Before documenting your plan in New South Wales (NSW), 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 learn about the process and find the relevant forms to make an advance care directive.

Recording your choices

In NSW, there are two ways you can record your choices for future medical care:

  1. Appoint an enduring guardian
  2. Complete an Advance Care Directive

Enduring guardian

When you appoint an enduring guardian, you are choosing a trusted relative or friend to manage your health care. The person you appoint becomes your substitute decision-maker if you are no longer able to make decisions.

You may want to appoint one or more adults to this role. To do this, you need to complete the Appointment of Enduring Guardian form [PDF 2.45 MB].

The form has specific requirements for completion and witnessing. Your chosen enduring guardian must accept this role by signing the form.

Your enduring guardian 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 Directive

An Advance Care Directive records your specific preferences for future health care. This includes treatments you would accept or refuse if you had a life-threatening illness or injury. An Advance Care Directive will only be used if you do not have capacity to make decisions for yourself or to communicate your preferences.

In NSW you do not need to use a specific form to record your choices for future medical care. If you choose, you can create an Advance Care Directive simply by writing down your preferences in a structured way, signing and dating it.

However, the NSW government has created an Advance Care Directive form [PDF 1.51 MB] that can make the process easier. The form also includes a guide to help you complete your Advance Care Directive.

In your Advance Care Directive, you can write:

  • an instructional directive with legally binding instructions about future medical treatment you consent to or refuse
  • a values directive which documents your values and preferences for your substitute decision-maker to consider when making decisions for you
  • details of your enduring guardian(s) or Person(s) Responsible

Specific instructions

In your Advance Care Directive, 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

Completing an advance care plan for someone else

If a person is no longer able to make or communicate their decisions, a family member or healthcare professional can document medical treatment preferences on a person’s behalf using the Advance care plan for a person with insufficient decision-making capacity form. [PDF 620.78 KB]

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

Storing your documents

We recommend uploading your documents to My Health Record.

Share copies of your documents with your enduring guardian, 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 your Advance Care Directive as often as you like, or revoke it, as long as you have capacity.

If you revoke it, it’s important to make sure you let people know and destroy all copies. If you change your Advance Care Directive, you should make sure you let people know and replace all of the copies with a new Advance Care Directive.

If you do not revoke your Advance Care Directive, it will not expire.

You can revoke your appointment of an enduring guardian by completing a Revocation of Appointment of Enduring Gaurdian form.

An enduring guardian may also resign by completing a Notice of Resignation as Enduring Guardian form. This form can only be used if the appointor still has the capacity to make personal decisions. Otherwise, the enduring guardian can only resign with approval from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

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, a valid advance care directive 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 NSW.

See also

Last updated: September 2023