Before documenting your plan in South Australia, 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 form to make an advance care directive.

Recording your choices

In South Australia you can record your choices for future medical care by completing an Advance Care Directive.

In your Advance Care Directive, you can:

  • write instructional directives with legally binding instructions about future medical treatment you refuse
  • write instructional directives about medical treatment you consent to (these are not legally binding)
  • write a values directive which documents your values and preferences for your substitute decision-maker to consider when making decisions for you
  • appoint a substitute decision-maker.

Medical treatment includes treatment for physical and mental conditions.

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For example, you might ask that life-prolonging treatment - such as tube feeding or resuscitation - be withheld or withdrawn if you have: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

Appointing a substitute decision-maker

When you appoint a substitute decision-maker, you are choosing a trusted relative or friend to make medical treatment decisions on your behalf if you are not able to do so in the future.

You may want to appoint one or more adults to this role. To do this you need to complete the Advance Care Directive form. The form has specific requirements for completion and witnessing. Your chosen substitute decision-maker must accept this role by signing the form.

Your substitute decision-maker can consent to or refuse treatment on your behalf. They must act in accordance with any lawful conditions 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.

If you do not appoint a substitute decision-maker yourself, one may be:

  • appointed for you by a guardianship tribunal
  • identified for you by a default list under legislation.

Completing your Advance Care Directive

There are two ways to complete an Advance Care Directive:

The online form includes helpful tips and suggested statements that you may want to use. When you have finished you will need to print the form, sign it and have it witnessed before it will be legally valid. A copy will also be emailed to you directly as soon as you save the completed form.

The downloadable form also contains detailed instructions. Once you have filled out and signed the form, you will need to have it witnessed before it will be legally valid.

Do you need information in other languages?

  • Find advance care planning information specific to South Australia in other languages
  • Find general information on advance care planning in other languages.

Example form and guide

To get an idea of what you can include in your Advance Care Directive and how to complete the form, see this example form.

The Government of South Australia has also created a step-by-step guide that has everything you need to know to complete your Advance Care Directive.

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.

It’s important that you share copies of your documents with your substitute decision-maker, 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 update your Advance Care Directive at any time providing you still have decision-making capacity. To update your Advance Care Directive you must create a new one.

Your Advance Care Directive ends when you complete a new Advance Care Directive, you revoke it, it expires (if an expiry date is included) or you die. You should let others know of any changes, and provide updated copies.

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

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 South Australia.

Last updated: September 2023