Friday, March 23, 2018


What is advocacy and why is it needed?

With the introduction of the ndis there has been much discussion around advocacy. One of the central aims of the ndis is to give participants and their families choices.  Choices around the activities they take part in; the services they choose to access; those who they want to support them; when they would like to be supported. 

The ndis is design to assist participants and their families to live a life reflect by their peers. 

This includes holidays and travel.  To achieve this we as a community need to have a discussion around 'accessiblity issues' and how we can provide a more inclusive environment to live in.

Addressing false accessibility advertising and making business owners more accountable is only one of the issues to tackle as together we build a more inclusive environment. Depending on the type of disability that presents your individual challengers the issues around accessibility can look very different. 

For some people with disability a menu at a coffee shop can be a barrier. If you are visually impaired, have a learning disability or are simply unable to read. As there are many types of hidden disabilities so too are the many different barriers faced by people living with disabilities.  Working with business in the community to enable them to be more inclusive of participants in the ndis is another area the ndis is investing in our communities. 

This is a new role for advocates. There is a belief that once the ndis is roled out funding for participants to access an advocacy service will no longer be needed.  This is not true, to ensure people with disabilities can access the same choices as every other Australian we need to ensure they have a voice. 

Many people with disabilities feel unheard and this can occur on so many level.  Even myself, with the ability to articulate well have found times when I needed to use a disability advocacy service. Sometimes people are not open to trying new ways of doing things or don't have the time to listen to someone with complex communication needs.  This is where a disability advocate can enable people to have a voice.

Advocacy allows people to have a voice!

Advocacy is about speaking out when we don't agree with decisions made by others, or we feel our rights have been denied. In the past participants have not always had choices and when decisions were made without consulting them the have felt dis- empowered.  When we disagree with decisions we are no always right, but we should have the opportunity to challenge decisions made about our lives. Sometimes decisions are based on miscommunication and an independent person can help a dialogue to be reopened. 

There are three types of advocacy:

  • Self-advocacy - speaking up for yourself
  • Using an advocate - asking someone to speak on your behalf
  • An advocate - who raises issues for discussion in the community.
Many participants and their families are not happy with some of the aspects of the ndis and their ndis plan. It's OK to express this. However its not OK to be abusive to you planner.  We all make mistakes and asking for a review may help as participants understand the decision better or mistakes may been found and can be corrected. 

Its OK to say your not happy!

If you don't express how you feel, nothing can be fixed and people will assume everything is the way we want.  However there is a right way and a wrong way to do this.  By keeping claim and letting the planner or the ndis know this you can open up a discussion.  If your still not happy you can as for a review, however you need to say why your asking for a review.

Remember its not about being right or wrong; it might be your planner misunderstood or made a mistake with out knowing.  Don't make the review or the reason your asking for a review personal. 

The introduction to the ndis is a great start, however interms of social inclusion we have a long way to go!  I believe advocates have a even greater role in this ndis enviroment.  People with disabilities may have funding for assistance to achieve their goals but the community is anything but ready to participaate along side people with disabilities.  Much needs to be done to educate business on the accessibility needs of disabilities.

It's time to find your voice!

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