Tough but not taboo

This week, thousands of Australians will have started conversations they might otherwise have preferred to avoid – about what will happen at the end of their lives.

It’s all about planning for a time when they may be unable to make their own medical decisions. An unpalatable topic for some, but a necessary one.

More than 150 community groups, local councils, healthcare organisations, church congregations and even book clubs are embracing end-of-life conversations and taking part in National Advance Care Planning Week (April 1-5).

Funded by the Australian government, National Advance Care Planning Week is an initiative encouraging fit and healthy Australians to talk about the care they would want if they were unable to speak for themselves because of a sudden medical crisis, progressive illness such as cancer or dementia, or old age.

The initiative is supported by ambassadors who include medical experts, media professionals and peak body leaders, such as:

  • Dr Chris Moy, GP and Chair of the AMA Ethics and Medico-Legal Committee.
  • Dr Ranjana Srivastava, oncologist and columnist for <itals>The Guardian<itals>.
  • Rohan Greenland, CEO of Palliative Care Australia.

The initiative is run by Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA), promoted as the national authority on advance care planning.

About 50 per cent of Australians will be unable to make their own end-of-life medical treatment decisions, but only 15 per cent have an advance care directive, the ACPA says.

“We constantly hear about healthy ageing in the media, but too much of it is focused on the present,” Dr Moy said. “An important part of healthy ageing is making informed choices about your care and planning ahead. Advance care planning can provide clarity and certainty, rather than leaving it to others to decide for you.”

Medical Director of Advance Care Planning Australia Dr Karen Detering added: “I urge you to find out more and get involved in National Advance Care Planning Week.”

Learn more at


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