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My Life, My Voice - TASC

An online self-advocacy educational guide

Overview of Self-Advocacy

Subtitles available for the English version in Traditional Chinese, Dinka, Swahili, Arabic, Pashto and Dari by clicking the 'CC' button on the video.

What is Self-Advocacy?

Self-advocacy is speaking up for yourself about what you need in order to help create positive change in your life.

What makes an effective Self-Advocate?

Ask yourself:

What are my Human Rights?

To know what you can self-advocate for a good starting off point is understanding your Human Rights. These are a set of guidelines detailing the rights and freedoms of all human beings. The most relevant to common self-advocacy scenarios are listed below:

If you’d like to know more about your Human Rights they can be found at: Universal Declaration of Human Rights | United Nations

Am I in a position to Self-Advocate?

It’s important to acknowledge that if you aren’t an Australian citizen or permanent resident you may not be in a position to successfully self-advocate due to limitations around what is accessible to you. If you are uncertain about whether you have self-advocacy options available to you there are some great service options to have a conversation with:

7 Steps of Self-Advocacy

Connect with self-belief and personal support

It's important to start any self-advocacy journey by reminding yourself that you are a valuable person who deserves the positive outcomes that speaking up for yourself can lead to. If you are struggling to find confidence and self-belief, try identifying someone in your life who you trust to support you in your self-advocacy journey. Really think through who you allow that person to be. Do you feel that they want what is best for you? Do they respect your views? Do they have the skills to help you with your self-advocating, such as organizing, researching, problem solving and communicating?

Identify your needs and wants

Develop a clear understanding for yourself about what isn't ok for you, what your needs are and how you would like things to be different. It can be helpful to get specific with ideas about potential solutions. Even if these don't end up being possible, it can be a good starting off point to coming up with different ideas that may also be helpful;

Research your advocacy pathway

Ensure you have accurate information about the right process to raise your concerns, where and how to do this, and who is the best person to do this with. Different organizations often have different processes to raise concerns so it's important not to make any assumptions and clarify this information;

Clarify your rights

It's important to find out whether what you are hoping for is in line with your rights. If this is challenging to do alone, perhaps ask your support person to help you with this. Researching your basic human rights is a good starting off point, then if your issue is issue is to do with a certain organization or system they might have some information on their website about your rights as someone accessing their service.

Make a plan

Take the time to plan what you would like to say and how you would like to say it. Make notes so you don't forget. There are numerous options for communicating such as by letter, email, phone call or face to face. Think about who it is that you are going to communicating with, and what might be the best way to do that. It's so important to also consider your own strengths in communicating and be guided by those. For example if you get very nervous having to speak to someone you don't know, email or letter might make more sense for you.

Communicate clearly and respectfully

Even if the issue is very challenging and emotional it is important to communicate clearly and calmly. This will help create feelings of respect and teamwork with the person you are communicating with and likely lead to a better outcome. If you are concerned you will struggle with this it can be helpful to practice the interaction with your support person, or if it is a letter or email have them read over it before you send it. You could also ask your support person if they would be happy to be present in the in the interaction with you if it is happening by phone or face to face.

Document and follow up

Take notes during your conversation, or ask your support person to do this for you if it would help you concentrate on what you need to say. It is important to have notes to refer back to in order to be able to effectively follow up and ensure things happen as they were agreed to. In taking notes it is important to get particular details such as: who you spoke with, on what date, what you discussed, what was agreed upon moving forward, and who is responsible for what and by when. All of these details are very important to ensure accountability from everyone involved in helping to make positive changes for you moving forward.

It's important to acknowledge that different life situations will always have different self-advocacy pathways, however these steps can be applied to any self-advocacy circumstance and help the process be as successful as possible.

Hevi's Story

Hevi is a woman in her mid-30’s living with her young daughter in a small town. A few years ago she was involved in a car accident which left her in a wheelchair. This led to some very difficult years for Hevi and her daughter, having to adjust to some big changes in their lives. With the help of her health professionals, Hevi made a successful application to the NDIS.

For the last two years she has received financial assistance to pay for the support and therapeutic services she needs. Unfortunately in the last few months Hevi has noticed the service she employs to provide her with support work each day is not as good as it used to be. She is getting a different support worker every few days, they are often late, and her attempts to speak to someone about her concern hasn’t improved the situation.

Self-Advocacy Resources

Contact us

TASC National services the geographical areas highlighted in orange (see map below) with advocates located in offices in Toowoomba, Ipswich, Gympie, Bundaberg, Hervey Bay and the Cherbourg region.

For additional support about Self-Advocacy or to find out more about our Advocacy service, please contact our head office:

Disclaimer

The information provided on this website is of a general nature about advocacy (self, facilitated or systems) or legal matters and is for guidance only and should not be construed as advice, legal or otherwise.  Whilst TASC has made every attempt to ensure this information is obtained from reliable sources, TASC is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for results obtained from the use of this information.  The information on this website site is provided ‘as is’ with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy or timeliness and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, as to fitness for a particular purpose.  Before making any decision or taking any action about self-advocacy or your legal matter you should seek advice from a professional.

Although TASC takes all reasonable precautions to ensure its website and computer systems are virus free, TASC does not make any guarantee that it’s website or computer systems are virus free.  TASC is not responsible or liable for any damage caused by the installation of viruses or other malware on your computer, software equipment or other property due to you accessing our website or any use of the website.  Users access and use of TASC’s website is at your own risk.

Acknowledgement of Country

In the spirit of reconciliation TASC Legal and Social Justice Service acknowledges the Traditional Custodians whose song lines traverse this country and who have a continuing strong connection to land, sea and community.  We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and emerging.  We acknowledge that the strong voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have long been silenced and that hearing, respecting and responding to these voices is an important part of the ongoing connection and healing that will continue the path to reconciliation.

Hevi's Story

Hevi is a woman in her mid-30’s living with her young daughter in a small town. A few years ago she was involved in a car accident which left her in a wheelchair. This led to some very difficult years for Hevi and her daughter, having to adjust to some big changes in their lives. With the help of her health professionals, Hevi made a successful application to the NDIS.

For the last two years she has received financial assistance to pay for the support and therapeutic services she needs. Unfortunately in the last few months Hevi has noticed the service she employs to provide her with support work each day is not as good as it used to be. She is getting a different support worker every few days, they are often late, and her attempts to speak to someone about her concern hasn’t improved the situation.

Self-Advocacy Steps

Connect with self-belief and personal support

After initially feeling helpless and upset about the situation, Hevi reminds herself why she applied for an NDIS package. It was to help make her life easier not harder, so if things aren't going well she should speak up. Hevi also discusses the situation with her neighbour, with whom she is good friends and who has helped her find out how to navigate challenging situations in the past. Her friend encourages her to take her concerns further and not just ignore her feelings of upset and stress.

Identify your needs and wants

Hevi identifies the need to speak with the person who manages the support workers, not the receptionist who hasn't been helpful when she has tried to raise her concerns before.

Research advocacy pathway

With the help of her neighbour, Hevi finds information on the service's website about who the manager is, including his contact details.

Clarify your rights

Hevi and her neighbour also take the time to read through some information on the NDIS website together, which helps Hevi to feel more confident of her rights when she is accessing a service.

Make a plan

Together in conversation with her friend, Hevi decides to write an email to the manager. She still finds it challenging to have conversations confidently in English, so she knows that an email she has prepared in advance will be easier. It will also mean she has a record of her interaction with the manager.

Communicate clearly and calmly

Hevi then writes a brief email to the manager of the service, outlining her concerns, her attempts to address the situation already, and the outcome she is hoping for.

Document and follow up

Hevi chooses to only communicate by email so that everything is fully documented and she can put a lot of thought into what she says and how she says it. With English being her second language, Hevi feels more confident with her neighbour helping her, and by going over what she has written making sure it is right.

Outcome

Hevi receives an email response from the manager of the service apologising for the issues she has been having. He acknowledges that they have had a lot of illness in the support worker team lately which has made it hard to provide a consistent service. He shares that they have employed additional support workers to address this and that he is working with the team around issues: as worker consistency and arriving on time to ensure that clients are not being negatively impacted. The manager asks Hevi to be in touch with him again if she doesn’t see an improvement in the service she is receiving within two weeks.

If this story resonates for you and has inspired you to start your own self-advocacy journey please see our Self-Advocacy Resources and Contact Details page to help you get started.