The Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 commenced in Victoria on 12 March 2018.
The new Act specifies who has the legal authority to make medical treatment decisions if you are unable to make those decisions yourself.
The Act allows you to appoint a Medical Treatment Decision Maker. This document enables you to choose the person whom you would like to make the medical decisions on your behalf. The person must be over the age of 18 years and must be willing and able to make the decision.
In the absence of an appointed Medical Treatment Decision Maker, the person who would be responsible for making your medical decisions are:
1. A guardian appointed by VCAT to make decisions about your medical treatment
2. The first person in the list below who is in a close and continuing relationship with you:
a. your spouse or domestic partner
b. your primary carer (not a paid service provider)
c. your adult child
d. your parent
e. your adult sibling.
If you have, for example, more than two children, it is the oldest child who would be asked to make the decision.
The Medical Treatment Decision Maker must consider the likely effects and consequences of the proposed medical treatment, consider the person’s preferences and values and consult the person’s closest family members.
The new Act also allows a person to make advance care directives. This document sets out your preferences or values in relation to medical treatment and is binding on your Medical Treatment Decision Maker.
An advance care directive may contain one or both of the following:
1. An instructional directive which provides instructions about future medical treatment which you consent to or refuse. It is legally binding on your Medical Treatment Decision Maker.
2. A values directive which sets out your values and preferences which you would like taken into consideration when decisions are being made about your medical treatment. It is not binding on your Medical Treatment Decision Maker.
The new Act also allows a person to appoint a support person. The role of the support person is to assist in making medical treatment decisions whilst the person still has capacity.
The new Act significantly changes the way in which medical treatment decisions are made on behalf of persons who have lost their decision-making capacity. It allows people to have control over their medical treatment even after they deemed to be incapable of making their own decisions. The Act ensures that a person’s personal preferences and values are taken into consideration.
If you would like further advice or would like to update your existing Medical (or other) Powers of Attorney, please make an appointment to meet with one of our experienced Wills & Estates Lawyers.