Shaping end of life law, policy and practice

Shaping end of life law, policy and practice

Professor Ben White and Professor Lindy Willmott’s doctrinal and empirical research on the law regarding end-of-life decision-making has influenced law reform, policy and practice across Australia and internationally.


Influencing law reform and informing judicial decision-making

In 2010 the Queensland Law Reform Commission’s Review of Queensland’s guardianship laws drew extensively on White and Willmott’s research in formulating reform recommendations to address problems and inconsistencies in end-of-life law in Queensland. Their research has also influenced law reform in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and at federal level.

White and Willmott’s research has changed the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal’s approach to making end-of-life decisions and it has also been cited by the High, Family and State Supreme Courts and the State Coroner.

Informing health policy and medical practice

The research has informed the development of strategic policy documents including consensus statements on safe, high-quality end-of-life care and national practice frameworks regarding advance directives. It has also informed development of position statements of medical defence insurers, clinical guidelines of peak medical professional bodies and end-of-life policy and strategy documents in a number of Australian States.

Improving clinical education

The research has been used by Australian hospitals, medical professional bodies and health government departments, including the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and the Australian Medical Association Victoria. It has also been used in online advance care planning resources for doctors and to develop policy and education initiatives which address doctors’ knowledge of and compliance with the end-of-life law.

The website End of Life Law in Australia was developed by White, Willmott and their colleague Neller to address gaps in legal knowledge identified by this research and is widely used by the medical profession and medical educators.

Research Projects

Australian Research Council Linkage Projects

Other externally funded research projects