Thousands of tough talks kick off across Australia this week

While it may be an unpalatable topic of conversation for some, more than 150 community groups, local councils, health care organisations, church congregations and even book clubs are embracing end-of-life conversations and taking part in National Advance Care Planning Week.

Funded by the Australian Government, National Advance Care Planning Week encourages 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 The Guardian
  • Rohan Greenland, CEO of Palliative Care Australia.

It is run by Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA), the national authority on advance care planning.

Around 50% of people will be unable to make their own end-of-life medical treatment decisions, yet only 15% of Australians have an Advance Care Directive.

Medical Director of Advance Care Planning Australia Dr Karen Detering said while advance care planning involved end-of-life conversations, essentially it was a personal statement about how people wanted to live.

“So, if living well to the end and on your own terms matters to you, I urge you to find out more and get involved in National Advance Care Planning Week,” Dr Detering said.

Key facts

  • Almost 50% of people will not be able to make their own end-of-life medical decisions.
  • 30% of people aged 65+ have an ACD.
  • A third of Australians will die before the age of 75.
  • Most people die after a chronic illness, not a sudden event.

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