Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA) has welcomed National Volunteer Week’s 2019 theme, Making a World of Difference, taking the opportunity to acknowledge the nation-wide impact of their small but mighty volunteer team of 12.
As the national authority on advance care planning, ACPA has empowered thousands of Australians to plan for a time when they are unable to make their own healthcare decisions, due to illness or incapacity.
Funded by the Australian Government, ACPA operates a free, nationwide advisory service which is part operated by volunteers. Each month they receive hundreds of calls from the public and health professionals, seeking help to navigate the complexities of advance care planning.
The volunteers offer specialist advice to callers, which include starting the conversation and how to write an Advance Care Directive, and also help them access forms relevant to each state and territory.
“Our volunteers are extraordinary individuals who contribute incredible professional expertise and life experience to support Australians across our diverse country with their advance care planning needs,” said Linda Nolte, Program Director for ACPA.
Despite an ageing population, advance care planning awareness and uptake in Australia remains low. Less than 15% of Australians have documented their preferences in an Advance Care Directive. The Australian government has identified advance care planning as a national healthcare priority, and the development and growth of the National Advisory Service as a key deliverable.
The ACPA National Advisory Service receives queries from a range of people wanting to provide clarity for themselves and their loved ones about their future health care. Callers include people with early dementia, those facing a life-limiting disease such cancer, and health professionals wanting to better support their patients. The service also receives queries from people with ageing parents, as well as younger individuals keen to safeguard against unexpected medical emergencies.
“Our volunteers provide a vital community service to Australians in need of support and advice about planning their future health care. We look forward to working with our volunteers, growing our team and increasing their impact,” said Linda.
The National Advisory service operates Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm AEST. Freecall 1300 208 582.
 White B, Tilse C, Wilson J, et al. Prevalence and predictors of advance directives in Australia. Internal medicine journal. 2014; 44: 975-80.