In 2015, Victoria overhauled its legislation relating to Enduring Powers of Attorney for financial and personal decisions. You can read about the changes that have been implemented here.
On 12 March 2018, Victoria’s position on medical treatment decisions will also change.
Currently, you can appoint:
- a medical agent under an Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment) to make medical treatment decisions on your behalf, if you are unable to make these decisions for yourself; or
- an attorney under an Enduring Power of Attorney to make decisions for personal and health care matters on your behalf.
The key changes will include:
- The ability to appoint more than one person to make medical treatment decisions on your behalf. Currently, only one person can be appointed in this role.
- The introduction of a legally binding Advanced Care Directive (Directive) for instructional and value based directives, such as treatments to consent to and refuse, and preferences and values for future medical treatment.
- The Enduing Power of Attorney must be witnessed by two persons, including one who is either a registered medical practitioner or a person authorised to take affidavits. Currently, one of the witnesses must be authorised to witness statutory declarations. This brings the witnessing requirements in line with the 2015 changes to Enduring Powers of Attorney.
- Requiring the person you appoint as your medical agent to formally accept their appointment by confirming the obligations and the importance of the role. Currently, this is not a requirement.
- The introduction of a support person whose role will be to assist with representing and communicating a person’s medical treatment decisions and represent their decisions. However, the support person cannot make medical treatment decisions. This is a new role introduced by the changes.
- The introduction of criminal offences for persons who “impersonate” an appointed medical treatment decision-maker or “induce” their appointment as a medical treatment decision maker. These are new protection mechanisms.
No changes have been made to end of life decisions.
What does this mean for clients?
The changes are a significant improvement from the current framework.
Existing Enduring Powers of Attorney (Medical Treatment) will remain valid. However, clients should consider whether to update their documents from 12 March 2018, particularly if they wish to:
- appoint more than one person as their medical treatment decision maker; and
- make a Directive.