Written"Choice"Managing

- Written by Lauren Hislop. Lauren a social researcher with three university degrees. She has a strong passion for social justice. She has cerebral palsy however she doesn't let it define her. She says, "My life is a tapestry of many colours. I believe we should embrace our diversity."

I believe the significance of choice in relation to personal control is great for all individuals. This extends to people with disabilities. However, the difference between people with disability and people without disabilities is that people with disability appear to be given fewer choices than the general population.

Most people take simple choices, such as what time to have a coffee,  when to have breakfast etc. for granted. Many people with disability require assistance with personal tasks such as showering and dressing. Agencies that provide services for people with disability deprive their consumers of basic choices. Agencies need to offer a more flexible approach to how services are delivered. I believe that people with disability requiring services should have control over how these services are delivered and by whom.

An example of a basic choice is allowing a person to meet their carer prior to having them assist with intimate tasks. In addition to this people should be given the choice to express that they do not want a particular carer due to feeling uncomfortable.

I can provide an example of this in my own life. As a woman with a physical disability, cerebral palsy, I require some personal assistance to prepare for the day. I have asked my agency if I could meet the carers before they come to assist me. The agency informed me that, due to limited funding, they can't grant this request. So, 10 minutes after I initially meet a carer, I have to strip naked in front of them.  In most situations somebody would really expect to be bought a drink prior to allowing someone else to see them naked!! In all honesty, I find this extremely dehumanising and disrespectful. It leaves me in an extremely vulnerable state. However, I am extremely fortunate, as I only require one hour assistance per day on those days I don't receive informal support.

There are people with disability who require significantly more support than I do. Some people require 24 hour support with every aspect of their lives. For some people, agencies and their staff have complete control over when every aspect of their life occurs, even when they can go to the toilet. This is a direct violation of human rights. People with disability should have access to the same choices as people without disability. These include where to live, who to share a house with and many other choices.  These choices can be removed when you require assistance.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme promised to alter this situation, by changing how disability services are delivered. The NDIS was intended to grant people with disabilities more choice, voice and control. Realistically though, it requires an entire systematic change of disability services.

But our situation is certainly not bleak! There are multitudes of people with disability who are exercising their personal control by speaking up in relation to their situation. I encourage all people with disability to speak up for their rights. Everyone has the right to have control over their own life.