Innovative Practice 2019 on Independent Living and Political Participation

Demonstrating supported decision-making to change national guardianship laws

Bizchut – the Israel Human Rights Centre for People with Disabilities – is a non-profit organization based in Jerusalem that supports people with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities as well as autism to retain control over important life decisions, with the assistance of trained professionals and volunteers. From 2014 to 2018, approximately 2,300 individuals have received training and 50 have received supported decision-making services. Based on the experiences of this model, the Government of Israel has since amended national guardianship laws and is carrying out two replication pilots.

“Now I’m making very good decisions. It makes me feel good that I’m making decisions and no-one else can decide for me.”

Debbieparticipant in Bizchut’s supported decision-making pilot
About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Supported decision-making
Organisation:Bizchut
Country
of Implementation
Israel

FACTS & FIGURES

  • 32 training workshops for 810 persons with disabilities and relatives
  • 42 training workshops for 1,455 professionals
  • 10 successful court decisions with less restrictive arrangements for independent decision-making

PROBLEMS TARGETED

People with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities as well as those with autism often are prevented from having control over important decisions that affect their lives, particularly when decisions are made by appointed guardians.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

Debbie with her supported decision-making supporter, Maayan.

Bizchut began by training decision-making supporters, volunteers, and paid staff to support individuals with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities in making their own decisions on important life matters. The organization also represented participants in court proceedings to change or cancel guardianship arrangements. Bizchut then hosted a conference to share its experience, which was attended by the Israeli Justice Minister. Bizchut’s model has demonstrated how supported decision-making can work and has provided an example for the government, which has adopted a similar service. The project was discussed by the Israeli Parliament, and in 2016 supported decision-making was written into the Israeli Guardianship Law as the preferential option for those who would have previously been deemed by the courts as needing a guardian.

As of 2018, the Israeli Government is implementing two pilots that replicate the Bizchut model. In addition, the Disability Rights Commission is piloting training courses for decision-making supporters based on Bizchut’s courses; and government Legal Aid lawyers are supporting the practice, with over 40 court decisions having appointed decision-making supporters rather than guardians.

FUNDING, OUTLOOK AND TRANSFERABILITY

As of 2018, Bizchut continues to advise and support the Ministries of Justice, Welfare, and Health with implementation of the policy via representation of a coalition of 20 organizations working in the sector. Bizchut also provides advice to the new Supervisor for Supported Decision-Making at the Israeli Ministry of Justice.

Project materials have been translated into English and are available for replication, with information having been shared with organizations in Bulgaria, Canada, Georgia, Ireland, Kenya, and the United States.

The demonstration phase of the project between 2014 and 2016 was funded by a grant of €244,000 from the European Union. The continued advisory and information sharing work is supported with an annual grant of €50,000 from the Open Society Foundation.

Baruch with his supported decision-making supporter, Shachar.

FACTSHEET

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