ll probably never recover from

The Health Direction form must be completed and signed by two adult witnesses.

Storing your documents

Send copies of your documents to the ACT Advance Care Planning Program.

Documents can be scanned and emailed to or posted to:

Advance Care Planning
GPO Box 825
Canberra City
ACT 2601

We also recommend uploading your documents to My Health Record.

It’s important that you share copies of your documents with your attorney, family, friends, carers and your doctors. This will ensure everyone knows what you want.

You can also download and print a wallet card [PDF 117.46 KB] to let others know that you have an advance care directive.

Making changes and revoking documents

We recommend that you review your decisions and documents regularly. This is particularly important if there is a change in your health, personal or living situation.

You can change or revoke these documents at any time by completing a new document. The most recent dated document overrides the older document. It is important to inform your attorney/sand the ACT Health Advance Care Planning Program of the changes and provide them with copies of the new documents.

Your Health Direction ends when you complete a new Health Direction, you revoke it, it expires (if an expiry date is included) or you die.

Your Enduring Power of Attorney ends if you revoke it, if the people appointed are unable to act, if they resign their appointment or if you die.

Getting help

Contact our National Advance Care Planning Support ServiceTM on 1300 208 582 for more information and advice. We're available 9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday (AEST).

Applicability in other states and territories

In general, valid advance care planning documents will apply in other places in Australia, although there may be some limitations and additional requirements. Learn more about applicability in specific states and territories.

Legal information

For more in-depth legal information, read about advance care planning laws in the ACT.

See also

Last updated: September 2023