Although the NDIS aims to give people with disability more flexibility and control, disability advocacy is just as important as ever. There may be instances in your life where you need someone to assist you in protecting and defending your rights. This is where a disability advocate can help.
What is a Disability Advocate?
Disability advocacy is acting, speaking, or writing to promote, protect, and defend the human rights of people with disability.
A disability advocate can advocate for themselves, an individual or a group of people with disability. Through advocacy individuals or groups of people, can work through issues and challenges that are having an adverse effect on their full and equal human rights.
There are six main types of disability advocacy:
Self-advocacy describes someone with disability who speaks up for and represents themselves. For people who are wanting to advocate for themselves, there are support and training opportunities for self-advocacy available through community-based groups.
Individual advocacy is a one-on-one approach undertaken by a professional advocate, relative, friend or volunteer.
Group/family advocacy involves advocating for a group of people with disability, such as a group of people living in shared accommodation.
Citizen advocacy is where community volunteers advocate for a person with disability, supported by a Citizen Advocacy organisation.
Systemic advocacy involves working for long-term social change to ensure the collective rights and interests of people with disability are served through legislation, policies, and practices.
Legal advocacy is where a lawyer provides legal representation in the justice system, pursues positive changes to legislation, or provides legal advice to people with disability about discrimination and human rights.
Advocates may be paid or operate on a voluntary basis.
Roles and Responsibilities of a Disability Advocate
There are several things a disability advocate can assist with, including:
Providing information to people with disability about their human rights and identifying circumstances of discrimination
Assisting people with disability to uphold their rights by speaking with and writing to people and organisations to raise awareness of problems and seek solutions
Helping people with disability to negotiate complaints processes or legal action to enforce their human rights
Writing submissions and lobbying the government to make changes that promote and protect the rights of people with disability
Campaigning for social change by speaking to the media to raise awareness and highlight situations where people with disability are treated unfairly
While disability advocates can be an incredible support to have, it is important to note that disability advocates are not:
Able to make decisions for another person
By understanding the roles and responsibilities of an advocate you can better understand how they can assist you.
Ways to find a Disability Advocate
There are many ways to find a disability advocate, including:
Word of Mouth: Discuss with your friends or family to see if they have any disability advocate recommendations. Word of mouth is always a great option to explore if you
Groups/Forums: In the age of social media, there are many platforms that you can explore for recommendations on disability advocates. Facebook has several advocacy groups that you can join. To find an advocacy group in your area, search ‘disability advocacy’, refine your search to ‘groups’, then enter your town or city. You can check the groups available to see if there is one that suits your needs.
Online Search: When you want to know something, Google is usually the place to go. By searching ‘disability advocate’ along with your state, city or suburb, Google can provide plenty of options to choose from.
Disability Advocacy Finder Tool: The Department of Social Services – National Disability Advocacy Program Advocate Finder is a great tool to help you search for a disability advocate. To find an advocate, you can search by your postcode or by your state. You will then be able to choose from the options provided.
Why Disability Advocacy is important
Unfortunately, throughout history people with disability have been subject to abuse, prejudice, ignorance, and a lack in human rights and adequate support. Although there has been a huge shift in recent years in ensuring full and equal rights people with disability, there are still many barriers that can occur. Disability advocacy is vital as it continues to push for and ensure that people with disability enjoy the same rights, freedom, choice, and control as everyone else.
Read more about the benefits of working with an independent, professional Plan Manager. Alternatively, contact our friendly team on 1300 322 273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.