People with disability in NSW who need help managing their finances often lack support to make decisions about money. An SPRC evaluation shows that a funded agency is needed to help people take a more active part in deciding how to spend their money.
The NSW Public Guardian commissioned the SPRC to evaluate the Supported Decision Making Phase 2 project. Project staff at the Public Guardian worked with people with cognitive impairments whose money was managed by the NSW Trustee & Guardian to support financial decisions. The project also delivered workshops on how to support decision making to hundreds of service providers and established a group for networking and practice development.
Most people with cognitive impairments valued the chance to learn more about budgeting and saving in the project. Most also wanted more responsibility for their finances. Implications for future support for financial decisions are:
- Ongoing financial decision making support, facilitation and advocacy appears essential. It could be undertaken as part of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) individual packages or through funding for advocacy services.
- Financial literacy training for people with disability could be made readily available and delivered in accessible formats. Training for people who might support the person with disability, such as family members or service provider staff, could help manage conflicts of interest.
- NSW Trustee & Guardian could make its processes more accessible and transparent, incorporate supported decision making principles into its practice, and provide opportunities for people to build financial skills and manage parts of their estate.
Most service providers found that taking part in the training workshops and the networking group increased their capacity to assist people with cognitive impairments to make their own decisions. The high demand among service providers indicates that further funding might help to build their skills and embed supported decision making within organisations.