ACT

Forms and requirements for writing Advance Care Directives and appointing substitute decision-makers vary between and states and territories.

The following outlines the legal requirements, forms and fact sheets in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT):


Frequently asked questions

Advance care planning and the law

If you are unable to make decisions about your own health care, substitute decision-makers can make decisions on your behalf. Your substitute decision-maker may be:

  • nominated by you (an attorney)
  • appointed by a tribunal (a guardian), or
  • appointed by default under legislation (a health attorney).

Appointing an Attorney

You can appoint one or more adults as your attorney by completing an Enduring Power of Attorney form.

  • Your attorney must be a person. You cannot appoint a corporation.
  • Your attorney can make decisions relating to refusal/withdrawal of treatment and give consent for procedures.
  • They cannot give consent for a medical research matter or a ‘special health care matter’ (e.g. abortion, reproductive sterilisation, removal of non- regenerative tissue for transplantation).

Guardian

A guardian is a person appointed by the Australian Capital Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

A guardian can make decisions relating to health care. They cannot consent to ‘prescribed medical procedures’ (e.g. abortion, reproductive sterilisation, removal of non-regenerative tissue for transplantation).

Health attorney

A health attorney is the person designated under ACT law to make decisions if there is no attorney or guardian. Your health attorney would be chosen on your behalf in the following order:
  1. your domestic partner
  2. your carer
  3. a close relative or close friend.

(This means your carer would be chosen as your health attorney if you don’t have a domestic partner, and a close relative or friend would be chosen if you don’t have a domestic partner or a carer.)

Health Direction

A Health Direction is a formal document recognised by law. It only comes into effect if you are unable to make your own decisions. 

Your Health Direction allows you to refuse or withdraw medical treatment (but not palliative care) and consent to commencement of treatments. 

You must use the recommended form, unless you make your Health Direction orally (by saying what you want). 

To be legally binding, the Health Direction must be signed by two witnesses. An oral Health Direction must be witnessed by two health professionals (one of whom is a doctor), who are present at the same time.  

We recommend that you regularly review your Health Direction. Usually, health professionals are obliged to comply with the preferences stated in your Health Direction, so ensure it is kept up to date.  

If you want to change your Health Direction, make a new one to revoke the existing Health Direction. We encourage you to upload your Health Direction to My Health Record and give a copy to your substitute decision-maker, GP and/or hospital.

A person may revoke their health direction in writing or orally by clearly expressing a decision to revoke it. The legislation is silent about amending a health direction. A person who wants to amend their health direction should be encouraged to revoke it and make a new one.
A health care professional must not comply with a Health Direction unless they believe, on reasonable grounds, that the direction complies with the legislation and the person who made the directive has not revoked it or changed their decision since making it.
In the ACT, a person with a mental illness can make an ‘advance agreement’ about their care and treatment preferences, and/or an ‘advance consent direction’ in relation to consent or refusal for treatment.

A Health Direction made in the ACT will apply in:

  • South Australia (if it complies with South Australian law).
  • Northern Territory (as long as the substitute decision-maker works within Northern Territory requirements).
  • Queensland (if it meets the Queensland Advance Health Directive requirements).
  • Western Australia (if an order is made by the State Administrative Tribunal to recognise the plan).
  • Victoria (from 12 March 2018) (if it complies with Australian Capital Territory and Victorian law it will be recognised as a values directive).

Please contact the Office of the Public Advocate for more information if you wish.


Forms

Advance care planning forms

  • Form

    Health Direction form (ACT)

    ACT Government

    With the Health Direction form, a person can legally record their future healthcare decisions, including refuse medical treatment generally, or withhold or withdraw treatment of a particular kind.
  • Form

    Enduring Power of Attorney (ACT)

    ACT Government

    View the form to legally appoint a substitute decision-maker in the Australian Capital Territory.
  • Form

    Advance Care Plan Statement of Choices - Competent Person (ACT)

    ACT Government

    Form for a person able to make decisions to record choices regarding future medical treatments and procedures, to inform a substitute decision-maker and doctor.
  • Form

    Advance Care Plan Statement of Choices - No Legal Capacity (ACT)

    ACT Government

    If a person is no longer able to make or communicate their decisions, a substitute decision-maker can record choices regarding medical treatments and procedures on a person's behalf using this No Legal Capacity form.
  • Form

    Advance Agreement for Mental Health (ACT)

    ACT Government

    An Advance Agreement outlines your preferences regarding mental health treatment - to communicate to health providers what treatments work best for you as well as ones that do not work well and highlighting the things in your life that may be affected in times of illness.
  • Form

    Advance Consent Direction for Mental Health (ACT)

    ACT Government

    An Advance Consent Direction is for those who have decision making capacity and have consulted with their treating team about options for treatment, care or support. It outlines your preferences regarding your mental health treatment if you are too unwell to be able to make decisions.

Fact sheets

Advance care planning fact sheets

  • Fact sheet

    Advance care planning and the law: ACT

    Advance Care Planning Australia

    This fact sheet is for individuals, providing an overview of advance care planning and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) law.
  • Fact sheet

    Advance care planning fact sheet for individuals and family

    Advance Care Planning Australia

    Information about advance care planning for individuals and their families.
  • Fact sheet

    Advance care planning fact sheet for substitute decision-makers

    Advance Care Planning Australia

    Information about advance care planning for substitute decision-makers.
  • Fact sheet

    Advance care planning and legal requirements: ACT

    Advance Care Planning Australia

    This fact sheet for health professionals gives specific information about advance care planning and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) law.
  • Fact sheet

    Advance care planning fact sheet for care workers

    Advance Care Planning Australia

    Information about advance care planning for care workers.
  • Fact sheet

    Advance care planning fact sheet for healthcare professionals

    Advance Care Planning Australia

    Information about advance care planning for healthcare professionals.