Individual Advocacy

Individual advocacy is essentially the process of standing up for the rights of someone who is being treated unfairly. Disability Advocacy NSW can provide short to medium term, non-legal, issue-based advocacy support to people with disability who have serious and urgent issues.

Individual advocates who are professionally trained can help a person with a disability or their carer in the following ways:

  • Directly advocating on behalf of a person or providing information and advice so that a person can advocate for themselves (e.g. dealing with a landlord, support when going to court, support in dealing with the police or dealing with a legal issue by getting professional legal advice, negotiating a better deal from a government department, dealing with guardianship and financial management orders, dealing with problems at work, school, TAFE or uni etc)
  • Linking a person with other relevant services (e.g. helping a person get legal advice from a solicitor).
  • Talking over a problem (e.g. advocate can best help by simply listening and helping to think through options for moving forward)
  • Supporting an individual to take formal action on matters related to disability discrimination or making a complaint against a service provider (e.g. assisting a person to make a complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Board).

However, please note that advocates are not able to:

  • Provide case work or case management services (e.g. finding accommodation, applying for services, managing services, etc).
  • Provide advocacy services when a disability support worker / case worker can provide advocacy support and they do not have a conflict of interest.
  • Provide advocacy for a person when a more appropriate service is available to advocate and assist.
  • Provide advocacy for a person who wishes to take out a personal violence order at court against a neighbour or workmate etc if mediation has not been attempted to resolve the dispute

Examples of how a Disability Advocate can assist people with a disability:

  • Accommodation (Housing) e.g. assist client with tenancy issues, negotiate for more appropriate accommodation for young people in nursing homes
  • Access (Physical access) e.g. assist a client to seek improved access to a building, on behalf of clients work with local council to improve physical access to existing facilities
  • Children (Custody and child protection matters) e.g. support parents with an intellectual disability in care proceedings.
  • Compensation & Insurance (Accidents and injury) e.g. independently assist client to claim insurance from an accident or deal with compensation payout.
  • Consumers & Contracts (Consumer protection) e.g. assist a client unfairly treated in product purchase.
  • Decision making e.g. support a client at a guardianship tribunal hearing, help client to consider and understand all options in a major decision.
  • Disputes e.g. assist a client to participate in and understand a dispute resolution procedure.
  • Discrimination e.g. assist a client to take a disability discrimination complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission or the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW.
  • Education e.g. assist a client who may have been excluded from a training course, assist a carer to negotiate with a school about improving the support for a child with a disability.
  • Employment e.g. assist a client in dispute with work place.
  • Equipment e.g. assist client who has been unfairly treated by equipment supply service.
  • Finances (Debt, credit, pensions, benefits, superannuation) e.g. assist a client to challenge a pension debt.
  • Health (Health consumer rights) e.g. assist client to question a medical decision or raise a complaint about treatment for a mental illness
  • Offences & infringements (Crime, sexual and drug offences, traffic offences) e.g. assist a client to deal with a charge of parking infringement or assault.
  • Relationships (Marriage, divorce, de facto relationships, parenting, adoption, domestic violence) e.g. assist a client to participate in family court mediation.
  • Services (Disability) (Specialist disability service providers) e.g. assist a client to raise a complaint with a day program, or assist a client to access Home Care services.
  • Transport e.g. assist a client unable to get access to disabled taxis.
  • Wills & estates e.g. assist a carer to get advice and support to provide for client in the future or assist client to challenge a will.