Group 3

Support for Decision-Making

Image description: Jacob Hughes is pointing with a stylus to ‘yes’ on his communication device. His small dog is looking at him.

With support for decision making now on the NDIA’s agenda, Linda Hughes writes that we can expect to hear more about people with disability having  greater opportunity to be supported to make decisions about their own life. 

The NDIA recently released a consultation paper and is seeking feedback on a new proposed Support for Decision Making policy. Importantly this signals a renewed interest and greater importance being placed on supporting people to make decisions about their lives. 

We all know how important it is for all of us to have choice and control and make decisions about how we live our life. This is important for our personal wellbeing, freedom and for our sense of self. People with disability have the same rights to make decisions as everyone else. 

While to date the NDIA rhetoric talks a lot about choice and control, the reality is many people with disability, particularly people with cognitive impairment, have been denied the right to make decisions about their own life. 

It is important to know that people with disability can make decisions with the right support. Some people need additional support, including access to communication aids, to compensate for decision-making difficulties. 

So what is support for decision making? Support for decision making describes various types of supports and resources to help a person with disability make decisions. People who assist a person with disability with decision making are called ‘decision supporters’. A decision supporter might be family, a friend, trusted support worker, support coordinator or other service provider. 

It is important the decision supporter knows the person well, has minimal conflict of interest and supports the person to make their own decision rather than try to influence. 

Decision supporters can assist by breaking decisions down into smaller, more easy to understand chunks, helping to identify options and where possible enabling the person to experience and understand the consequences and practicalities of each option. People with disability may also require decision supporters to help enact their decisions. 

The NDIA’s proposed policy aims to:

  • Put the person with disability at the centre of decision making 
  • Provide guidance to decision supporters, as well as NDIA staff, partners and providers

While a person with disability may need to build their capacity and confidence in decision making, it is important that the people around them also build their understanding, expectation and enable the opportunities for a person to make decisions. 

I am excited to see this renewed focus within the NDIA and the sector more broadly. This puts the onus back on us to ensure the people we support are not denied the opportunity to make decisions and are actively encouraged and supported to do so.

To understand more about the importance of support for decision making and how we can better assist people please join us for an online webinar – Support for Decision Making with Emeritus Professor Jacinta Douglas. 

Jacinta Douglas was integral in developing the La Trobe Support for Decision Making Framework. This framework is an evidence-based approach that centres on the premise that providing the right level of support will compensate for decision making difficulties.

This webinar with help you:

  • Build an understanding of supported decision making
  • Develop insights into your own decision making preferences and practices
  • Identify the roles you may have in support for decision making
  • Understand the steps, principles and strategies of support for decision making
  • Apply support for decision making principles to your work practice


DATE: Wednesday 28 July, 2021
TIME: 1:30pm – 4:30pm AEST
1pm – 4pm ACST
11:30am – 2:30pm AWST

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