Please be aware that new legislation related to planning ahead – the Advance Personal Planning Bill 2013 – was passed by the NT Parliament in November 2013 and came into effect on 17 March 2014. As changes are made to gradually implement this new legislation, this website will be updated to reflect these changes.
This page provides a plain-English overview of the legal processes involved in planning ahead, as well as links to local information. To get advice about your individual circumstances it is recommended that you consult with one of the agencies referred to below or a legal practitioner.
Apart from nominating a substitute decision-maker, how else can I document my wishes?
- While having conversations about your wishes is crucial, it is strongly recommended that you also document your wishes in at least one of the ways outlined below. This will avoid situations such as the person(s) you have spoken with not quite remembering what you had said, the person not being available when decisions need to be made or the person not relaying your views if they were not really in agreement with them.
- As the first option below has a clear legal basis in Northern Territory legislation, it is recommended that you explore this option first.
Complete an Advance Personal Plan
- This is a new form that was introduced as part of the Advance Personal Planning Act 2013..
- Within the Advance Personal Plan, there is the option of completing an Advance Consent Decision and/or an Advance Care Statement..
- An Advance Consent Decision will allow a person to give consent or refusal around life support and palliative care as well as specific treatments in the future such as blood transfusions, chemotherapy, radiation or antibiotics..
- An Advance Care Statement is less specific and will allow a person to express their views, wishes and beliefs as the basis on which they want decisions to be made for them..
Make a written statement of your wishes other than in an Advance Personal Plan
- This may be a general statement of your values, wishes and preferences. It may also include directions about whether you would, or would not, consent to specific treatments in particular circumstances.
- This type of document is often referred to as a ‘common law directive’ because it potentially has a legal basis in common law (law decided by courts rather than legislation).
- A common law directive written by you needs to be used to guide any persons who have to make decisions on your behalf.
- There are different opinions about the degree to which common law directives are legally binding, and there have been no court findings in the Northern Territory to give clear guidance on this.
- If you choose to make a common law directive, it is strongly recommended that you use one of the forms developed for this purpose and that you have the form witnessed. This will increase the likelihood that your directive will be accepted and acted on if the need arises.
Whatever type of documents you make, it is vital to give copies to people who may have to make decisions for you in the future and to make sure they understand how you want them to use these documents.
It is important also to remember that the Advance Personal Planning documents or common law directives only come into play at the time that you lose the capacity to express your wishes for yourself. This could be as a result of losing consciousness, or being declared as having lost capacity for some other reason.
Links to local resources
To view information from the NT Government website about Advance Personal Planning, download a copy of the Advance Personal Plan form and get information about witnessing and registering a completed form, click here
Council on the Ageing (Northern Territory) Inc (COTA NT) is available on (08) 8941 1004 to discuss the application of the Advance Personal Planning Act or to refer you to appropriate Government support services.