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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Discussion Starter

What would happen if you were very sick?

If you become so sick that you couldn’t talk, your family and health worker may need to make decisions for you. Talking about how this would make you feel and what you want in advance will make their decisions easier and less stressful.

Thinking about you and your family

Think about what is and isn’t important to you and your family. How can you help your family make decisions? Talking now can help your family in the future. It is never too early to plan ahead.

The Discussion Starter will guide you through that discussion. It will help you prepare, so that you know what you want to say and it will provide you with tips about how to start talking.

You may also want to look at the Discussion Cards to help you identify what is important to you.

Thinking about your health care

Think about where you want to be cared for and who you want to care for you. What care would you want? Is there anything you wouldn’t want?

Thinking about these question can help you think about what matters most to you.

Open up your Discussion Starter. It can be downloaded at the bottom of this page. The questions are there to help you reflect about who you are and what is important to you.

Preparing to talk

Who do you want to talk to? Who would you prefer to make decisions for you? What do you want to share?

You can talk to as many people as you like. Think about the people who you want to make decisions for you.

If you don’t feel like you have anyone to talk to, you can talk to your health care worker. You can also write down your preferences so that people will know what kind of care you want.

Reviewing your talk

You did it!

If you have reached this page you have probably had your first discussion with your family about care at the end of your life.

How did your talk go? Did you share what you wanted to? What else do you need to do?

Every conversation gets easier, so talk regularly. You can change your mind about what you would want at any time. If you do, let your family and health worker know.

What’s next?

How do you make sure your wishes are known? What can you prepare? As well as talking to your family, there are other activities you can do to plan ahead. You don’t need to do them all. Think about what planning is right for you.

Learn more about palliative care

Palliative care identifies and treats symptoms which may be physical, emotional, spiritual or social. Palliative care is for people of all ages who have a serious illness that cannot be cured and provides support and care that focuses on your quality of life and living well. Palliative care is based on your individual needs and may include:

  • pain and symptom management
  • emotional, social, spiritual and cultural concerns
  • the supply of equipment and other aids
  • links to other services, such as respite care, home care and financial support
  • counselling and grief support
  • assistance for carers and families.

Palliative care can be provided at home, in hospital, in a hospice or in residential aged care. You might like to consider where you would like to be cared for, and what that care might look like.

Talk to your health worker, or visit What is Palliative Care to find out more.

Document  your wishes in an Advance  Care Plan

Writing down your wishes can help your family and health worker make sure you receive the care you want. You want to be sure that your family know what you want and don’t want if they ever need to make decisions for you.

An Advance Care Plan (ACP) or an Advance Care Directive (ACD) outlines your wishes. You can discuss these with your health worker and write a plan. You can then upload your ACP or ACD to your ‘My Health Record’ to make sure it’s available when it’s needed.

Talk to your health worker or visit My Health Record to find out more.

Identify your decision maker

It is important to identify your decision maker, especially if your chosen person is not your legally recognised next-of-kin. You want to be sure that your family and health worker can legally identify someone as your decision maker.

Talk to your health worker, or visit Advace Care Planning to find out more.

Organise your Legal Will

A Will is a legal document that communicates what you want to happen to your assets as well as items of cultural and sentimental value, your children and pets when you die. If you don’t have a Will, or you haven’t reviewed it recently, speak to your health worker or solicitor.

Visit Money Smart to find out more.

Organise your Emotional Will

Although not a legal document, an Emotional Will provides a way for you to share your thoughts, values, hopes and dreams with your family and future generations to come.

You can share as much or as little as you want. An Emotional Will can be a supportive tool for your family, as it can protect them culturally and emotionally. You might like to include your funeral plans, where and how you want to be buried, and what you hope for your family’s future.

Register  as an organ and tissue donor

People who need an organ or tissue transplant are usually sick because an organ is failing. As an organ donor, you can save the lives of up to 8 people.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders on the transplant waiting list get less transplants than others due to other cultural groups not matching well. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are more likely to be a match for each other.

If you want to be an organ and tissue donor, you should register and let your family know.

Visit Donate Life to register and find out more.

Plan your social media

If you use social media, have you thought about what you want to happen to your accounts when you die? It is important to share your wishes about social media with your family as each platform has its own rules about what your family can do with your accounts.

Visit to find out more.

Plan your funeral

If you can plan your funeral, it might reduce arguments and stress at a time that will be difficult for your family. You may even want to pre-pay for your funeral, or keep a savings account to cover costs.

You might talk to your family about where you want your funeral to be, who you want to be there and the speakers and music. You might also talk about what you don’t want.

Let a trusted  person know where they can find things

Let a trusted person know where to find your important documents in case they need them. They may be stored in a physical location, on a computer, online or with your solicitor.

Download the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Discussion Starter 


View the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Discussion Cards


See Connie's Story

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Discussion Starter

Supporting you to reflect on your values and your preferences for end-of-life care.

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