Standing up for Your Rights

Even though everyone has the same rights, people are not always treated equally.

This page can help you learn how to stand up for your rights when you need to, and say no to unfair treatment.

Watch the WWDA Youth Network video: 'Understanding and Advocating for your Rights':

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

Disability advocacy

Once you know what your rights are, it is easier to stand up for yourself in different situations.

Disability Advocacy is work an individual, a group or an organisation does to stop a person with disability being treated badly.  

Photo of Amy; a young Aboriginal woman with disability. In this photo she is wearing green glasses and a cap and is looking to the left.

Self-advocacy

Self-advocacy is when you speak up or act on an issue or a situation where your rights are not being supported.

This might involve speaking up for yourself. For example, speaking to a business that does not let you inside with your companion dog, or complaining to your workplace for not giving you the flexibility you need to attend medical appointments.

Self-advocacy can also be speaking up for women with disability as a group. For example, asking the government to increase the rate of the Disability Support Pension (DSP).

Advocacy support

If you need support to make a complaint or speak up about your rights, you can ask a disability advocate for help.

Advocates can help you by speaking on your behalf to services, organisations and employers, making complaints about discrimination and more.

Find an advocate with the Australian Government Disability Advocacy Finder (external link).

Where do I start?

The first step in standing up for your rights is knowing what your rights are.

Remember your basic rights. You have the right to:

  • freedom to make your own choices and to be yourself
  • fair treatment in all areas of life including work, education and the law
  • safety from all forms of violence, abuse and poor treatment
  • respect for your privacy and family life
  • support to access things like healthcare, housing.
Tip: You can learn more about your rights by downloading and reading the WWDA Human Rights Toolkit.


Stay calm

If someone treats you badly it may be tempting to get angry or become aggressive, but it is important to stop, stay calm and think before you act.

For example, if your manager at work tells you that you cannot go to a doctor’s appointment, try not to get upset and say things that you may regret. Being aggressive or rude is unlikely to get you what you want.

Think about what your options are. Ask yourself questions like:

  • When is a good time to approach my boss about the situation?
  • Is there a way to talk to the my boss about the situation that will help them to understand my needs?
  • Are there guidelines about accessible work that I can show them?

Plan ahead

Before you ask for what you want, it can help to prepare. You could write down or collect information about things like:

  • what the problem is
  • what you want to change
  • any laws, policies or documents that support what you want.  

Planning ahead may not always be possible, but if you can do this it will help you to have evidence to support you and help you to feel more confident.

Consider a formal complaint

If someone does something that violates your rights, it can sometimes be helpful to make a formal complaint. You can learn how to do this on the Making a Complaint page.

Important resources

Guides
Our Site Fact Sheet: Discrimination and Making a Complaint
A fact sheet to help you learn what discrimination is and how to make a complaint if someone discriminates against you.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Download Word (accessible)
Download PDF
Listen Now
Download PDF
Download PDF
Watch Video
Guides
Our Site Fact Sheet: Disability Advocacy
A fact sheet explaining what disability advocacy is.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Download Word (accessible)
Download PDF
Listen Now
Download PDF
Download PDF
Watch Video
Guides
WWDA Human Rights Toolkit
A toolkit split into 8 sections with information to help women with disability understand and stand up for their rights.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Download Word (accessible)
Download PDF
Listen Now
Download PDF
Download PDF
Watch Video
Guides
WWDA Youth Human Rights Workbook
A workbook to help young women with disability learn about human rights.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Download Word (accessible)
Download PDF
Listen Now
Download PDF
Download PDF
Watch Video
Guides
WWDA Easy English Human Rights Toolkit
A toolkit split into 4 parts with information in Easy English to help women with disability understand and stand up for their rights.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Download Word (accessible)
Download PDF
Listen Now
Download PDF
Download PDF
Watch Video
Guides
Our Site Fact Sheet: Standing Up For Your Rights
A fact sheet with information to help you stand up for your rights.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Download Word (accessible)
Download PDF
Listen Now
Download PDF
Download PDF
Watch Video
Guides
Our Site Fact Sheet: Contacting Members of Parliament
A fact sheet about how to contact a member of parliament.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Download Word (accessible)
Download PDF
Listen Now
Download PDF
Download PDF
Watch Video
Guides
Our Site Fact Sheet: Making a Government Submission
A fact sheet about how to make a government submission.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Download Word (accessible)
Download PDF
Listen Now
Download PDF
Download PDF
Watch Video

Where to next

Videos
ITalk Studio Videos for Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission
If you went into a shop, a petrol station or a night club and were shamed and treated less that equal, what would you do?
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Accessible Word File
Download PDF
Listen Now
Download PDF
Download PDF
Watch Video
External website
Girls Rights Platform
A Plan International website to help young activists stand up for their rights.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Accessible Word File
Download PDF
Listen Now
Download PDF
Download PDF
Watch Video
External website
Australian Human Rights Commission
The national organisation in Australia that supports your rights.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Accessible Word File
Download PDF
Listen Now
Download PDF
Download PDF
Watch Video
External website
Disability Advocacy Finder
A website that can help you find a disability advocate.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Accessible Word File
Download PDF
Listen Now
Download PDF
Download PDF
Watch Video
External website
United Nations (UN)
The international organisation that supports your rights around the world.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Accessible Word File
Download PDF
Listen Now
Download PDF
Download PDF
Watch Video
External website
Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability
Information about the Disability Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, including how to make a submission.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Accessible Word File
Download PDF
Listen Now
Download PDF
Download PDF
Watch Video
External website
Disability Royal Commission: Unofficial Information site
A website with information to help you take part in the Royal Commission.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Accessible Word File
Download PDF
Listen Now
Download PDF
Download PDF
Watch Video
External website
NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission
If you have a problem with a registered NDIS provider, you can make a complaint on this website.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Accessible Word File
Download PDF
Listen Now
Download PDF
Download PDF
Watch Video
External website
People with Disability Australia: Disability Inclusion Toolkit
Toolkit for people with disability to learn about self advocacy.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Accessible Word File
Download PDF
Listen Now
Download PDF
Download PDF
Watch Video
External website
Scribe and Speak
A blog by Jacqui Brady about her comedy acts that aim to challenge stereotypes about disability.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Accessible Word File
Download PDF
Listen Now
Download PDF
Download PDF
Watch Video
External website
Vision Australia: Stand Up for Your Rights
A website with guides to help people with vision impairment to stand up for their rights. The guides cover general skills, web accessibility, employment, travelling with a guide dog and education.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Accessible Word File
Download PDF
Listen Now
Download PDF
Download PDF
Watch Video