Advance Care Planning

Advance care planning (ACP) is a series of steps you can take to help you plan for your future health care. ACP is based on the principles of autonomy and dignity.

You have the right to make decisions about your health care, now and for the future. Medical treatment should only be given with your fully informed consent and you have the right to refuse treatment.

If, in the future, you become unable to express your choices for treatment, your doctors and family/friends may not know what you would want. ACP gives you the opportunity to think about, discuss and record, ahead of time, your choices.

Advance care planning is ONLY used if/ when you lose legal capacity to make decisions and express your wishes and choices about your medical treatment.

If you need assistance or would like more information please contact Advance Care Planning Program 5124 9274 or email

Why is ACP important?

Up to 50% of Australians will not be able to make or express their own decisions when they are near death. Doctors and family members will be unaware of any treatment preferences at this time if these have not been discussed and recorded earlier.

Often, families are unaware of their loved one’s views about what they would want done when too ill to speak for themselves. Families often feel burdened by the concern that they will make a wrong choice.

If you haven’t documented your preferences or identified a substitute decision-maker, and you become seriously ill or injured, doctors will make treatment decisions based on their assessment of your best interests. This may include treatments that you may or may not want.

What documents do I need?

The 3 ways you can record your choices include:

  1. Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)
  2. Advance Care Plan Statement of Choices (Competent Person) or Advance Care Plan Statement of Choices (No Legal Capacity)
  3. Health Direction

The EPA and Health Direction are both legal documents. The ACP is used as a supporting document. It provides additional information about your specific wishes regarding healthcare decisions. You can request a copy of these documents by emailing or calling 5124 9274.

Where do I register them?

It is important that you upload your documents to MyDHR – the online patient portal that gives you access to your own ACT public health information held on the Digital Health Record (DHR). If you are unable to upload your documents, email or send copies of your documents to:

Canberra Health Services - Health Information Services

PO Box 11

Woden ACT 2606.

Or email to

You are also encouraged to upload your documents onto My Health Record (a national digital summary of health information managed by the Commonwealth Government's Australian Digital Health Agency) so these can be accessed anywhere across Australia. You may also like to give a copy to your GP and your attorney/s.

Who can help me complete my documents?

Trained ACP facilitators can assist you with completing the documents or introducing the subject with your family. Please contact the Program if you would like to speak with a trained facilitator.

If you have been diagnosed with a life limiting illness and/or chronic condition you may wish to discuss ACP with your own GP. Your GP will know you and have an understanding of your illness and the likely treatments and illness path over time. This information will assist you in completing your advance care plan.

How do I change or revoke my documents?

There are a number of reasons why you might want to change or revoke documents. Your relationship with your attorney/s may change; the person you appointed is no longer appropriate for the role and/or your medical and other circumstances or wishes may have changed.

You can change or revoke these documents by completing a NEW document. The most recent dated document overrides the older document. It is important to inform your attorney/s and the ACP of the changes and provide them with copies of the new documents.

Should you lose capacity again these powers are reinstated until capacity is regained. If your capacity is not regained the attorney/s powers will continue to be exercised.

Joint initiatives

ACT Health is working in partnership with the Healthcare Consumers Association ACT (HCCA) to increase awareness of ACP in the community. ‘A conversation for everyone’ provides an introduction to ACP, as well as further information and resources.

The focus is to work closely with community groups, in particular culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities and disadvantaged groups. As part of this iniitative, resources including the Advance Healthcare Workbook and Plan have been developed to assist people with intellectual disabilities. For more information please visit

Page last updated on: 27 Jun 2023