Advance Health Directives

An Advance Health Directive (ADH) is a legal document for people over the age of 18 to advise their decisions in writing about their future healthcare treatment.

An ADH can come into effect if a person is unable to make reasonable judgments about their treatment in the future.

The Guardianship and Administration Act 1990

On the 15th February 2010, the legislation relating to Advance Health Directives, Enduring Power of Guardianship, and the hierarchy of decision-makers was passed in Western Australia (WA).

An AHD enables adults over 18 with capacity to plan for future medical decisions if they are unable to make decisions for themselves at a later time.

The legal basis for an AHD are the amended:

These amended pieces of legislation give increased certainty for health professions in the difficult area of end of life care.

The amendments to the Criminal Code provide exemption from criminal responsibility for the administration in good faith of reasonable medical treatment (including palliative care) even when death arises.

Legislative protection from criminal responsibility is extended to the withdrawal and withholding of medical treatment where the non-provision or cessation of that treatment is done in good faith and is reasonable in all the circumstances, in the event where death arises.

Hierarchy of decision makers

Many people believe that their next-of-kin has authority to give or refuse consent for their treatment. This is incorrect.

The hierarchy of decision makers is designed so that those who are most likely to know your beliefs and wishes are given the most authority to make decisions on your behalf.

If a person identified as being a decision maker is not contactable/readily available or declines to make a decision, the health professional needs to contact the next person in the hierarchy of decision makers.

If your treating health professional does not acknowledge (or accept) your partner, as your decision maker, your partner should contact the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) (external site).

De facto status includes same sex partners.

People can prevent others from getting involved in their care by appointing an Enduring Guardian (Healthy WA).

More information

Advance Health Directive

  • Phone: 9222 2300
  • Email: ACP@health.wa.gov.au
  • Mail: PO Box 8172, Perth Business Centre, Perth WA 6849

State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia

Produced by

WA Cancer and Palliative Care Network