Why self-advocacy is important

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Key Points

  • self-advocacy is a skill that can be learned and practiced
  • self-advocacy can help you in the workplace, and across your working life, for many reasons.

Why is self-advocacy important?

Self-advocacy is a skill that autistic people can learn and practice. It is an important skill for work, which often is a big part of our lives.

Autistic people have higher rates of unemployment, discrimination, bullying, burnout and mental health issues. So, being able to speak up and self-advocate for yourself - and your rights and needs – can be important in the workplace. 

Without being able to advocate for yourself, you may find yourself experiencing situations or conditions that are unfair or unfavourable.

Self-advocating in the workplace is not only about advocating for yourself, but also an opportunity to learn about yourself and to develop skills.

Self-advocacy is an opportunity to:

  • learn about yourself, your needs and your strengths and weaknesses
  • have an active role in the type of life you want
  • share your opinion about matters related to you
  • be involved in decision making processes
  • increase your independence and confidence
  • learn about your rights
  • learn how to make choices and decisions
  • improve your working conditions
  • support career progression and access to workplace opportunities
  • ensure your needs are supported
  • ensure your rights are respected
  • ensure you receive your entitlements
  • ensure you have access to a safe and healthy work environment
  • ensure you receive appropriate compensation, justice, and benefits.

How can it help me in the workplace?

Whether you are self-employed, job seeking, an employee, or volunteering, there are many situations or problems in the workplace that self-advocating might help you with.

These include:

  • managing and recruiting staff
  • dealing with matters related to clients and vendors
  • managing financial matters
  • workplace bullying, discrimination, or harassment
  • workplace accommodations and support
  • superannuation and tax
  • leave and pay entitlements
  • workplace health and safety
  • dismissal, resignation, or redundancy
  • job seeking and interviewing
  • co-workers, workplace dynamics, and culture
  • disclosure and privacy
  • transitioning to a new job, office location or job role.

Case Study

Story description

Frank has been a freelancer artist for over 10 years, and he believes that being able to self-advocate has played an important role in his experiences of work. 

He says that having the capacity to advocate for himself and his needs, particularly when dealing with problematic clients, has helped him navigate his business relationships successfully.    

Real Life Story