There are many places and situations where you may want to exert self-advocacy. You may want to self-advocate when speaking with doctors and health care professionals, in hospitals, at schools, with government bodies, and in the community.
Some people can find self-advocacy intimidating, as it means standing up for yourself with others. However, self-advocacy is important to ensure that your needs, goals and aspirations are being heard.
If you are unsure about how to self-advocate and prepare for situations where you want your needs met, the following tips may be helpful:
- Be an active participant in the process, to the best of your ability
- Get enough information to make informed choices
- Have some ideas about what you would like to get out of the process, or what you would like the healthcare professionals to help with
- Clearly express what your needs are
- Set realistic goals for what you hope to achieve
- If necessary, have an advocate, family member, or friend at meetings
- If your request is not responded to in a timely manner, ask to speak to a more senior person
- Consider writing a letter or email, containing any concerns you have, if you feel that you are not being listened to during meetings
- Keep a folder of all materials, plans, and correspondence so that you can refer to these in the future
- Take notes when you attend meetings and document all phone calls
- Ensure that any agreed upon plan is put in writing.
In addition to self-advocating there are a number of Ombudsmen and Complaint Resolution Bodies in Australia that can respond to issues related to human rights (your dignity and value), services and disability issues. In addition to the ones listed below, Ombudsmen operate in all states and territories and can respond to issues regarding services and disability issues.
Australian Human Rights Commission
There are a number of peak human rights and disability organisations that advise or advocate on behalf of people with disability in Australia.
People with Disability Australia
Children with Disability Australia
National Ethnic Disability Alliance
First People Disability Alliance