National effort to start an important conversation

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Health sector leaders from across Australia have joined forces to promote awareness of the inaugural National Advance Care Planning Week, with hosted events across the nation from Kalgoorlie, Western Australia to Cape Barren Island in Tasmania. 

Together they are asking Australians of all ages and health to consider who they would like to speak for them if they were too sick to speak for themselves and what health care decisions they would want them to make.

National Advance Care Planning Week ambassadors represent clinical experts, researchers, authors and peak body and policy leaders, Australia-wide. They include:

  • Dr Chris Moy, Chair of the Ethics and Medico-legal Committee of the Australian Medical Association
  • Dr Karen Detering, Medical Director of Advance Care Planning Australia
  • Dr Will Cairns, Clinical Lead for Queensland’s Strategy for Care at the End of Life
  • Ms Liz Callaghan, CEO of Palliative Care Australia
  • Dr Craig Sinclair, Research Fellow at the Rural Clinical School of Western Australia 

Launching for the first time in Australia and funded by the Australian Government, National Advance Care Planning Week is part of an international public awareness effort, coinciding with significant advance care planning initiatives being held in the USA, Canada and New Zealand.

Minister for Health the Hon. Greg Hunt MP is pleased that this important health initiative is garnering support across Australia and focussing attention on advance care planning - a concept not well understood by the general public, but a critical part of healthy ageing.

“Around half of Australians will not be able to make their own end-of-life medical decisions, yet few people take the active steps required to enable control of their future health care. The week will challenge all Australians to start conversations with loved ones about what living well means to them,” says Minister Greg Hunt.

Dr Karen Detering, Medical Director of Advance Care Planning Australia commented, “the evidence is clear that advance care planning can help alleviate stress for people who find themselves asked to make medical decisions for loved ones in need”. 

“Do it for yourself. Do if for your loved ones. And ideally do it when you’re fit and well – don’t leave it to chance on the day you present at the emergency room,” says Dr Detering. 

More than 100 community groups and health care organisations across Australia have signed up to host an event as part of the initiative, starting an important conversation in their community about making their future health care preferences known. 

People can get involved in National Advance Care Planning Week by hosting or attending an event to raise awareness or by finding out more information about advance care planning.

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