• What is self-advocacy?
• Why is self-advocacy important?
• When is self-advocacy useful?
• Where is self-advocacy useful?
• Who can use self-advocacy?
• How do you self-advocate?

Read a small story about Maryam and how she learnt about self-advocacy.

Maryam went to see her LAC because she had been fighting with her parents about money. Maryam received the Disability Support Pension every fortnight but she couldn’t spend any of the money because her parents were the only ones with access to her bank account. Maryam’s parents decided what Maryam should spend her money on and wouldn’t listen to what Maryam had to say. Maryam didn’t want to fight with her parents but she wanted them to listen to her and let her make some decisions for herself.
The LAC, Angela, told Maryam about self-advocacy and said it was a good way to learn to speak-up for yourself, get people to listen and make decisions for yourself. Angela told Maryam that just telling somebody about your problem wasn’t self-advocacy but it was a good start. Good self-advocacy was about speaking-up about your thoughts and feelings, asking for what you wanted, working towards solutions and making decisions for yourself. Maryam asked if Angela would teach her to self-advocate and Angela said she would.

What is Self-Advocacy?

Self-advocacy is the ability to speak-up for yourself and the things that are important to you. Self-advocacy means you are able to ask for what you need and want and tell people about your thoughts and feelings. Self-advocacy means you know your rights and responsibilities, you speak-up for your rights, and you are able to make choices and decisions that affect your life. The goal of self-advocacy is for YOU to decide what you want then develop and carry out a plan to help you get it. It does not mean you can’t get help if you need or want it, it just means that you are making the choices and you have to be responsible for the choices you make.

Why is Self-Advocacy important?

It is important to learn self-advocacy skills because it helps you decide what you want and what is possible for you to expect. When you have good self-advocacy skills you can have more control and make the life decisions that are best for you. Self-advocacy helps to empower you, to speak-up for yourself and make decisions about your life.

When is Self-Advocacy useful?

• When you want to be listened to
• When you are being assessed
• When you are making a complaint
• When you are developing or reviewing a care plan

Where can you Self-Advocate?

There are many places that you might want to speak-up for yourself or ask for what you want such as:

• At home
• At work
• At school
• At the hospital
• At the doctor
• At the shops
• On the bus

And many more places. If you are not happy with the way something is done then it is up to you to help change it. Nobody else knows how you feel or what you think- YOU need to tell people if you are not happy or you want something to change.

Who is a Self-Advocate?

• Someone who says what they think and feel
• Someone who speaks-up for things they believe in
• Someone who knows and understands their rights and responsibilities
• Someone who takes responsibility for their own life
• Someone who makes decisions that affect their life
• Someone who helps to improve their life
• Someone who tries to change the way things are done

How do you Self-Advocate?

• You need to decide what you want to speak-up about
• You need to plan how you are going to speak-up
• You need to speak-up for yourself
• You need the freedom to be able to make basic choices about your life.
• You need to be given the authority to be the expert on your life; you are the one who has to live your life so you should be able to make decisions which affect you.
• You need to have support to make and achieve your goals, the final decision should be yours but it is good to have other people to help you.
• You need to be responsible for your decisions. You need to try to make the best choices and fix those that did not work.
• You need to believe you are able to do the things in your life that are not working and work towards the things that are important to you.


Where you can go for more information about Self-Advocacy:

• Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association

• Disability & Aged Information Services Inc: Advocacy fact sheet

• Disability Action Incorporated: Advocacy for People with Disabilities