Child’s Best Interests and Medical Treatment

Parents are often required to make decisions regarding medical treatment on their child’s behalf.

The parent’s wishes may not always be the final word in making the decision to provide treatment.

Parents may be considered to be in the best position to decide what is in their child’s best interests as they are the most likely to know the effect something will have on them.

In some circumstances, however, the court may have the power to intervene and rule against the parents’ wishes.

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In Director Clinical Services, Child & Adolescent Health Services and Kiszko & Anor [2016] FCWA 19, the child had cancer and doctors recommended chemotherapy treatment.

The parents thought it would be in the child’s best interests to treat him using alternative therapies focusing on nutrition.

The Court and an Ethics Committee considered that following the parents’ wishes would not be in the child’s best interests and ordered chemotherapy.

In the case of Minister for Health vs AS (2004) 29 WAR 517, Justice Pullin said:

“The question is not whether to respect the parent’s wishes. The role of the court is to exercise an independent and objective judgment and balance the advantage or disadvantage of the medical step under consideration. While the parents’ wishes may be relevant, they are not determinative.”

He then went on to say that:

“Where…the child will die if lifesaving treatment is not performed, which has a good prospect of a long-term cure, it is beyond doubt that it is in the child’s best interests to receive that treatment”.

Children’s matters can be complex. We, therefore, recommend you seek legal advice from our very experienced Perth family lawyer. We invite you to discuss your particular matter with our Legal Practitioner Director, Ms Shannon Bodeker, who has been working in family law for over 20 years.

Prior to your first appointment, you may send us an email or similar, outlining your situation. This information will be read on a complimentary basis prior to your first family law appointment. We get to know you and your family law matter before we meet.

Please note this is not family law advice. It is important to seek advice specific to your circumstances. We are a long-established and boutique Perth family law firm and can provide you with the very best legal advice regarding children’s family law matters.

Read up on Perth family lawyer’s or email our Legal Practitioner Director, Shannon Bodeker at for your complimentary pre-read and first appointment at a reduced rate.

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