Advance Care Planning

Every competent adult in NSW has the legal right to accept or refuse any recommended medical treatment. At this time, people having medical treatment in NSW are not entitled to ask for assistance to die.

Your end-of-life choices can only be respected if those involved know what you want and what you do not want. If you are unable to make and communicate your own decisions at the time of treatment, health professionals will refer to your advance care plan to identify your wishes and determine who can speak for you. DWD NSW recommends that every Australian adult makes an advance care plan, as you can lose the ability to communicate at any age eg. if you are the victim of a serious accident.

An advance care plan normally results in two completed documents:
1. An advance care directive.
2. An appointment of enduring guardianship.


Advance Care Planning is a process by which you reflect upon and document your personal values and preferences, to be used as a guide to your future health care in the event that you become unable to speak for yourself. It is about taking control of your health care wishes now and into the future.

Should you become seriously ill and not able to make or communicate your own decisions then your doctors and those you love will want to know your treatment preferences and your wishes into the future. If these preferences and wishes are documented in advance it will be of great help to everyone involved and avoid disagreements. Dying with Dignity NSW recommends that you write a plan while you are well, or in the early stage of dementia.

The most important steps in the process of advance care planning are:

  • discussing your health care wishes with your family, close friends and your doctor.
  • thinking about what treatments you would want to have, and which you would refuse.
  • writing down your wishes in an “Advance Care Directive”
  • choosing a trusted person to be your “Enduring Guardian”. This is a person, or persons, who knows you and your wishes and whom you would trust to make decisions about your medical care if you are not able to.

An advance care plan normally results in two completed and signed documents:

  • An Advance Care Directive in which you clearly state your wishes in relation to your medical treatment.
  • An Appointment of Enduring Guardianship.

These documents will remain in force until they are required, if ever, or until you write a new advance care plan if your health or circumstances change.

Dying with Dignity NSW have prepared a guide to help you understand what you need to know about the planning process, choosing the right form for you and advice on how to go about completing the forms.

It also includes a section of Things to discuss with my family and friends before completing an Advance Care Directive

Click here for the DWD NSW Guide to advance care planning in NSW February 2018

Dying with Dignity NSW has prepared a comprehensive Advance Care Planning Pack as a service to our members and supporters to encourage them to start having conversations with their friends and family about their end-of-life choices.

The Pack includes our Guide to Advance Care Planning, two template Advance Care Directives and the form for the appointment of an Enduring Guardian

A printed copy of our Advance Care Planning Pack is provided free to all new DWD new members.  You can order a printed copy to be mailed to you through our Webstore: link here. The cost is $20 per set.

To obtain a soft copy of the materials you can download a free copy of the Advance Care Planning Pack through our Webstore: link here.

Alternatively you can access the materials using  the links below:

1. DWD NSW Guide to advance care planning in NSW (March 2023)

2. NSW advance care directive by Professor Colleen Cartwright (2023 edition)

3. NSW Health - advance care directive 2022

4. NSW Appointment of enduring guardianship form (Nov 2019)

An Advance Care Directive does not need to be in a specific form and there are many different templates available. Our Advance Care Planning Pack includes two options for you to consider:

Since 2008, the Board of Dying with Dignity NSW has endorsed an advance care directive created by Professor Colleen Cartwright. This form is very  comprehensive and specific enough to guide complex medical decisions.  It is widely endorsed by Australian health professionals.  While many people prefer a less detailed document, Professor Cartwright’s document is a very useful tool to help you and your family consider the circumstances which might arise should you become seriously ill.

We have also provided a version created by NSW Health. It is a shorter, more values-based form, which may be simpler for some people to use. It does not attempt to cover all possible medical situations, but records statements about your personal values which could be very helpful for the person responsible for making health decisions on your behalf.

Dying with Dignity NSW has compiled a list of resources to enable you to get more information about Advance Care Planning. The list is not exhaustive, and is current at March 2023.

Advance Care Planning Resources

Advance Care Planning Australia Ph 1300 208 582 - provides information and ACD forms by state in many languages - 

NSW Health – Advance Care Planning Resources - Link to NSW Health Resources

Dementia Australia - phone the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 or see the advance care planning section of their website, which includes the 'Planning for end of life publication and lecture series' featuring Professor Colleen Cartwright. Link to Dementia Australia Resources

My Health Record – You can upload your advance planning documents to your My Health Record. This link has more information: www.digitalhealth

NSW Trustee and Guardian - Ph 1300 364 103 - Provides resources related to the appointment, revocation or resignation of enduring guardianship.

The Law Society of NSW – use their Solicitor Referral Service to find a local solicitor with experience in this area or phone 02 9926 0300 (Sydney) or 1800 422 713 (outside Sydney) - Link to NSW Law Society - Find a Lawyer Tool

For information about death and dying more generally

Violet (formerly Life Circle Australia) – Ph 1800 846 538 - supports family and friends caring for a dying person and those dealing with grief and loss -

The Groundswell Project – their vision is that when someone is dying, caring or grieving, we all know what to do. They started 'Dying to Know You Day' on 8 August each year -

End of life law in Australia by Queensland University of Technology – here you will find detailed information about Australian laws relating to death, dying and decision-making at the end of life -

Dying with Dignity’s Advance Care Planning Pack

To access our Advance Care Planning Pack you can order a printed copy for $20 or download a soft copy free of charge through our Webstore: 

Link to download soft copy

Link to order hard copy by mail

If you are having trouble down loading documents or purchasing printed forms please get in touch at [email protected].

All new members automatically receive a set of printed forms as part of their new member pack. You can become a member of DWD using this link

Yes. Although NSW does not have a specific statute governing Advance Care Directives, they are legally binding under common law (as confirmed by NSW Supreme Court in 2009), provided the person is mentally competent at the time of completing their directive and it has been made free from coercion.

The legally binding effect of an Advance Care Directive is confined to refusals of treatment. A demand or request in an Advance Care Directive for a particular form of treatment does not mean the health care provider is legally obliged to provide it. However, but it may be considered as indicating your consent to the treatment. In addition, the preferences you make in your Advance Care Directive are likely to be taken into account by anyone concerned with promoting your best interests at a time when you are unable to speak for yourself.

Please be aware that it is not possible to request or consent to voluntary assisted dying (VAD) in an Advance Care Directive or for an Enduring Guardian to do so on your behalf.  It is a key feature of the VAD laws passed in all Australian states that the person must have decision making capacity at the time of requesting and accessing VAD.

The nomination of an Enduring Guardian is legally binding under The NSW Guardianship Act 1987.


Professor Colleen Cartwright

To access our Advance Care Planning Pack you can order a printed copy for $20 or download a soft copy free of charge through our Webstore: link here

If you are having trouble down loading documents or purchasing printed forms please get in touch at [email protected].

All new members automatically receive a set of printed forms as part of their new member pack. You can become a member of DWD using this link