Demonstrating supported decision-making to change national guardianship laws
- BIZCHUT - Israel Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities
- Country of Implementation
- Asia & Pacific
- Start Year
- First published
“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.” Debbie, participant in Bizchut's supported decision-making pilot
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
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.
THE STORY OF DANA, A BENEFICIARY OF THE BIZCHUT PROGRAMME
“I was the first person with a disability in Israel to have my guardian removed.”
My name is Dana, and I am a 42-year-old resident of Haifa who was born with cerebral palsy. After my parents died I lived by myself, during which time I spent too much money and got into financial trouble. As a result, my brother was appointed my guardian, and then I was transferred to a large guardianship agency that had full control over all my finances. I wanted to take the university entrance exams, to get a dog, to learn to drive. My guardian said no to all of these things because it was “a waste of money.” Then I met Yotam from Bizchut, who agreed to help me replace my guardian with someone who would let me make decisions on my own and would give me the support I really need. That’s when we found Yehuda, an accountant. The court cancelled my guardian and appointed Yehuda instead. Now I talk to him before I make decisions about money. We have made a financial plan, and I even have a savings account. What’s more, I have taken the university entrance exams, I now have a dog, and I am going to start learning to drive! Life is completely different without others making decisions for me. I am proud to be the first person with a disability in Israel to have my guardian removed and to be given a decision-making supporter.