Independent advocacy and Supported Decision Making

Supported Decision Making has no formal definition and different people use the term differently. It is used in this document to refer to any process in which an individual is provided with as much support as they need in order for them to be able to:

a) make a decision for themselves and/or

b) express their will and preferences within the context of substitute decision making (for example guardianship or compulsory treatment for mental disorder).

In both cases, the purpose of Supported Decision Making is to ensure that the individual’s will and preferences are central to and fully respected in decisions that concern them. (Mental Welfare Commission; Good Practice Guide Supported Decision Making, 2016) Independent advocacy provides a mechanism for enabling individuals and groups to make decisions for themselves. The independent advocacy relationship does not have the conflicts of interest inherent in other relationships with family, friends, service providers and professionals. People accessing independent advocacy are protected from undue pressure, advice or others’ agendas.