Models of disability advocacy

Citizen advocacy – seeks to support people with a disability (also called protégés) by matching them with volunteers. Some of the matches made may last for life.

Through citizen advocacy:

  • people with disability who are isolated with no family or community supports or networks are sought out
  • volunteers are encouraged to represent the interests of a person with a disability as if they were their own and be free from conflict of interest
  • volunteers are recruited, trained and supported by a coordinator who manages the work of the citizen advocacy agency.

Family advocacy – works with parents and family members to enable them to act as advocates with and on behalf of a family member with disability. Family advocates work with parents and family members on either a short-term or an issue-specific basis. Family advocates work within the fundamental principle that the rights and interests of the person with disability are upheld at all times.

Through family advocacy:

  • family members are provided with advice and support;
  • the person with disability is assisted via the family member being directly supported by the agency to advocate on their behalf.

Individual advocacy – seeks to uphold the rights and interests of people with all types of disabilities on a one-to-one basis by addressing instances of discrimination, abuse and neglect.

Individual advocates work with people with disability on either a short-term or issue-specific basis.

Individual advocates:

  • work with people with disability requiring one-to-one advocacy support;
  • develop a plan of action (sometimes called an individual advocacy plan) in partnership with the person with a disability that maps out clearly defined goals;
  • educate people with disability about their rights; and
  • work through the individual advocacy plan in partnership with the person with a disability.

Legal advocacy – seeks to uphold the rights and interests of people with all types of disabilities on a one-to-one basis by addressing legal aspects of instances of discrimination, abuse and neglect.

Legal advocates may:

  • provide legal representation for people with disability as they come into contact with the justice system;
  • pursue positive changes to legislation for people with disability; and
  • assist people with disability to understand their legal rights.

Self advocacy – supports people with disability to advocate on their own behalf, to the extent possible, or on a one-to-one or group basis.

Through self advocacy:

  • advocates work with people with disability to develop their personal skills and self-confidence to enable them to advocate on their own behalf.
  • people with disability are educated about their rights.

Systemic advocacy – seeks to influence or secure positive long-term changes that remove barriers and address discriminatory practices to ensure the collective rights and interests of people with disability are upheld.

The systemic advocacy agency:

  • pursues positive changes to legislation, policy and service practices in partnership with groups of people with disability, advocacy agencies and other relevant organisations;
  • seeks to address barriers and discriminatory practices to produce long-term positive changes.
Content Updated: 15 May 2012