National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP)

Service Area
NDAP and the National Disability Insurance Scheme
NDAP Programme Guidelines
Aims and objectives
Target Group
Definition and Models of Disability Advocacy
Further Information about NDAP


The National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) provides people with disability access to effective disability advocacy that promotes, protects and ensures their full and equal enjoyment of all human rights enabling community participation.

The policy and implementation of the NDAP is guided by the principles and objectives of key legislation, conventions, agreements and frameworks, including but not limited to: the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the National Disability Strategy; the National Disability Agreement, the National Disability Advocacy Framework; and the Disability Services Act 1986 (DSA).

NDAP disability advocacy agencies receive funding under the DSA. The DSA and its associated Principles and Objectives have a focus on outcomes for people with disability. All disability advocacy agencies funded under the NDAP must comply with the DSA and the applicable standards.

In 2011 the Australian Parliament passed amendments to the Disability Services Act 1986, as part of the Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment Bill (SSOLA Bill), to mandate the introduction of a Quality Assurance system for NDAP.

Service Area

Agencies are funded to provide disability advocacy support in specific geographic areas. There are two types of geographic coverage:

  • Statewide
  • Local Government Areas (LGAs)

The NDAP Provider Finder is a web-based application for people with disabilities, carers and their families, to search for advocacy agencies funded by the Australian Government with Australia by Postcode, State or Provider Type.

NDAP and the National Disability Insurance Scheme

“The role of advocacy in representing the interests of people with disability is to be acknowledged and respected, recognising that advocacy supports people with disability by:

  1. promoting their independence and social and economic participation;
  2. promoting choice and control in the pursuit of their goals and the planning and delivery of their supports; and
  3. maximising independent lifestyles of people with disability and their full inclusion in the mainstream community.” (National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013).

Advocates assist people to participate in decision making and increase their capacity to understand the service delivery options available to enable them to meet their goals. In this way they can be an important way of encouraging choice and control, which is an underpinning principle of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

For NDAP agencies based in the National Disability Insurance Scheme launch sites, there are additional roles which may include assisting people through the planning and review processes with the National Disability Insurance Agency.  Funding has also been provided via the External Merits Review – Support Component to provide assistance to people with disability seeking a review of National Disability Insurance Agency decisions through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which is an important mechanism to ensure that  decisions are fair and robust.

There are support persons available to ensure the external merits review system is accessible and as non-adversarial as possible for people with disability.  All applicants seeking external merits review by the AAT are entitled to a support person provided through one NDAP provider in each launch site. Applicants to the AAT will have a choice to use friends, family, carers, lawyers, disability advocates, or support workers from other agencies as a supporter at the AAT, or the support person.

NDAP Programme Guidelines

The Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS) has developed a suite of Programme Guidelines which provides grants funding, and the suite of Activities that contribute to that Programme.  The Programme Guidelines provide the key starting point for organisations who are considering whether to seek funding, and form a business relationship with DSS.

Information about the Disability and Carer Support Activity, which includes the National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) is available through the Disability, Mental Health and Carers Programme.

NDAP Operational Guidelines

Operational Guidelines have also been developed, as an adjunct to the DSS’ Programme Guidelines, for the National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP).  The NDAP Operational Guidelines provide more specific information about the program, and should be viewed in conjunction with DSS Programme Guidelines.

Aims and objectives

The objective of the NDAP is that:

  • People with disability have access to effective disability advocacy that promotes, protects and ensures their full and equal enjoyment of all human rights enabling community participation.

Target Group

The target group for advocacy support provided by NDAP agencies, as required under section 8 of the Disability Services Act 1986 (DSA), consists of people with disability that:

  1. ‘is attributable to an intellectual, psychiatric, sensory or physical impairment or a combination of such impairments;
  2. is permanent or likely to be permanent; and
  3. results in:
    1. a substantially reduced capacity of the person for communication, learning or mobility; and
    2. the need for ongoing support services.

Definition and Models of Disability Advocacy

In broad terms, advocacy for people with disability can be defined as speaking, acting or writing with minimal conflict of interest on behalf of the interests of a disadvantaged person or group, in order to promote, protect and defend the welfare of and justice for either the person or group by:

  • Acting in a partisan manner (i.e. being on their side and no one else's);
  • Being primarily concerned with their fundamental needs;
  • Remaining loyal and accountable to them in a way which is empathic and vigorous(whilst respecting the rights of others); and
  • Enduring duty of care at all times.

Approaches to disability advocacy can be categorised into six broad models being:


NDAP agencies may be categorised into generalist or specialist agencies.

  • Generalist agencies provide advocacy support to people with any type of disability or cultural background.
  • Specialist agencies may provide advocacy support to people with disability:
    • with a specific type of disability;
    • from Diverse Cultural and Linguistic backgrounds; or
    • from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

Further Information about NDAP

Further information about NDAP can be obtained by viewing the video – National Disability Advocacy Program, Advocacy for people with disability or by contacting the Department via:

Disability and Carers Group
Department of Social Services
GPO Box 9820
Canberra ACT 2601


For day to day issues relating to funding agreements and other program and operational matters, disability advocacy agencies should contact the NDAP Grant Agreement Manager in their local Department of Social Services State and Territory office.

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