Speak up for yourself and others

Advocacy is about speaking up in support of your rights and the rights of the person you care for. It is about negotiating to make sure that you get the practical, financial and emotional support you need.

Carers often feel that the service system is a maze, that professionals work against them and that they have to battle for every tiny gain.

It’s a lot easier to organise the services and supports that you need, and to make sure that they work for you if you approach people informed and prepared to negotiate.

Work in partnership with professionals

How to negotiate successfully

Contact our advisory line for information, advice and support to help you to advocate on your own behalf or on behalf of the person you care for.

Approach the right person or organisation
Who you approach will depend on the particular issues you want to raise. It can sometimes be difficult to decide where to begin. If the first person or organisation you approach cannot help, ask them for advice about where to go next.

Know your rights
You have rights in relation to the services and supports provided for you and so does the person you care for. Some rights are protected by law and others are written down in the service charters, guidelines and policies that direct how organisations operate. Ask for copies of any documents that might tell you what your rights are.

Learn about the situation
Try to understand the issues. If you find professional jargon confusing ask for things to be explained in language that you are comfortable with. Repeat things back in your own words so that you can be sure that you have understood.

Know what you want
Know what you want to achieve – perhaps for a new service to be made available to you or to change the way a service is delivered. Be clear and open about your ideal outcome but also consider where you might accept compromise. Be prepared to give way on points that are not important.

Have a meeting plan
Make sure that you are given enough time to deal properly to your concerns. Write down a list of your questions and concerns and create a plan of what you want to talk about.

Be assertive
Good communicators are clear and honest about what they want but they also listen carefully and consider other perspectives. Things may be done a particular way for reasons that you hadn't considered. Try not to sort out problems when you are angry. It also helps to direct your anger at the issues rather than making a personal attack.

Keep records
Keep all the documents you need together and sorted so that you can easily find what you want. Make notes (including the name and position of the person you spoke to, date and a summary of what was said) of your meetings and conversations so that you have an accurate record of what happened. Always ask for important decisions and information to be confirmed in writing.

Once you have reached agreement on what will be done, negotiate a reasonable timetable. Be prepared to follow up if nothing happens. Don’t accept excuses for lack of action.

Click here for the Carers ACT Action Kit, helping you contact media and politicians.

When negotiations fail

If you still feel your issues are not resolved you may need to take things further.