Information for Supporters and Services

This page has information for friends, family, service providers and support people about how to support women and girls with disability to make decisions about different aspects of their lives.

All women and girls with disability have the right to make their own decisions and choices and to have access to the information and support they need.

Watch the WWDA video about the right of women and girls to make their own decisions:

Tip: Click the subtitles button in the bottom right hand corner of the video to turn closed captions on and off.

Disability Service Standards

In Australia, there are six National Standards that apply to all disability service providers:

1. Rights: the service promotes individual rights to freedom of expression, self-determination and decision-making and actively prevents abuse, harm, neglect and violence.

2. Participation and Inclusion: the service works with individuals and families, friends and carers to promote opportunities for meaningful participation and active inclusion in society.

3. Individual Outcomes: services and supports are assessed, planned, delivered and reviewed to build on individual strengths and enable individuals to reach their goals.

4. Feedback and Complaints: regular feedback is sought and used to inform individual and organisation-wide service reviews and improvement.

5. Service Access: the service manages access, commencement and leaving a service in a transparent, fair, equal and responsive way.

6. Service Management: the service has effective and accountable service management and leadership to maximise outcomes for individuals.

Learn more on the Disability Service Standards website (external link).

The National Disability Insurance Scheme

Photo of a young woman with her arm around a golden retriever dog.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) aims to give eligible people with disability more choice and control over their lives. Choice means that they should have more than one option about the support they receive and who provides it, and control means that they get to make the final decisions about their NDIS plan.  

If you are a support person or service provider registered with the NDIS, it is important that you always allow people with disability to make their own choices about all aspects of their lives. You can help someone make a decision by giving them relevant information and advice, but you should not tell them what to do.

Requirements for NDIS Providers

To be eligible to become a registered NDIS provider, you must provide services that are consistent with:

If you are a service provider or support worker, you can do an NDIS online training course (external link) that explains the obligations of workers under the NDIS Code of Conduct (external link).

Supported Decision-Making

Sometimes, women and girls with disability need support to make choices and decisions. Support can include explaining different choices to them or providing counselling and emotional support to help them make a decision.

If you are supporting someone to make a decision, it is important that you clearly explain to the individual what the possible decisions and outcomes are, but also be careful not to coerce them into making a particular choice. Whenever possible, the final decision should always be up to the person whose life is most affected by its outcomes.

Tip: You can learn more about supporting someone to make decisions by using the ADACAS Decision Making Toolkit (external link).

Substituted decision-making

Where supported decision making is not possible, substituted decision making may be considered. Supported decision making should always be tried first and the appointment of a substitute decision maker should only be used as a last resort.

Guardianship

A Guardian can make decisions for someone when they cannot make decisions for themselves. Guardians are appointed to make health and welfare decisions on behalf of the person under their guardianship. Decisions may include where to live, what services to use and what medical treatments to have. A guardian cannot make decisions about money and assets, unless they have been legally appointed to do so.

When a guardian has been appointed, they should always try to understand the person’s goals, desires and values before making a decision on their behalf. A guardian can also help to build a person’s ability to make decisions for themselves.

Power of Attorney

A Power of attorney is a legal document that can be used to appoint someone to make decisions about property and finances.

A General Power of Attorney is used to give someone the ability to make decisions for another person for a set period of time. For example, if they go overseas or are going to hospital.

An Enduring Power of Attorney is used to give someone the ability to continue to make decisions for another person after they have lost capacity to do so themselves. An Enduring Power of Attorney can be used if someone wants to give another person power to make decisions for them once they can no longer do so.

Disability advocacy

Disability advocacy is work someone does to stop someone with disability being treated badly, or to help a person with disability with any issues they may have. Disability advocates may advocate for themselves, another person, or a group of people with disability.

Disability advocacy may include:

  • providing information to people with disability about their rights
  • assisting people with disability to uphold their rights by speaking with and writing to people and organisations to raise awareness of problems and seek solutions
  • helping people with disability to make complaints or engage in legal action
  • writing submissions and lobbying government to make changes that support the rights of people with disability
  • lobbying for social change by speaking publicly and to the media to raise awareness of issues affecting people with disability.

If you are an advocate for other people with disability, it is always best practice to ask people with disability what they need and want. People with disability are the experts in their own lives.

Co-design programs

The best way to support people with disability to make their own decisions and choices is to work with them to understand their needs from the very beginning. Co-design processes and programs focus on working directly with users to understand and improve their experiences of services, as well as the services themselves.

If you are running a program or service for people with disability, or developing a product to support people who need it, taking a co-design approach can benefit everyone. The process can involve the following stages:

  1. Engage: establish and maintain meaningful relationships with people with disability to understand and improve services.
  2. Plan: work with people with disability to establish the goals of your work.
  3. Explore: learn about and understand the experiences of people with disability and identify their ideas for improving services.
  4. Develop: work with people with disability to turn ideas into improvements.
  5. Decide: work with people with disability to prioritise and choose which improvements to make.
  6. Change: turn the ideas into action.
Tip: You can learn more about co-design on the People with Disability Australia website (external link).

Important Resources

Guides
Our Site Fact Sheet: Disability Advocacy
A fact sheet explaining what disability advocacy is.
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Publications
WWDA Position Statement 2: Right to Decision Making
Information from WWDA about your right to make your own decisions and choices.
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External website
Summer Foundation: National Disability Insurance Scheme Housing Resources
Resources to help with getting support for housing through the NDIS.
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1800RESPECT: Disability Support Toolkit
The 1800RESPECT Disability Support Toolkit has resources for front line workers supporting people with disability who have been impacted by violence and abuse.
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Commonwealth Bank: Addressing Financial Abuse
A website providing a series of booklets to help people recognise financial abuse and get help.
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ADACAS Decision Making Toolkit
An online toolkit to help with decision-making. Created by ACT Disability Aged Carer Advocacy Service (ADACAS).
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Commonwealth Bank: Women's Financial Well being Guide
A resource to help women improve their financial wellbeing.
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External website
Centre for Applied Disability Research: Research to Action Guides
A Research to Action Guide to help people providing support to people with disability to give the best possible care, supported by science.
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External website
Centre for Applied Disability Research: Disability Knowledge Clearing House
This website exists to help supporters of people with disability to understand what works, for whom, under what circumstances, and at what cost.
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External website
Inclusion Design Lab: It's My Choice Toolkit
A guide that empowers people to make choices about lifestyle, daily activities, support and citizenship.
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External website
Identifying Economic Abuse for Women with Disability: A Toolkit
A tool to help people with disability to talk about their money, to identify financial abuse and to get help when they need it.
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Publications
National Standards for Disability Services
This publication states the standards for disability services in Australia.
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Checklist
Our Site Accessibility Checklist: Written Information
A checklist to help individuals and organisations make sure that any public information they provide is accessible.
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Guides
Co-Design Guide
Co-design guide for organisations working with people with disability.
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Western Australia Individualised Services: Supported Decision Making
Information and downloadable guides about supported decision making for people wtih disability.
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External website
Guidelines for Providing Rights-Based Services to Address Gender-Based Violence and Sexual Health and Rights for Women and Young Persons with Disabilities
A guide about providing rights based services to address gender-based violence and the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and young persons with disabilities.
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NDIS Provider Toolkit
Information for registered National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) service providers.
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Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) General Comment 2: Accessibility
United Nations document on accessibility for people with disability.
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Where to next:

External website
Australian Commission for Quality and Safety in Healthcare
The website for the Commission that works with patients, carers, healthcare organisations and governments to set standards for healthcare and improve the safety and quality of care in Australia.
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Carers Australia
The website for the national organisation for carers in Australia.
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External website
Australian Guardianship Law
A website with information about the guardianship laws in Australia.
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External website
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
A website with information and statistics about health and welfare in Australia.
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Australian Guardianship Administration Council
A website with resources about guardianship.
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External website
First People's Disability Network: Our Way Planning Resources
The Our Way Planning resource uses the traditional method of art and story-telling to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living with disability to identify areas of their life they need assistance with.
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Videos
GasLit
An educational film about a woman with disability who has to fight to hold on to her identity in the face of the world’s assumptions, and strives for independence from her parents, who doubt her ability to become a mother.
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NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission
If you have a problem with a registered NDIS provider, you can make a complaint on this website.
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Citizens Advice Bureau
A website with information on topics like appointing a guardian and writing a will.
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Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA)
WWDA website where you can find a range of government submissions, reports and publications about women and girls with disability.
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National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
Information about the NDIS for eligible people with disability as well as their supporters and services.
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