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.
Who will the doctor ask to give consent for my medical treatment if I am not able to give my own consent?
- If a person is not able to give their own consent for non-emergency medical or dental treatment, the Guardianship and Administration Act 1986 provides direction about who can give consent and this person is referred to as the Person Responsible.
- The legislation describes a hierarchy of persons that doctors should approach in turn to provide consent on behalf of another person. This hierarchy is:
- an agent appointed by the patient under Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment)
- a person appointed by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to make decisions about the proposed treatment
- a guardian appointed by VCAT to make decisions about medical/dental treatment
- a person appointed by the patient on or after 1 September 2015 as an attorney for personal matters under an Enduring Power of Attorney or a person appointed by the patient before 1 September 2015 as an enduring guardian with health care powers under an Enduring Power of Guardianship.
- a person appointed by the patient, in writing, to make decisions about medical/dental treatment including the proposed treatment
- the patient’s spouse or domestic partner
- the patient's primary carer, including carers in receipt of a Centrelink Carer’s payment but excluding paid carers or service providers
- the patient’s nearest relative over the age of 18 years, in the following order listed:
- son or daughter
- father or mother
- brother or sister (including adopted and half siblings)
- grandfather or grandmother
- grandson or granddaughter
- uncle or aunt
- nephew or niece.
- Note: Where there are two relatives in the same position (for example, a brother and sister) the elder person is the Person Responsible, regardless of gender.
Link to local resource
To view information about when a patient cannot consent to treatment on the Office of the Public Advocate website, click here.