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What are my rights if I can’t make healthcare choices?

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Video: What is consent, are what are my rights about consent?

In healthcare, consent means saying yes to a treatment or medical test. Sometimes a doctor, court or tribunal decides that a person is not able to make healthcare choices. They say this person is not ‘competent’. For example, the person might have an intellectual disability which affects their ability to make decisions.

If you are not able to make healthcare choices and give consent, then the law lets somebody else do it for you. For many young people, a family member like a parent is allowed to do this. For some young people, the law gives this responsibility to somebody else. That person might be chosen by the young person, or by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Even if a doctor, court or tribunal decides you are not competent, you still have rights in healthcare. These rights include:

  • Having your condition and care explained to you in a way you can understand (if possible).
  • Getting treatment and services that are as good as those given to people without a disability.
  • Only getting healthcare when somebody has said who has the legal right to say yes for you.
  • The right to not have some medical things done to you without a court or tribunal saying it is OK.

Healthcare people, and people who make medical choices for you should do their best to listen to you. The law doesn’t make them do what you ask, but you should feel free to have a say.

If you are concerned about the medical choices being made about you, you can contact the Office of the Public Advocate or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. An advocate can help you do this.

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