Recommendation 4–11 The Australian Government should ensure that persons who require decision-making support, and their supporters and representatives, are provided with information and guidance to enable them to understand their functions and duties.
Recommendation 4–12 The Australian Government should ensure that employees and contractors of Commonwealth agencies who engage with supporters and representatives are provided with information, guidance and training in relation to the roles of supporters and representatives.
4.158 Consistent information and advice, and targeted guidance and training for all parties involved in the Commonwealth decision-making model is of vital importance in ensuring its effective operation.
4.159 Guidance and training also contributes to the fulfilment of Australia’s obligations under art 4 of the CRPD to promote training in the rights recognised in the CRPD so as to better provide the assistance and services guaranteed by those rights. It may also respond to recommendations made by the UNCRPD that Australia
provide training, in consultation and cooperation with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, at the national, regional and local levels for all actors, including civil servants, judges and social workers, on recognition of the legal capacity of persons with disabilities and on the primacy of supported decision-making mechanisms in the exercise of legal capacity.
4.160 It will be important to develop and deliver accessible and culturally appropriate information, guidance and training for:
people who require decision-making support;
supporters and representatives; and
the employees and contractors of Commonwealth agencies which operate under the recommended model.
4.161 This approach was strongly encouraged by stakeholders. For example, NDS observed that
To effectively implement both the supporter and representative role and more broadly the national decision-making principles, there is a need for an awareness-raising and learning and development strategy. Specific guidance and training needs to be available for the decision-maker, supporters, representatives and Commonwealth agencies interacting with the decision-maker.
4.162 One obvious concern was for guidance and training that focuses on the concept of supported decision-making itself. The point at which supported decision-making moves to representative decision-making needs to be closely monitored by supporters, and by the Commonwealth agencies responsible for implementing the scheme.
[A] key element in educating supporters is that they have a support role only: the supporter is not the decision maker, and is educated as such on support strategies, and how not to inadvertently become a substitute decision maker in this role.
4.163 Another concern was training in developing people’s decision-making ability. Stakeholders emphasised the need for ‘training and support being provided for people with disabilities to enhance their own decision making skills and their understanding of the various options for assistance’. NSWCID submitted that for some people with intellectual disability,
in ideal circumstances they may be able to make their own decisions. However, they may not be in those circumstances in that they have had very limited exposure to alternatives to current deprived lifestyles and/or are in entrenched relationships of control (benevolent or malevolent) by family members or other long-standing people in their lives.
4.164 Scope submitted that resources and supports are required to build decision-making ability and that
An evidence base is growing that supports the notion that all people, regardless of their level of cognitive impairment, can have their preferences heard through highly collaborative, detailed and lengthy supported decision making processes. These processes are reliant on strong circles of support that work collaboratively to support people to participate in decisions that reflect their preferences.
4.165 More broadly, stakeholders highlighted that the development and integration of supported decision-making will require significant cultural and attitudinal change within the community. NACLC, for example, suggested that, in addition to education and training for those engaged directly in the decision-making, a national community awareness and education campaign should be recommended.
UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, opened for signature 30 March 2007, 999 UNTS 3 (entered into force 3 May 2008) art 4(1)(i). See also art 8.
Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ‘Concluding Observations on the Initial Report of Australia, Adopted by the Committee at Its 10th Session (2–13 September 2013)’ (United Nations, 4 October 2013) 26.
Office of the Public Advocate (SA), Submission 17; Disability Services Commissioner Victoria, Submission No 61 to the Victorian Law Reform Commission, Guardianship Inquiry, May 2011.
Carers NSW, Submission 23; Disability Services Commissioner Victoria, Submission No 61 to the Victorian Law Reform Commission, Guardianship Inquiry, May 2011.
National Association of Community Legal Centres, Submission 127; Qld Law Society, Submission 103; Mental Health Coordinating Council, Submission 94; National Disability Services, Submission 92; AGAC, Submission 91; Scope, Submission 88.
National Disability Services, Submission 92.
See, eg, Carers NSW, Submission 23; Office of the Public Advocate (SA), Submission 17.
AGAC, Submission 91.
Office of the Public Advocate (SA), Submission 17.
Disability Services Commissioner Victoria, Submission No 61 to the Victorian Law Reform Commission, Guardianship Inquiry, May 2011, 6.
NSW Council for Intellectual Disability, Submission 33.
Scope, Submission 88. References omitted.
See, eg, National Association of Community Legal Centres, Submission 127; Scope, Submission 88.
National Association of Community Legal Centres, Submission 127.