Page 3711 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 26 August 2008

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Policing, and the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services. I thank members for their support of the bill.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Guardianship and Management of Property Amendment Bill 2008

Debate resumed from 7 August 2008, on motion by Mr Corbell:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (11.15): This bill inserts a new part 2A to provide for a scheme of health attorneys. A health attorney is a person who can give consent for medical treatment on behalf of a patient who has impaired decision-making ability to consent to their own medical treatment—in other words a protected person. An adult person who has decision-making capacity can take on the role of a health attorney if the patient has no appointed attorney or guardian. A health attorney can be a domestic partner, carer, a close relative or a close friend. This is in accord with community expectations that a person close to a patient who lacks capacity can be involved in the decisions affecting the patient.

A health professional, a doctor or dentist, may seek consent from a health attorney whom they believe is best able to represent the views of the patient, and both must follow the decision-making principles under the guardianship legislation. This includes a health professional providing the health attorney with sufficient information to enable an informed decision to be made about medical treatment. There are some rules around this. Where disputes arise, the health professional must refer the matter to the Public Advocate, who may try to assist in resolution of the dispute but otherwise may apply to the guardianship tribunal for guardianship. The health professional must also inform the Public Advocate when a health attorney’s consent to treatment continues for more than six months. There are provisions to protect health attorneys and health professionals acting in good faith from civil and criminal liability. Health professionals are otherwise subject to the usual liabilities of their profession.

The scheme is not intended to diminish a person’s right under the Human Rights Act to make their own decisions in relation to medical treatment. It is intended to augment the existing arrangements and make them simpler where an appropriate health attorney is available. Health attorneys will not be able to make decisions about certain prescribed treatments. They will be able to provide emergency medical treatment without consent, and the Attorney-General, in his tabling speech, indicated that consent to withdraw or withhold treatment is more complex. I think he indicated that that would be considered at a later date.

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