Why is it important that people with disability make their own decisions?

People with disability have the same human rights as everyone else

Being able to participate in making decisions is a basic human right.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD) is an international agreement signed by over 100 countries including Australia.

Watch the following video explaining the UNCRPD agreement.

The UNCRPD says that people with disability must have the same human rights as everyone else. This includes the right to:

  • live independently in the community
  • access things like places and information
  • access health care and safety
  • make their own decisions.

By signing the UNCPRD Australia has made a commitment to uphold these rights.

In the past, people with disability did not have the right to make their own decisions. Instead, decisions were usually made on behalf of people with disability because it was thought that they were unable to make decisions. 

Making a decision on behalf of someone else based on what you think is best for that person is called substitute decision making.

We now understand that people with disability can and should make their own decisions and that they should have choice and control over their own lives.  

What is will and preference?

When a person with disability makes a decision, it should be based on their will and preference, not on what other people think is best for them.

Will is about a person’s beliefs, values and their long-term goals. It is what a person wants for their own life.

Hello, my name is Lily and I have a Behaviour Support Plan.


Being independent is important to me. Working in the community and making money is important to me. My religion is a big part of my life.

Portrait of Lily

Preference is about a person’s everyday choices. It’s what they like and dislike.

I want to work in hospitality and I want to live with my friends. I love going to the movies and listening to music. I don’t like the cold weather and I like wearing dresses.

Portrait of Lily


  • What are your will and preferences?
  • Imagine someone took responsibility for making all your decisions.
  • How would that make you feel?
  • How would you respond?

What are the benefits of people with disability making their own decisions?

When people with disability make their own decisions it enables them to:

  • Have control over their own lives. They are free to choose the things that make them happy and that align with their values.
  • Be themselves and to show people who they really are.
  • Build their knowledge and skills.
  • Build their self-confidence.
  • Learn from their mistakes.