Be Your Own Advocate
Not everybody who has an issue needs ADACAS to help them achieve their goals. The process of speaking up for yourself and making sure people respect your decisions is called self-advocacy. Self-advocates ensure that they have a say in decisions that affect them. They ask questions when they don’t understand instructions, processes or decisions made by other people about their lives. They know that they have the right to be included in all areas of their life. They know that they have the right to make choices and to make sure that others respect their choices.
Self-advocates need to identify what their issue is. If you would like to try advocating on your own behalf start by writing down exactly what your issue is. Write down why it upsets you, and how this may affect other areas of your life. Work out who has the power to change this. Is it you? Is it a service provider? Is it the police?
Once you know who has the power to change it, the next step is to convince the relevant person to change it. You may choose to make a phone call, write a letter, or talk to people face-to-face. You could also ask a friend or family member to accompany you, stand beside you and make you feel more comfortable as you discuss your issue.
If you are planning to have a face-to-face meeting about your issue, then you may want to write down on a list of paper important points to remember, which may include:
- Any dates or times you need to remember;
- Any issues that you want to discuss;
- Names and phone numbers of other people involved; and
- Any medical or financial information that is relevant to the issue.
Don’t feel like you have to disclose your private information with every person with whom you may come in contact. If there is any information you want to give about your life (for example, medical information, bank details etc.) remember that you have the right to privacy. Never let anybody force you to make a decision you don’t want to make. If somebody is threatening you, let somebody else whom you trust know immediately. You are able to stand up for yourself and make your own decisions.
Tips for self-advocacy
- Be willing to speak up for yourself;
- If people aren’t listening, tell them that you have the right to be listened to;
- If you are nervous about talking to people, take a friend or family member with you;
- If you are writing a letter, you may want to get a friend of family member to read over it;
- If you are upset with a service provider, or a Government department, ask if there is a way you can make a complaint;
- If you feel threatened or are in danger, call 000 and ask for the police to help;
- Make a list of different ways to solve your problems;
- Take responsibility for making changes in your own life;
- Know that it is acceptable to make mistakes;
- People who care for you such as family members, relatives and friends may also make good advocates for you and support you in getting the outcome you want; and
- If you are having trouble making decisions, ask for somebody to explain the options to you. They may have new ideas that you didn’t know about, and may be able to support you to make decisions about your own life .
You deserve to be heard. For further information regarding Self Advocacy please refer to the Self Advocacy Resource Unit at http://www.saru.net.au/