Department of Health

Key messages

  • The advance care planning strategy 2014-2018 provides guidance for health services in Victoria.
  • The strategy aims to ensure all Victorians will have opportunities to express their preferences to inform future treatment through advance care planning.
  • Four priority actions areas have been designed to enable the implementation across organisations.
  • An expected outcome of the strategy is that advance care planning will be integrated into routine healthcare within Victoria.
  • The Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 has given statutory recognition to advance care directives, allowing competent Victorians to document their treatment preferences for existing and/or future conditions.

Victoria’s advance care planning strategy, Advance care planning: have the conversation - a strategy for Victorian health services 2014-2018, provides guidance for health services in Victoria to develop and implement advance care planning.

The strategy aims to increase opportunities for people to develop advance care plans and for these to be activated.

The vision

All Victorians who access health services will be given opportunities to express their preferences for future treatment and care through advance care planning.

They will be supported to develop an advance care plan that guides medical treatment and care needs if they become unable to communicate or participate in decision-making.

Key priority action areas

The strategy sets key measures in four priority action areas.

1. Establish robust systems for organisations to have the necessary conversation.

2. Ensure an evidence-based, quality approach to the conversation.

3. Increase opportunities for the conversation within the workforce.

4. Enable the person in care to participate in the conversation.

Expected outcomes of the strategy

The strategy has the following expected outcomes:

  • Victorians are supported in using advance care planning to communicate their future healthcare choices
  • health services approach advance care planning in a systematic way
  • mutual recognition of advance care plans occurs across services and sectors and along the person’s care pathway
  • advance care planning is integrated into routine healthcare
  • preferences are known and respected after the person loses decision-making capacity
  • clinical treatment plans written by clinicians are consistent with the person’s expressed values and preferred care outcomes, as recorded in their advance care plan.

The Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016

The Act provides a framework for medical treatment decision making for people who do not have the capacity to make their own decisions, and creates clear obligations for health practitioners caring for people who do not have decision making capacity.

This includes allowing people to make decisions in advance, through an advance care directive, about medical treatment they do or do not want in future if they do not have decision-making capacity.

The Act is part of a broader shift towards empowering people to make their own treatment decisions. This includes clear recognition that, wherever possible, people should be supported in making their own decisions.

As of 12 March 2018 Victorians will be able to create a legally binding advance care directive that will allow them to:

  • Make an instructional directive (which will provide specific directives about treatment a person consents to or refuses).
  • Make a values directive (which will describe a person's views and values. A medical treatment decision maker and health practitioners will be required to give effect to a values directive).
  • Appoint a medical treatment decision maker (who will make decisions on behalf of a person when they no longer have decision making capacity).
  • Appoint a support person (who will assist a person to make decisions for themselves, by collecting and interpreting information or assisting the person to communicate their decisions).


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Reviewed 09 August 2023


Contact details

Senior Policy Officer, Advance Care Planning Department of Health & Human Services

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