There may be times when you don’t feel listened to or feel like decisions are being made for you without any consideration of your thoughts, feelings or opinion. This is where disability advocates can play a vital role.
When a problem arises it can be hard to speak up and take control of how you want to live your life. This can be particularly difficult if the concerns you have are about care or services that you are relying on for meeting your most basic needs.
Many people find it difficult to raise a complaint or concern but it is important to address your concerns early and not leaving it to escalate. This is where a disability advocate can play an important role.
Disability advocates can act as a voice for people with disability by campaigning for social change, equal rights and opportunity. This can include speaking, acting or writing on behalf of the interests of a person or group in order to protect, promote and defend their welfare or justice.
An advocate can enable and support you by helping you understand your rights, listen to your concerns and discuss your options for raising that concern. They can assist with negotiating changes to your plan, give advice and support when dealing with service providers and help you overcome any barriers that may impact on your ability to participate in your community.
There are a number of different types of advocacy, each with a different focus. The six advocacy types are:
- Citizen advocacy - aligns you with volunteers who become loyal supporters and campaign for your rights.
- Family advocacy - helps family members of people with disability to advocate on behalf of their loved one.
- Individual advocacy - works with individuals on eliminating discrimination, abuse and neglect.
- Legal advocacy - maintains your rights by addressing the legalities of discrimination, abuse and neglect.
- Systemic advocacy - to reduce barriers and discrimination you may face.
- Self advocacy - supports you in advocating for yourself, or as a group.
The Australian Government’s National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) is a program that ensures people with disability enjoy and exercise their human rights within their community. The program enables access to local disability advocacy support and helps smooth out issues between people with disability and their service providers or the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).