Medical Planning

Advanced directives

These are statements written by you that say which treatments you would and would not like to have when you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself. Both doctors and an agent with enduring power of attorney will take these into consideration when making decisions about treatment on your behalf. In an advanced directive you can make recommendations on what sort of treatment you would choose to have, or not to have, if this circumstance should arise. These sorts of circumstances and treatments should be discussed with your GP and your family. 1

You may also complete a Refusal of Treatment Certificate, but only for a condition you are currently suffering. If a person is not currently suffering from a particular condition, they may express their wishes through an Advanced Directive. This is helpful for doctors and carers when, later, the person suffering from dementia is no longer able to express their wishes in relation to these matters, but has no legal standing at this time. 3

Enduring power of attorney for medical and lifestyle decisions

There are several types of directives that can be used for health and lifestyle matters. In all states and territories, except Western Australia, you can appoint someone with enduring power of attorney (medical treatment). This person is then able to make decisions about your treatment or refuse treatment on your behalf.1 An enduring power of guardianship (in Victoria) allows you to appoint someone else to make decisions about both your medical treatment and your lifestyle, such as where you will live. However, the person you appoint has no ability to refuse medical treatment on your behalf. 1

In some states, an enduring power of attorney (medical treatment) is called an enduring guardianship. As such, it is very important for you to use information and forms relevant to your state. These can be found in the table below. Users from outside Australia should contact their local legal aid or public advocacy department as a useful starting point.

State-by-state information on legal resources for medical treatment

StateDepartmentPhone NumberInformation SheetsForms
ACT Public Advocate of the ACT 02 6207 0707 Enduring Power of Attorney Health Direction Click
New South Wales Office of the Public Guardian 1800 451 510 Enduring Guardian  Advance Care Directive Click
Northern Territory Office of Adult Guardianship 08 8922 7343 Adult Guardianship Order Advance Care Plan Contact Office of Adult Guardianship
Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney General 1300 780 666 Enduring Powers of Attorney Advance Health Directive Click
South Australia Office of the Public Trustee 08 8226 9200 Enduring Power of Guardianship Refer Public Trustee or lawyer
Tasmania Guardianship and Administration Board 03 6233 3085 Enduring Guardianship Click
Victoria Office of the Public Advocate 1300 309 337 Powers of Attorney (medical treatment) Click
Western Australia State Administrative Tribunal 1300 306 017 Guardianship Order Click for online form completion

References and recommended reading

  1. Alzheimer's Australia (2005). Legal Planning and Dementia, Position Paper 5. Available from
  2. Office of the Public Advocate. (2006). Powers of Attorney. Available from 
  3. Alzheimers Australia. (2005). Legal Planning and Dementia. Available from
  4. Alzheimer's Australia (2001). Driving and Dementia: A Background Paper. Available from
  5. O'Neill, D., Neubauer, K., Boyle, M., Gerrard, J., & Surmon, D. (1992). Dementia and driving. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 85, 199-202.