Victorians will have more control of the treatment they receive at the end of their lives.

The Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act came into effect on 12 March 2018 and makes advance care directives legally binding.

While advance care planning has been available to Victorians for some time, accessing it hasn’t been straightforward. The new law streamlines the process, and clarifies the legal obligations.

Having an advance care plan means that if you were to ever lose the ability to communicate or make decisions, those caring for you would know exactly what medical treatment you did or didn’t want.

The new law also opens up advance care planning to include current as well as future medical conditions. It also includes the option of stating instructions on specific treatment you do or don’t want, and a description of your views, goals of care and wishes.

This reform came out of the 2016 Parliamentary Inquiry into End-of-Life Choices, which found that patients who had plans like this were more likely to receive treatment that reflected their wishes.

The inquiry also found that people with advance care plans were less likely to receive invasive medical interventions, and significantly reduced anxiety for them and their loved ones.

Existing advance care plans will be recognised under the new law, as will substitute decision-makers.

For more information, visit the Advance care plans page on our Better Health Channel.