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Planning Ahead: Understanding SA's New Advance Care Directive Laws

In a significant move, the Malinauskas Labor Government has recently passed reforms to strengthen the laws surrounding Advance Care Directives in South Australia. These directives play a crucial role in allowing individuals to make informed decisions about their future healthcare and personal matters. This blog post delves into the key changes brought by these reforms and what they mean for South Australians.

Key Changes to Advance Care Directives

Advance Care Directives empower those aged 18 and over to provide clear legal directions regarding their future health care, end-of-life decisions, living arrangements, and other personal issues. They also allow the appointment of Substitute Decision-Makers. The recent amendments to the Advance Care Directives Act 2013, following Professor Wendy Lacey's review in 2019, include:

  • Digital Copies and Clinician Confidence: Clinicians can now rely more confidently on digital copies of these directives.

  • Interpreters for Non-English Speakers: Enhanced safeguards are in place for the use of interpreters, aiding those whose first language isn't English.

  • Appointing Substitute Decision-Makers: The requirements for appointing Substitute Decision-Makers have been made clearer.

  • Handling Suspected Suicide or Self-Harm: The directives' effects in these situations have been clarified, with additional safeguards to protect the community.

  • Dispute Resolution: The role of the Public Advocate and the SA Civil and Administrative Tribunal in resolving disputes has been strengthened.

  • Safeguards in Clinical Decision-Making: Specific safeguards have been established for clinical decisions in cases of apparent suicide or self-harm where an advance care directive is in place.

Implications and Future Developments

Regulations to enact these changes will be established in 2024, including the launch of a redesigned Advance Care Directive Kit. This kit, available free of charge at Service SA, selected libraries, and online, will include a Do-It-Yourself Guide and a redesigned Advance Care Directive Form. It's important to note that all existing Advance Care Directives will continue to be valid.

Understanding these reforms is crucial for effective estate planning and personal healthcare decisions. If you have questions about how these changes may affect your existing directives or if you are considering creating a new Advance Care Directive, our team is here to help. Contact us at KD & Co Lawyers to discuss your estate planning documents and ensure that your wishes are accurately and legally documented.

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