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.
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.
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).
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.
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?
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.