Victoria Legal Aid

Medical treatment decisions

Information about legal documents that allow you to control who will make decisions about your medical treatment in the future if you’re not able to make those decisions for yourself.

There are steps that you can take now that allow you to have a say about your medical treatment in the future if you’re not able to make decisions for yourself because of an injury or illness. This is known as ‘advanced care planning’.

You can:

  • choose a person to make decisions about medical treatment for you (called a ‘medical treatment decision maker’)
  • record or write down your values and preferences about any future medical treatment you may need (called an ‘advance care directive’).

Medical treatment decision maker

You can choose to give a person the power to make decisions for you about your medical treatment. This person is called a ‘medical treatment decision maker’. Your medical treatment decision maker can only make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make these decisions because of injury or illness.

Your medical treatment decision maker should be someone you trust to respect your values and preferences for your medical treatment.

You can also appoint a ‘support person’ to help you to make, communicate to others and give effect to your medical treatment decisions. Unlike a medical treatment decision maker, a support person does not have the legal power to make decisions for you.

Advance care directive

You can also choose to record your values and preferences for your medical treatment in a legal document called an ‘advance care directive’. An advance care directive also allows you to make decisions now about your future medical treatment that must be followed.

Your advance care directive can include:

  • your values and preferences for your medical treatment to help your medical treatment decision maker with making decisions about your treatment. This is called a ‘values directive’.
  • legally binding statements which your doctors (and other health professionals) must follow. This is called an ‘instructional directive’ – you can say whether you agree to specific medical treatment. For example, you may decide that if you are diagnosed with cancer in the future, you do not want to have chemotherapy treatment.

Advance care planning

Health Vic has forms for recording your decisions about medical treatment in the futureExternal Link , if you are not able to communicate your wishes or if you no longer have decision-making capacity. Forms include:

  • Advance care directive for adults
  • Appointment of support person
  • Appointment of medical treatment decision-maker.

Health Vic also includes other resources to help with advance care planningExternal Link .

The Office of the Public AdvocateExternal Link has information and resources to help you choose and appoint a medical treatment decision maker or make an advance care directive.

On their website, you can also find Take Control [PDF 362KB]External Link , a guide to:

  • appointing a medical treatment decision maker
  • making an advance care directive
  • making an enduring power of attorney.

Other support

Office of the Public Advocate

The Office of the Public Advocate Advice ServiceExternal Link provides information, advice and assistance about medical treatment decision-making. The service is available during business hours and also accepts emergency enquiries at any time.

Call us for free information about the law and how we can help you.

If we can’t help, we can refer you to other organisations that can.

Your local community legal centreExternal Link can give you legal information and advice. Most services are free.

Seniors Rights VictoriaExternal Link provides information, support, advice and education to help prevent elder abuse and safeguard the rights, dignity and independence of older people.

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

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Reviewed 23 April 2022

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