The Fundamental Principle (The Dignity of Risk)
The fundamental principle that drives South-East Grey Support Services' administrative process is that people who have a developmental disability are much more capable than traditional human service systems have ever given them credit for. People who have never been allowed to make decisions for themselves may not make good decisions. When they first experience this, most decisions may be self-centred and self-fulfilling. However, people will never be able to make good decisions if they are never allowed to do things on their own. There is a degree of risk involved. We refer to it as ‘people having the right to experience the dignity of risk’, because to try to remove all risk from supporting people is, in fact, to put people at far greater risk.
History has taught us over and over again that to remove individuals from society, in order to protect them, is to invite abuse of people who may struggle to protect or represent themselves. People’s safety increases as they become known and part of community life. This can only happen if they are allowed to participate and be included in their community.
It is South-East Support Services' contention, that the more individuals are able and encouraged to become responsible decision-makers within the community, the safer they become. This is because they are developing competency and ability. Just as important, they are gaining respect within the community which ultimately leads to self worth and empowerment. As a result, they are able to protect themselves precisely because they can represent themselves and are included in their community.