Reforms to Advance Care Directives Pass Parliament

SA Gov

The Malinauskas Labor Government has strengthened laws in Parliament to support South Australians in making decisions about their future health care needs.

An Advance Care Directive enables a person with decision-making capacity, aged 18 years and older, to make decisions and give clear legal directions about their future health care, end of life, living arrangements, and other personal matters.

It can also be used to appoint one or more adults known as Substitute Decision-Makers to make decisions on their behalf.

Amendments have been made to the Advance Care Directives Act 2013 following a review undertaken by Professor Wendy Lacey in 2019. These new provisions implement recommendations, including:

  • *Providing greater confidence for clinicians in relying on the validity of digital copies of Advance Care Directives
  • Strengthening safeguards for the use of interpreters where English is not the first language of the person making the Advance Care Directive
  • Clearer requirements for appointing Substitute Decision-Makers
  • Clarifying the effect of Advance Care Directives in the case of suspected suicide or self-harm, and ensuring additional safeguards are in place to protect the community
  • Supporting the resolution of disputes by the Public Advocate and clarifying when relevant matters should be referred to the SA Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
  • Safeguards for clinical decision making in circumstances of apparent suicide or self-harm where an advance care directive is in place.

Work will be undertaken in the new year to establish the regulations in how this new legislation will take effect, including giving effect to Professor Lacey’s recommendations on who can witness an Advance Care Directive.

SA Health undertook broad consultation with the Advance Care Directive Steering Committee and with the community through the YourSAy platform in mid-2022 to redesign the current Advance Care Directive Form and Do-It-Yourself Guide.

The redesigned Advance Care Directive Kit will be launched following the making of the regulations in 2024 and will be made available at Service SA, selected libraries and online free of charge for all South Australians. Existing Advance Care Directives will still be valid.

For more information visit Advance Care Directives on the SA Health website.

As put by Chris Picton

Advance Care Directives play a vital role in ensuring that individuals’ healthcare preferences are respected, promoting dignity, autonomy, and peace of mind during critical medical situations.

I am pleased to see this new legislation pass Parliament yesterday that will help to strengthen this important system.

Thank you to all the key stakeholders and clinicians who were instrumental in leading this work over many years, including the Former Minister for Health, Hon Martyn Evans and the Advance Care Planning Oversight Group.

If you don’t have an Advance Care Directive in place this is a timely reminder to make sure you complete one so that your preferences are respected.

As put by Helen Chalmers, Executive Director, Health Services Programs

Choosing to have an Advance Care Directive is always a personal choice, and discussing your wishes with family and friends is a conversation I encourage people to have in the first instance.

These changes to the Act are a positive step that will further safeguard the South Australian population.

I encourage all South Australians who would like to learn more about Advance Care Directives to visit the SA Health website for more information.

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