Advocacy is the process of supporting an individual to be heard.
The individual is placed at the centre of this process and is supported to:
- Understand and exercise their rights; and
- Participate, to their maximum ability, in conversations and decisions affecting their life.
You may get advocacy support from a specialised advocacy service. These workers may be called advocates.
An advocates role is to represent you. This may be either in speaking, acting or writing with a minimal conflict of interest. When they engage on your behalf they represent your views, wishes and needs.
You can also receive informal advocacy from your friend or family. In some cases they may be ‘advocating’ on your behalf to ensure your needs are met.
Self Advocacy occurs when people feel confident in raising their own concerns without the support of a formal advocate or advocacy service. This is called self-advocacy. Below are some simple tips for self-advocacy that you may wish to use as a guide when self advocating and raising your concerns with others.
Define the issue – It is important to be clear about your concerns and desired outcomes before you enter into conversation with others about resolving issues. Before meeting with others, make a list of all your concerns and the outcomes you would like to achieve. This clarity will help guide you to communicate all your concerns and keep the process on track.
Know your rights – Find out what your rights and responsibilities are in relation to your issue. This guide may assist you. When you know your rights helps you understand what you are entitled to, and what you should expect. Rights are a great tool to refer to when raising your concerns. Rights can also help you understand your responsibilities in the matter.
Request a formal review – In some cases you have the right to request a review of decisions or your services. A formal review provides a great opportunity to communicate your concerns and /or unmet needs.
Identify and talk to the right person – Talk to someone who has the authority to make changes and work with you towards an outcome. In many cases issues can easily be resolved with improved communication.
Arrange a meeting – Sometimes a face to face meeting may be required. When requesting the meeting, be clear about what the meeting is for so that others are prepared to respond to your concerns. You may also like to prepare a meeting agenda.
Discuss possible solutions – Have an idea on areas where you may be willing to compromise and know the areas where you are not willing to negotiate. If you come to a solution, ensure that you set realistic timeframes for achieving these outcomes, and be sure that each party is clear of what needs to be done. Don’t feel pressured to accept outcomes you feel are unfair or unjust. There are many other complaint or resolution avenues that you can pursue if the meeting is unsuccessful. You may find helpful referrals and links in this guide.
Take notes – It is always good to keep notes on what has been discussed and agreed to at each interaction. You may need to refer to these notes at a later date if you wish to formalise your complaints.
Monitor outcomes – Ensure that you are monitoring that your outcomes and agreed terms are being met. You may need to follow up if these are not being met in the nominated timeframes. If you have not been able to resolve your care related concerns through self advocacy or our advocacy support, you may wish to consider making a formal complaint. To understand the best pathway for making a formal complaint you can ring our information line 9.30am-4pm Monday to Friday.
Seek Advocacy support – If at any stage of the self-advocacy process you feel you require additional support or information, contact an advocacy support organisation. See the Help- Advocacy section.