Advocating for your child
As a parent or carer of a child with a limb difference you will find yourself being their advocate as you talk with healthcare providers, teachers, community organisations, sporting and community groups, funders and government agencies.
Advocating or self-advocacy means speaking up and having your voice heard. It can help ensure that you and your child are listened to, assessed appropriately, have complaints heard, and able to contribute to funding outcomes and healthcare and education plans.
Your child has the right to participate fully in their community and have the same choices, opportunities and experiences as others. As an advocate for people with a limb difference you may help to promote inclusion and access for all.
Learn how to self-advocate
It is important to make the most of opportunities that come up during meetings with the people who play a part in meeting the needs, goals and aspirations of you and your child.
Some people can find self-advocacy intimidating, as it can mean standing up and exercising your own personal power. These tips will help you to advocate effectively:
- be active – ask about processes, what you can expect, timelines, who’s involved etc.
- express what your child’s needs are clearly
- set realistic goals
- get enough information to make informed choices
- consider asking an advocate, family member, or friend to come to meetings
- ask to speak to a more senior person if you don’t get a response within a reasonable time
- put your request in writing if you feel you are being ignored or forgotten
- keep a record of all materials, plans, and correspondence sent and received for future reference
- take notes when you attend meetings and document all phone calls
- ensure that anything that is agreed is in writing (e.g. funding, healthcare or education plan).
Role model positive self-advocacy
Remember, your child learns from you and if you can demonstrate positive, effective and courteous self-advocacy they are more likely to develop confidence when representing themselves.
Ask for help
Commissions and Ombudsmen respond to human rights, services and disability issues. Ombudsmen operate in all states and territories and can respond to local matters. National bodies:
There are several peak human rights and disability organisations that advise or advocate on behalf of people with disability in Australia. Please note, some of these organisations may not be able to advocate on behalf of individuals.