Introduction: what is disability advocacy?

What are the disability advocacy services available in Victoria, what do they do. What about self-advocacy?

Defining advocacy

Advocacy is work that is intended to support people in asserting their rights and interests, or that asserts their rights and interests with them. Advocacy may be for individuals or be about changing laws, systems and policies.

Types of advocacy services

Disability advocacy services are divided into generalist and specialist services. The generalist services are usually tied to a local area and do not cover the whole of Victoria. Specialist services may be state-wide or local. Usually specialist services either work on specific issues or are connected to a particular type of disability. For example, Disability Justice Advocacy works with people who have high support needs. The Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council works with people who have a mental illness. The Association of Children with a Disability advocates on issues affecting children and their families.

To find the most appropriate disability advocacy service for your needs, call (on 9639 5807) the Disability Advocacy Resource Unit (DARU).

Support for advocacy services

Advocacy services established a network called the Disability Advocacy Victoria (DAV). You can contact advocacy services and DAV through the DARU (seeTypes of advocacy services”, and Understanding disability and the law, for contact details).

Self-advocacy

The role of self-advocacy organisations is to assist people with a disability to advocate for themselves in all aspects of everyday life.

For more information, contact the Self Advocacy Resource Unit (see Understanding disability and the law).

Citizen advocacy

Citizen advocacy programs link people with disabilities to community volunteers. Volunteers advocate on behalf of people with disabilities and assist them in accessing community services and gaining their rights. Citizen advocacy organisations are based regionally. Contact the DARU to find your local organisation (see Understanding disability and the law).

Rural, metro and deaf access projects

These projects are funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to provide disability access workers to local councils. These workers plan and develop strategies across the full range of community infrastructure including education and training, transport, health, accommodation and housing, physical access planning, sport, recreation and the arts. If you need help in relation to local services, contact the worker at your local council.