New medical treatment decision laws: VCAT's role

Posted on 09 Mar 2018

From 12 March 2018, new laws on medical treatment decisions will be introduced which expands VCAT’s role.

The Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 seeks to put people’s preferences and values at the centre of medical treatment decision making. The new laws give people more control about the medical treatment they want to receive at a future time when they are unable to make those decisions for themselves, for example due to illness or disabilityDefinitionA condition that restricts a person's physical or mental capacity to interact in their environment. Disability can be temporary, situational or permanent. .

Victorians can now make an advance care directiveDefinitionA document that sets out a person’s binding instructions or preferences and values about medical treatment. The directive is referred to when the person does not have the capacity to make decisions about their medical treatment. containing their instructions and values about future medical treatment, appoint someone to make medical decisions on their behalf, and appoint a support personDefinitionIn cases about medical treatment and advance care directives, this is someone who represents another person’s interests about medical treatment. They support a person to make, communicate and help bring about the person’s medical treatment decisions. to help them make decisions for themselves.

If there is dispute or uncertainty, people can come to VCAT for a decision or advice on behalf of the person needing treatment. There is no cost to apply.

Decisions VCAT can make

VCAT can make decisions about:

  • medical treatment decisions
  • whether a person needing treatment has decision making capacity
  • advance care directives
  • medical treatment decision makers
  • support persons
  • medical research procedures.

Who can apply?

Family members, friends, health practitioners, medical treatment decision makers, or anyone else with an interest in the person needing treatment can apply to VCAT for a decision.

Health practitioners and medical treatment decision makers can also come to VCAT for advice about medical treatment or an advance care directive.

More information