Systemic Advocacy

DA and its advocates are committed to ensuring that reoccurring problems for people with a disability are dealt with at a higher level in an attempt to stop the same problems happening to others . We try to build strong evidence based strategies to do this. However, systemic advocacy does not form the main part of DA’s advocacy work due to limited resources.

There are a range areas DA is seeking to work on, however we try to strategically focus on one or two priority areas.

Students with a Disability

“A Parent’s Toolkit: school issues for students with a disability” by DA NSW  is now available: A Parent’s Toolkit – School issues for students with disabilities v 1.1

Much of the reason for this toolkit is due to the large number of requests DA receives each year from parents whose children are experiencing problems at school – many of whom have been suspended or expelled for behaviours associated with their disability.

The aim of this toolkit is to provide a comprehensive guide for parents and advocates in relation to the NSW education system. The toolkit provides information on support funding, discipline, WH & S issues, bullying and discrimination. We hope that this toolkit will provide students with disabilities as well as their parents and advocates with useful information, including self-advocacy skills.

Legal Disadvantage

Many of our clients experience disadvantage in the justice system. This is evident in general research and the fact that our most common advocacy issues relate to legal matters.

Mid North Coast of NSW and Access to Justice

A past systemic advocacy success story for DA was the establishment of a community legal centre in a region that had poor access to free legal assistance for people with a disability and other disadvantaged groups. Catherine Peek advocate and Deputy CEO undertook extensive research and consultations in the Mid North Coast community before lobbying decision makers to consider a community legal centre for this region. As a result the Mid North Coast Community Legal Centre was established in 2011. Community Legal Services on the Mid North Coast – Systemic Advocacy Project Summary

CLSD project

Cooperative Legal Service Delivery project (CLSD) ensures that key legal agencies and community groups work together to assist economically and socially disadvantaged groups such as people with a disability.

DA is the regional coordination agency for this project. Susan WilcoxHunter Regional CLSD Coordinator

Late last year the extension of the CLSD program on the Mid North Coast was proposed and after consultations with the communities two new CLSD regions were approved: The Taree & Great Lakes CLSD region and the Kempsey & Nambucca CLSD region.

The Hunter CLSD network organised a Discrimination Toolkit Workshop for Aboriginal Community Workers in August 2011. The Hunter was one of the first regions which hosted the workshop.

In November 2011 the Hunter CLSD and the Family Law Pathways Network organised the one day Borderline Personality Disorder Workshop for lawyers, mediators and support workers including volunteers and advocates. The workshop was presented by the Hunter branch of Mental Health Carer’s ARAFMI NSW INC. The interest in the workshop was overwhelming and the Family Law Pathways Network organised a second workshop in May 2012.

In March 2012 the Anti-Discrimination Board, the Energy and Water Ombudsman, Legal Aid NSW, Fair Trading NSW, the Health Care Complaint Commission, Australian Security and Investment Commission (ASIC) and The Aged Care Rights Service (TARS) came to Newcastle and took part in the Good Services Forum for Aboriginal community members. As part of extending the Hunter CLSD activities to the Upper Hunter the Good Service From took also place in Singleton. If you are interested in information about the Good Services Mob go to www.goodservicemob.com.au.

Hunter CLSD ran information sessions for applicants and defendants of an Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO) at Newcastle Local Court. The information sessions gave an overview of the court procedure in APVO matters and about mediation to resolve the dispute.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

Our service believes the NDIS has great potential to improve the access of people with a disability to services and resources. DA staff have supported this campaign for the introduction of the NDIS. As the Hunter is a launch site for the NDIS DA advocates have provided significant media comment to TV and major newspapers to explain the significance and need for the NDIS. We are also consistently reviewing the operation of the NDIS based on our coalface experience and providing independent feedback to the agency. Our main spokesperson on this issue was advocate Bronwyne Chapman who has a disability.