Advanced Care Directives – Melbourne Law School


An advance care directive allows a person to document their preferences for future medical treatment, if they lose decision-making capacity. They can specify the medical treatments they consent to and refuse and can record general statements about their values and preferences to guide future medical decisions.

What are the ethical and legal issues that arise in this area? What happens if life-sustaining treatment is available which has been refused in an advance decision? What should a medical practitioner do in an emergency? Can a teenager make an advance care directive?

Come along to workshop run by the Health Law and Ethics Network, University of Melbourne, to find out more about these issues and to take part in discussion of a hypothetical.


Dr Carolyn Johnston

Dr Carolyn Johnston is Senior Lecturer and a member of the research team focussing on Health Law and Emerging Technologies (HeLEX) at Melbourne Law School. She is deputy director of the MLS Health Law & Ethics Network. Before joining Melbourne Law School, Carolyn was Adviser, Medical Law & Ethics at King’s College London School of Medicine. In her role with the Institute of Medical Ethics she was involved with the revision of the core curriculum for medical ethics and law in UK medical schools. Carolyn has a particular interest in the role of clinical ethics committees to assist ethical decision making in health care. She is currently leading a pilot study looking at legal, ethical and regulatory issues arising from use of DIY technologies in managing Type 1 Diabetes in children. She is co-author of the book 100 Cases in Clinical Ethics and Law and has published on end of life issues with a focus on advance care decisions. Recently she has provided academic commentary to the media on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 (Vic).

Associate Professor Michelle Taylor-Sands 

Michelle Taylor-Sands is an Associate Professor at Melbourne Law School and a legal member of the Victorian Mental Health Tribunal She has also been a policy advisor for the Victorian Government on assisted reproductive treatment legislation. Prior to becoming an academic, Michelle was a senior lawyer with the Australian Government Solicitor, where she worked for nine years as a litigation specialist in government law and regulation. She is author of the book, Saviour Siblings: A Relational Approach to the Welfare of the Child in Selective Reproduction and has published articles in Australian and international legal, medical and ethical journals on health law and civil justice. Her current research interests include bioethics, selective reproduction and the welfare of the child to be born. She is currently a member of the Advisory Panel to the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority.

Ms Paula O’Brien

Paula O’Brien is a Senior Lecturer and Co-Director of the Health and Medical Law Masters at Melbourne Law School. She co-coordinates a monthly health law seminar series at the Law School. She has a BA/LLB (Hons) from The University of Melbourne and an LLM from the University of Cambridge, specialising in international law. Paula researches in the area of health law and public interest law. Her primary research interest relates to the regulation of harmful commodities, in particular alcohol. She has written on many aspects of the domestic and international regulation of alcohol, including its labelling, advertising, pricing, licensing and trade as a global commodity. Her current doctoral work is on the self-regulation of the labelling and marketing of alcohol. Paula also writes about the right to health, and has published papers on accountability in health care for asylum seekers in detention, the phenomenon of privatisation, the global shortage of health workers, and access to health care for migrant workers and their families in Australia. Paula uses her research to make submissions and provide advice to government and non-government bodies about public health law.