Ageing, Disability & Home Care

Supported Decision Making projects

Ageing, Disability and Home Care’s Supported Decision Making Pilot

In a joint initiative with the NSW Trustee and Guardian and the Public Guardian the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS), Ageing Disability and Home Care (ADHC), conducted a small scale pilot project in 2013/14 to explore what supported decision making might look like in practice in the NSW context.

The aims of the pilot project were to learn:

  • more about how supported decision making relationships work
  • what tools and resources are useful
  • what issues may need to be considered for the broader application of a supported decision making framework.

ADHC’S SDM pilot received a positive mention in the United Nations’ Concluding Observations on the initial report of Australia on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2013.

Further information on the pilot

The My life, my decision independent evaluation of the pilot noted that it demonstrated SDM could be successful for a diverse group of people with disability and varied support needs and circumstances. Further, the pilot demonstrated that it was possible to enhance the legal capacity of a number of people with disability to make their own decisions and deliver on the intent of Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (NCRPD) to recognise their legal capacity

As a result of the pilot and evaluation recommendations, FACS has facilitated six additional projects:

Advancing Supported Decision Making Project builds on the Supported Decision Making (SDM) Pilot, through embedding SDM practices within Ability Links and Early Links programs. UnitingCare Jaanimili and the St Vincent de Paul Society have SDM facilitators who are working with people with disability, and their chosen supporters, to develop skills and confidence to exercise choice and control for themselves. Jaanimili is working with their local Aboriginal communities to explore how best to build SDM capacity with Aboriginal people and their families.

Financial Decision Making and Financial Literacy Skill Development. FACS is collaborating with the NSW Public Guardian and the NSW Trustee and Guardian to create and deliver a supported decision making program to support people make financial decisions. Other key initiatives of the project include supported decision making training and community engagement, financial literacy development, the revision of the NSW Capacity Toolkit to incorporate supported decision making information, and the development of a sustainable community of practice group. For further information, please call the PG Information and Support Line on 8688 6070.

Disability Rights Project is being led by the NSW Ombudsman and aims to build the capacity of people with disability to understand and exercise their rights as NSW moves towards the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Consultations on the national quality and safeguarding framework proposed for the National Disability Insurance Scheme revealed that people with disability have difficulty identifying and pursuing their rights. This project will build the capacity of people with disability to understand their rights and identify avenues available to make complaints. The project will also focus on promoting the need for strong systems to prevent and respond to abuse and neglect of people with disability. The project will be co-designed and co-delivered with people with disability. Partnerships with complaints handling and rights agencies will be developed in order to improve the capacity of agencies who work with people with disability to respond to complaints, or allegations of abuse and neglect. The project will focus on developing a range of practical and targeted resources in a variety of formats, and will include a revision of the Ombudsman’s Rights Stuff Toolkit.

Supported Decision Making Workshops for 14-18 year olds with disability, their families and/or carers project. Carers NSW and Mirri Mirri will partner to deliver a series of workshops in key metropolitan and regional areas of NSW. The workshops will build decision making capacity in young people (14-18 years) and their families/carers. The project aims to prepare young people and their families/ carers for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, through developing age appropriate decision making and increasing their capacity to self direct. Working with families /carers will support their move away from substitute decision making.

Supporting Transition and Independence in the Leaving Care Program. This project will oversee the development of capacity building activities aimed towards building the skills of young people with disability in the Leaving Care Program, their family or carers and disability sector staff. The Leaving Care Program  supports young people with disability to transition from the parental responsibility of the Minister for Family and Community Services to live as independently as possible within the community. These project activities will assist young people to maximise their choice, control and decision making to ensure that the supports they access best meet their needs, goals and aspirations. The project will also develop sustainable options for how supported decision making can best be embedded within the policy and practice of the CREATE Foundation, which gives a voice to young people in care.

Developing and Piloting a Continuum Approach to Decision Making, at the Kanangra Centre (Morisset).

The project is being undertaken in partnership between FACS, St Vincent de Paul and La Trobe University and is piloting support for decision making approaches for people who live in FACS Large Residential Centres. The goal is to ensure that all people are provided with the support they require to exercise optimal choice and control in decision making, regardless of their decision making capacity and existing supports as well as address some of the disadvantage experienced by people who live in LRCs, including isolation from social support, limited ability to exercise choice and restricted life experiences that can impact upon their capacity to make decisions.

The project has produced the Support for Decision Making Practice Framework which aims to lay foundations to guide practice for decision making supporters of people with cognitive disability. The framework will also be a useful resource for families, carers, support workers and guardians on how to optimise opportunities for people with cognitive disability to make decisions and have greater control over their lives. Enabling people with cognitive disability to direct their own decisions will only happen if supporters have high expectations that people can participate in decision making and have strong commitments to make this happen.

The project is midway through its implementation and is currently being evaluated through an action research approach.

Boarding House Resident Capacity Building Project. Neami will work with residents of Assisted Boarding Houses in NSW to support people with disability to exercise choice and control, through supported decision making, and develop support networks. Neami will also work with licensees, and managers of Boarding Houses to understand their role and develop skills to support their residents.

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