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Framework for supported decision-making proposed for people with cognitive disabilities

Portrait of happy woman with disability having fun in spring park

The Royal Commission published a research report titled Diversity, dignity, equity and best practice: a framework for supported decision-making.

The report details why empowering people with cognitive disability to participate in making their own decisions is important and how it can be achieved. “Cognitive disabilities” includes people with intellectual disabilities, or an acquired brain injury, a mental health condition or dementia.

Research was undertaken with 77 people, including people with cognitive disability, advocates, family members and service providers.

The report outlines nine universal principles, including:

  • All adults have an equal right to make decisions that affect their lives and to have those decisions respected.
  • Laws, legal and policy frameworks must contain appropriate and effective safeguards for people who may require decision-making support, including to prevent abuse.
  • The right to take risks to try new things is acknowledged and supported.

The report makes 11 recommendations, including:

  • People with cognitive disabilities and their supporters should lead supported decision-making reform and initiatives.
  • Building social connections for those who are socially isolated should be a priority.
  • Reforms and initiatives must take account of diversity.

The report concludes that for supported decision-making to succeed, it must encompass not only law reform, but changes to societal, professional and institutional cultures.


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