The Act gives people greater opportunity to make their own medical treatment decisions. A key change is the ability to make decisions for future medical conditions, where previously this could only be done for current conditions.
Victorians are now able to create a legally binding advance care directive that allows them to:
- Make an instructional directive (which provides specific directives about treatment a person consents to or refuses).
- Make a values directive (which will describe a person's views and values. A medical treatment decision maker and health practitioners are required to give effect to a values directive).
Victorians are now also able to appoint a:
- Medical treatment decision maker (who can make decisions on behalf of a person when they no longer have decision making capacity).
- Support person (who can assist a person to make decisions for themselves, by collecting and interpreting information or assisting the person to communicate their decisions).
This legislative change gives Victorians greater confidence that the health system will respect their decisions about medical treatment.
An advance care directive is a document where a person may express their preferences and values in relation to medical treatment. These documents are already used throughout Victoria and are ideally created through a process of advance care planning that includes conversations with family, friends and health practitioners.
Advance care directives now have statutory recognition, ensuring that the legal status of a these documents is clear. This means that people can be certain about the effect of the advance care directives they create and that health practitioners are clear about their obligations.