What is Advocacy?
- Advocacy is when a person or an agency supports a person with ASD (or other disability) to ensure their rights are upheld and to make decisions about their lives.
- Many families of individuals with ASD find themselves in the role of advocate from the time of diagnosis through the lifespan of the person with ASD.
- A self-advocate is a person who speaks up for themselves to ensure their rights and needs are met.
- Self-advocacy is not easy. There are agencies that can help you gain advocacy skills and negotiate the complex maze of services, supports and legalities that go with the life of a person with ASD.
- Advocacy is NOT taking over the life of the person with ASD, speaking for the person or making decisions for them without consulting them.
- Advocacy is about providing support and information to enable the person to make the best decisions and to communicate those decisions through the advocate if necessary.
- The motto for advocacy is “nothing about me without me”.
Who Can Be An Advocate?
- An advocate can be anyone you feel comfortable with supporting and representing you.
- They should be someone who can listen to both sides of a situation and support you to interpret the situation without bias.
- They should support you in your decision to make an informed choice.
- An advocate can be a friend or family member, sometimes a case manager or other service professional or a professionally trained advocate from an advocacy agency.
- When a person is deemed unable to make their own decisions they may be appointed an advocate by Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal through the Office of the Public Advocate.
What can an advocate do?
An advocate is a support person who can:
- Attend meetings with you
- Take notes
- Help interpret the situation for you or remind you of what happened in the meeting
- Speak on your behalf if necessary and you would like them to.
- Support you to make a complaint if needed.
- Support you to read or understand material such as policy, legislation or service guidelines
Self-advocates are people who advocate and speak for themselves.
Training is available for people advocating for themselves who would like to develop their skills further. This includes families speaking for themselves to gain access to services or education.
Agencies that can help with advocacy
Valid supports people with a disability to self-advocate. They provide training and information and have produced a range of resources in easy read formats which are excellent.
Phone; 1800 655 570 (Rural Victoria only)
Address 235 Napier Street Fitzroy Vic 3065
- The Association for Children with a Disability provides systemic advocacy for families of children with a disability particularly in the areas of service provision access and education.
Phone: 1800 654 013 (rural callers)
Address: Suite 2, 98 Morang Road, Hawthorn Victoria 3122
- Amaze provides systemic advocacy for people with autism in the community and represents the interests of people with autism to government, in healthcare and education.
They do not provide individual advocacy, but may be able to provide you with further information and support on how to be a self-advocate or negotiate with services.
Phone: 03 9657 1600
Address: 24 Drummond St Carlton Vic 3053
Advocacy Agencies in The Barwon Region
- ASSERT 4 ALL (formerly Barwon disAbility Resource Council (BDRC.)
Assertt For All provides support with Individual Advocacy, Self Advocacy and training and support for families/ carers who are advocating for their family member with a disability.
They provide support to people in the Barwon region including Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula, Queenscliff, Lara, Torquay, Anglesea and Golden Plains.Phone: (03) 52218011
Address: 48 McKillop Street Geelong VIC 3220
- Colac Otway Region Advocacy Service (CORAS)
Provides individual advocacy and support for people with disabilities in the Barwon South West RegionPhone: 03 5232 1009
Address: 50A Rae Street Colac Vic 3250
- Disability Rights and Advocacy Service Inc. (DRAS)
Provides individual and systemic advocacy support to people with disabilities living in the City of Greater Geelong and Borough of Queenscliff
Phone: (03) 5221 8033
Address: 38 Myers Street Geelong VIC 3220
- Southwest Advocacy Association Inc (SWAA)
Provides individual and systemic advocacy for people with all types of disabilities throughout south west Victoria.
(Warrnambool, Corangamite, Glenelg, Moyne, Southern Grampians)
Phone: (03) 5561 4584
Address: 31Princess Street, Warrnambool,
- Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service Inc.
Villamanta provides free state-wide disability related legal and justice issues.
Villamanta has a free call telephone advice information and referral service. They also provide legal case work, community legal education and training, policy and law reform work and sell a number of publications.
Phone: 1800 014 111 for legal advice between 1pm – 3pm on weekdays. Or 52292925
Address: 44 Bellarine St Geelong 3220
- Office of the Public Advocate
The role of the office of the public advocate is to protect the rights of people with disabilities in Victoria. They also have many publications and resources available.
Phone: 1300 309 337
Address: 5th Floor 436 Lonsdale Street Melbourne Victoria 3000