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.