Significant changes to Enduring Powers of Attorney in the ACT came into effect on 1 September 2016. Whether you have an existing Enduring Power of Attorney or are thinking of making an Enduring Power of Attorney, the changes may have an impact on you.
When creating an Enduring Power of Attorney, a person is able to authorise their chosen attorneys to make decisions on their behalf in relation to:
- Property and financial matters;
- Personal care matters; and
- Health care matters.
From September 2016, Enduring Powers of Attorney can now authorise attorneys to make decisions in relation to medical research matters. This may involve ‘low-risk research’ and ‘medical research’ approved by a human research ethics committee. Prior to 1 September 2016, attorneys did not have this power in the ACT.
The policy objective behind the amendments is to enable people with impaired decision-making to receive potentially beneficial treatment that was not otherwise available to them and to assist health researchers to develop innovative treatments.
‘Low-risk research’ includes any nonintrusive examinations of a person for research purposes and ‘medical research’ includes receiving treatment under a clinical trial.
There are a number of safeguards and strict processes in the legislation to ensure decisions about participation in medical research adhere to particular standards and to avoid potential abuse by attorneys. If there is any doubt about an attorney’s decision in relation to medical research matters, the law allows an ‘interested person’ (eg. a relative) to apply to the ACAT for a review of the attorney’s decision.
If you have made an Enduring Power of Attorney prior to 1 September 2016 authorising your attorneys to act on your behalf in relation to health care matters – that power extends to decisions in relation to medical research matters. You do not need to update your existing Enduring Power of Attorney unless you would like to specifically exclude an attorney from consenting to your participation in low-risk research or medical research or if you wish to include particular conditions or limitations on their power to do so.
DDCS Lawyers can provide advice about existing Enduring Powers of Attorney or help you prepare an Enduring Power of Attorney which specifies your wishes in relation to decisions about medical research matters. Please contact DDCS Lawyers on (02) 6212 7600 or [email protected].