What is Co-design and what it means to us

25 February 2022

I am Ricky and I am a Project Worker at CID.

I work on a project called My Life My Choices.

This project supports people to make decisions.

It is about people taking charge of their lives.

I work with team members in Adelaide, the Northern Rivers area of NSW, and Sydney.

We make resources and workshops about decision making for people with intellectual disability.

We call ourselves co-designers.

Most of our co-design team members have intellectual disability. Like me.

I talked to the co-designers about

  • What is co-design
  • What is it like to make decisions in life
  • Why we do co-design
  • What stands out to us about co-design

What is co-design?

On a co-design team people with lived experience, community members, researchers and professionals work together to

  • Improve something
  • Make something new
  • Find the solution to a problem.

This comes from the stories and ideas of the people the problems affect.

It starts with us because we know what it feels like.

We are people who have a lived experience with disability.

We know what works and what does not work.

Us co-designers come up with the ideas.

Everyone in the co-design team has different life experiences and opinions.

That way you are not getting just one experience.

You get a picture of what the common issues are in the disability community.

You think about your experiences and things you do in your own life.

Sam from the Sydney co-design team said,

“I think co-design opens up a new world which is great. There’s a lot of wonderful discussions and you learn a lot about yourself too. That’s what it’s done for me”.

What is it like to make decisions in life?

It can be hard for us to make our own decisions.

People think they know better and take over. They might have ideas about people with intellectual disability.

A co-designer from the Northern Rivers team said,

“The whole thing of making day to day decisions has been a new thing for me. It’s good to have that independence. If you don’t have it, it becomes a form of restriction”.

In our co-design team meetings we have found that most people

  • Do not want other people to take over
  • Find it hard to say no to other people
  • Worry about hurting others’ feelings if they make a choice.

Many people think that good supported decision making can help with this.


Why we do co-design to make supported decision making resources?

Most of the information about supported decision making is for the people who support people with intellectual disability.

There is not much made by and for people with intellectual disability.

Mitch from the Northern Rivers team said that they are

“standing up for those who have restricted access to resources”.

Our job has been to work out a way for people to get their message across and get the support for making decisions that works for them.

One of our co-designers in Adelaide explains,

“Decisions are part of you and what you are doing. You make your own choices and decisions for yourself and sometimes all of us need to get some support for decision-making.”

For us, the main reason to make information in a co-design way is to promote self-advocacy and be more independent.

Hopefully when people get this information it might change things.


What stands out to us about

The co-design teams learned a lot about co-design.

They have more confidence and skills.

Tim from the Adelaide team said,

“I have learned a lot about co-design and making supported decisions. It has helped me in my job and given me more confidence in myself and to be more proactive in the team. Believing in myself”.

For Sam in Sydney being part of the team was important because as well as helping her learn more about decision making, she says

“I wanted to do something that’s positive in this world for people with disability. It was challenging, but a lot of fun.

As Kane says,

“There’s been a lot of challenges on the way, lots of patience needed, lots of thinking. It’s been a rollercoaster. It’s been fun”.


Project Worker CID
Part of the co-design team for the My Life My Choices project.

Coming up next   

Keep an eye out on our Facebook page for our workshops, and our conference later in 2022.

We will share our resources and more about co-design with everyone then.

If you want to know more about My Life My Choices, call us on 1800 424 065 or email cathy@cid.org.au.

The My Life My Choices project is a partnership between CID and SACID.





This project was funded under the Australian Government’s Information Linkages and Capacity Building program.

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