For Carers and Families: Advocacy Support
While you are your child’s best advocate (you know them better than anyone and are most passionate about their well-being). There may be times when you require additional support when speaking up on behalf of your child.
There are many types of advocacy and support available, from systemic advocacy working towards long-term social change through legislation and policy reform, to legal advocacy providing legal representation in the justice system. In this resource, we’ll cover free Self Advocacy and Individual Advocacy services to support you to advocate on behalf of your child.
Types of Advocacy
Is the act of speaking up for yourself or a loved one. Many organisations provide support and training to build and strengthen your advocacy skills. Helping you stand up for your rights as well as giving you advice and support to advocate for yourself.
Is when a professional advocate supports you with a particular problem. Advocates support you on a one-on-one basis, and they may help you understand your rights, explore your options, support you to attend meetings or make complaints.
Disability Advocacy Organisations
People with Disability Australia (PWDA), National
Australia’s national peak disability rights and advocacy organisation by and for people with disability. Some services are provided nationally, others for residents in New South Wales, and selected locations in Queensland.
Australian Centre For Disability Law (ACD), NSW
A community legal centre specialising in the legal rights of people who are discriminated against because of their disability. They offer training through ‘Learning Together’ a self-advocacy project to support children with disability and their families to understand their rights and make it easier for students to stay in mainstream education. ACDL also offers free disability discrimination legal advice and referrals through their phone line, as well as taking on selected casework and representation in some circumstances.
Action for People with Disability, Sydney
A non-profit organisation that provides Individual Advocacy and support for people with disability, and their families in the Northern region of Sydney across a broad range of issues.
Disability Advocacy (DA), NSW
Free Individual Advocacy services supporting people with disability across two-thirds of NSW. Providing help across a range of issues from Government services like the NDIS, disability services, education, transport and healthcare.
An independent, impartial advocacy organisation that supports families across New South Wales to promote and defend the rights and interests of people with developmental disability. Building their capacity to advocate for their family member with disability.
Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS), NSW
A free service for people with intellectual or other cognitive impairment in New South Wales to promote and protect their rights. Through the Ability Rights Centre (ARC), a community legal centre and disability advocacy service, they provide Individual Advocacy and legal help with NDIS appeals, support for parents with disability and rights education.
Down Syndrom Australia (DSA), National
Advocacy is the primary focus of DSA, providing Self-advocacy through the Down Syndrome Advisory Network and Supported (Individual) Advocacy for a person with Down syndrome and/or the person who cares for them.
Self Advocacy Sydney, NSW
Run by and for people with disability. Helping them to become their own Self Advocates by helping people to understand their rights, make their own decisions and learn to speak up for themselves. They also offer Individual Advocacy, advocating on their behalf and supporting a person with disability to be heard.
Side By Side Advocacy, NSW
Specialising in supporting people with intellectual disability, but also providing support to all people with disability in the northern suburbs of Greater Sydney. Their advocacy service is tailored to the needs of the person seeking assistance.
Legal Aid, NSW
State-wide independent government agency that provides information to anyone with a legal problem in New South Wales through their information and referral service, LawAccess NSW. Their lawyers also provide legal advice and representation at court to people who are eligible.
Regional Advocacy Services
Newell Advocacy, Regional NSW
An independent advocacy service that covers an area of 160,000 square kilometres across North Eastern NSW. They provide direct advocacy support to individuals with a disability, families, carers and groups.
Regional Disability Advocacy Service (RDAS), NSW + VIC
Individual advocacy across North East Victoria, Southern NSW including Riverina and Murray. Advocates can provide information and referrals, talk over a problem, make sure your rights are protected, help to make complaints, write letters and speak up on your behalf. RDAS also provides training, helping you to speak up for yourself, be assertive and develop your self-confidence.
Rights Information and Advocacy Centre Inc (RIAC), NSW + VIC
A not-for-profit organisation that builds the capacity of individuals with disability, and their families throughout Regional Victoria and Southern New South Wales. RIAC provides Individual Advocacy, with one-on-one support by an advocate to ensure your voice is heard. They can also support you in advocating for yourself.
Indigenous and Ethnically Diverse Advocacy Services
Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association (MDAA), NSW
The peak body for all people in NSW with disability and their families and carers, from a culturally and linguistically diverse / non-English Speaking background. Advocates will ‘stand beside’ you, providing you with information to support you in making a complaint, attending a meeting or referring you to another service.
Indigenous Disability Advocacy Service (IDAS), NSW
Works with Indigenous people living with a disability and their carers and families, to ensure they achieve and maintain their rights. IDAS aims to prevent abuse, discrimination or negligent treatment, promote the human rights of Indigenous people with disability and support them to make informed choices.
Health Advocacy Services
Australian Patients Association (APA), National
The APA is the voice of and for Australian patients acting as a signpost organisation that assists patients with direction and advice to best navigate the Australian Health Care system.
REACH – Patient and Family Activated Escalation, National
REACH is a system to raise concerns if you notice a worrying change in the condition of a loved one when you are admitted to a Hospital or Rural Multipurpose Health Services. If, after speaking with your nurse or doctor, you remain worried, REACH provides you with options to escalate your concerns.
Advocacy Services in Other States
Association for Children with Disability (ACD), VIC
ACD is the Victorian advocacy service for children with disability and their families. Providing support through their Individual Advocacy Service and empowering families with Self-Advocacy programs.
Queensland Advocacy for Inclusion (QAI), QLD
Independent not-for-profit advocacy organisation and accredited community legal centre. They provide Individual Advocacy support as well as the Disability Advocacy Pathways service that assists Queenslanders with disability, their family and carers to find advocacy services to suit their needs and location.
Advocacy for Inclusion (AFI), ACT
Independent not-for-profit advocating for all people with disability in ACT. Providing Individual Advocacy to speak for you and represent your views when you feel unable to. AFI also helps to build your capacity for Self Advocacy.
To learn more about the Practical Supports available to Carers and Families, visit our resource