The Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS) contracted researchers at the University of New South Wales to develop guidelines for supported decision-making. Everyone has the right to make decisions – many people look to others for support to help make decisions. This may include assistance in understanding the choices available, understanding the impact of those choices, and helping implement those choices.

People with cognitive impairment may need additional support for day-to-day decision-making as well as more significant decisions. This support may be provided formally through services, and informally by family and friends. This is different to substitute decision-making where someone else makes a decision for them – this may be done by parents (for someone under 18 years) or by legally appointed guardians or trustees.

The research

  • Reviewed existing research on supported decision-making. This identified key components, legal requirements, and safeguards of supported decision-making.

  • Engaged key stakeholders in terms of current decision-making supports and support needs. This included government stakeholders, statutory organisations and disability organisations.

  • Led to the development of a Principles and Guide for supported decision-making and identified how stakeholders can implement the Principles and Guide.

Principles and Guide
The Principles and Guide were developed to be compliant with Australia’s international law obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD). The Principles and Guide were also based on National Principles developed in an earlier project completed by the Australian Law Reform Commission (2014).

The Principles and Guide developed for this project:

  • Identify key elements of supported decision making. This provides a common understanding of what supported decision-making is – and is not.

  • Identify how and what stakeholders can do to support decision-making. This includes identifying the outcomes these steps are expected to achieve.

This report is funded with assistance from a funding grant offered under the National Disability Research and Development Agenda, jointly implemented by disability representatives from Commonwealth, State and Territory governments.

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