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Conference presented by the Victorian Office of the Public Advocate Victoria University, 300 Flinders Street, Melbourne 18 th October 2013 Presentation.

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Presentation on theme: "Conference presented by the Victorian Office of the Public Advocate Victoria University, 300 Flinders Street, Melbourne 18 th October 2013 Presentation."— Presentation transcript:

1 Conference presented by the Victorian Office of the Public Advocate Victoria University, 300 Flinders Street, Melbourne 18 th October 2013 Presentation Supported Decision Making from a Self-Advocacy Perspective By Christian Astourian Supported decision making: from theory to practice

2 In everyday life human beings have the opportunity to make a decision on something that will affect them and others. The following factors can influence decisions’ outcome that a person make: The decision being considered urgent or not, level of importance, The quality and amount of information available to make a decision, The level of confidence the person has in him/herself in making a decision generally, The level of confidence a person has in dealing with a specific decision, The past experiences and learning that someone has accumulated in life,

3 Someone may make better or worse decisions based on his/her health and personal situation at a certain time in life, The person being influenced by important people in their lives such as family, friends, support workers etc, Level of communication (eg. English as a second language) and verbal, non verbal communication. When it comes to people with a disability using self- advocacy services, the aim is to make sure that everyday life decisions are made in their best interest. First of all, people with a disability need to be aware that having the opportunity to choose and decide is a human right. This right is uphold by different legislations and conventions at State, Federal and International level. Therefore we have:

4 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2006, Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006, Victorian Disability Act 2006, Victorian Guardianship and Administration Act 1986, Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 1995, National Standards for Disability Services Quite often all the legislation above aimed at protecting the rights of people with a disability is not enough because people with a disability need to be in a position of confidence to implement those rights.

5 Confidence is not generally something that everyone is born with but it is something person can develop over the years based on his/her experiences in life and knowing his/herself better. For people with a disability it is even harder to develop this confidence because there are more barriers that need to be overcome. Barriers that society put on people with a disability where there can be an assumption that someone who requires more time to decide, someone who doesn’t speak clearly or is non verbal, someone who may require the information in a different format before making a decision, someone who look, move or behave differently is unable to decide for him/herself. Therefore there is an assumption that other people have somehow a better capacity to decide on behalf of the person with a disability or should influence that person with a disability in making a decision.

6 Sometimes, the people who have this assumption are actually the closest people in a person with a disability’s life such as family, support workers and friends who are supposed to be the ones that know better the person with a disability and will therefore provide him/her with an opportunity to speak up and decide for him/herself. People with a disability need to realise who they are. They are people who need to fight for things that many other people take for granted. It is paramount not to ever give up fighting because fighting should be part of everyday life to fulfil the goal of being treated like a human being who has rights.

7 Firstly, people with a disability need to be given the opportunity to express themselves and communicate with the aim of being heard. If needed, resources and technology should be provided to people who communicate non-verbally or have any other impairment that requires support to communicate more effectively. Secondly, some people with a disability may require information to be provided in different formats, eg. Easy English, to support them in the decision making process. Everyone in life, including people with a disability, need to be supported and encouraged from a young age to make decisions because it’s the best way to develop confidence and good self esteem. With decisions also comes responsibility. People with a disability should take that responsibility too and deal with positive and

8 negative consequences because it is a very important part of learning and growing up as a human being. Basically, people with a disability should have the right to make mistakes too and learn from them. We all know how sometimes Duty of Care, OHS and Dignity of Risk have a role to play when a person with a disability make a decision. It is very hard to know where the right balance is between the 3 points above but it is vital to make sure people with a disability get the opportunity to experience life as much as everyone else in society, with the right support if required. Generally speaking, self advocacy is there to support and encourage people with a disability to speak up for themselves and make decisions. People with a disability may also want support from other people in the decision making process. It is important they get the opportunity to choose who they want to support them. For example,

9 it could be a family member, support worker, friend or a complete stranger that has knowledge and experience in the issue that needs to be decided. It is very important that people with a disability are in control of their lives and their decision making process. Any support given should be discussed in consultation with the person who has a disability. In conclusion, supported decision making process is very important for those who require it and should always be used to enhance the basic human rights of freedom, respect, choice that many of us take for granted. People with a disability also need to make the most of their skills, knowledge and confidence by never being afraid to ask for support if needed. If the person with a disability feels s/he is not heard, then there is a complaint process and a fight for individual (and collective) rights worth pursuing. Keep in mind there is only one life and therefore there is the need to make the most of it.

10 Poem for conclusion To laugh often and much, To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, To appreciate beauty, To find the best in others, To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition, To know even one life has breathed easier Because you lived, This is to have succeeded. Ralph Waldo Emerson


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