End of Life Law in Australia

What treatment decisions can a substitute decision-maker make?

Treatment decision-making by a substitute decision-maker

What treatment decisions can a substitute decision-maker make?

A substitute decision-maker with authority to make treatment decisions can make decisions about any treatment except sterilisation. These include decisions about consenting or refusing consent to the commencement or continuation of any treatment, and decisions about medical or surgical treatment or health care, including a life-sustaining measure or palliative care.

In the case of a guardian or Enduring Guardian however, the decisions which can be made will depend on the powers granted to the guardian by the SAT, or to the Enduring Guardian in an Enduring Power of Guardianship.

Where a guardian is a plenary guardian, they will have all the powers a parent would if the person with impaired capacity were their child. This means they will be able to make most medical treatment decisions for the person, including decisions about withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment.

If a guardian is appointed to make a treatment decision (which includes a decision to consent or refuse consent), this power includes deciding whether or not the treatment is provided.

If a person is appointed a limited guardian they will only have the powers which are granted to them by the SAT.