Get it in Black and White Campaign aims to Help People Plan Ahead

By Petrina Smith
Tuesday, 11 March, 2014

Doctor with patientGet it in Black and White, an Australian-first campaign, is encouraging Australians to find out what medical or health treatment their parent would or would not want.
“What can we do about mum?”  is a question many GPs and practice nurses hear daily, and one that increasing numbers of Australians are facing with our ageing population and rapidly increasing rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
More than 85 per cent of Australians[1] expect to have to care for the health needs of ageing parents and yet around 64 per cent have not spoken about the medical or health treatments they would (or would not) want.
 Get it in black & white, developed by NSW Government, is encouraging all adult Australians – whether they are 18 or 80 - to plan ahead and get their wishes down in legal documents, by preparing a Will, making a Power of Attorney or appointing an Enduring Guardian while they still have the capacity to do so.
Medical professionals are being asked to help by simply being aware that there are resources available for people whatever their stage of life and point them in the right direction to access it at the Planning Ahead Tools website
Developed by a team of stakeholders including Office for Ageing, NSW Trustee & Guardian, Public Guardian and NSW Ministry of Health, the website includes practical and easy to understand information on each of these legal documents – why people need them, and what they cover – as well as how to make a Will or appoint a Power of Attorney or Enduring Guardian.  A fact sheet is available in 14 languages, as well as one written specifically for Aboriginal people. There are also easy to understand videos explaining each of the tools.
According to Imelda Dodds, CEO NSW Trustee & Guardian, medical professionals are at the frontline, hearing stories of concern from children of ageing parents or indeed the older people themselves.
“It is important that patients understand they need to make sure they get their wishes down in black and white before it is too late and while they still have the capacity to do so. “Equally important is encouraging children to have the conversation with their parents.  "If you leave it until it is too late, loved ones may be left guessing their parents’ financial, health, and lifestyle needs. "This will mean they will have to go through time-consuming application processes at a tribunal to obtain permission to manage your affairs,” she said.
Recent research carried out by NSW Trustee & Guardian showed only five per cent of Australian adults have a clear understanding of the documents that relate to pre-planning – a Will, Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship.[2]
“We like to believe things only happen to other people and that somehow we’re invincible, but the truth is we are not and we should all prepare for the future,” said Imelda. “Planning for later life is like having an insurance policy in place – except it covers your health, lifestyle and financial requirements, and ensures your loved ones are looked after when you are no longer around.”
She cautioned the time to do the planning is now. “To prepare legal documents, such as a Power of Attorney, an Enduring Guardian or a Will, you need to have the legal capacity,” she added.
Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals can access promotional material including posters, leaflets, fact sheets and other material from NSW Trustee & Guardian by contacting them on 02 9240 0762 or

[1]Lonergan Research, Planning for Later Life Report - study conducted conducted among 1,016 Australians aged 18 years or older, September 2013.


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