National Disability Advocacy Program


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

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
  • Ensuring duty of care at all times.

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

  • Citizen advocacy: matches people with disability with volunteers.
  • Family advocacy: helps parents and family members advocate on behalf of the person with disability for a particular issue.
  • Individual advocacy: upholds the rights of individual people with disability by working on discrimination, abuse and neglect.
  • Legal advocacy: upholds the rights and interests of individual people with disability by addressing the legal aspects of discrimination, abuse and neglect.
  • Self advocacy: supports people with disability to advocate for themselves, or as a group.
  • Systemic advocacy: seeks to remove barriers and address discrimination to ensure the rights of people with disability.

NDAP agencies can also assist with issues that may arise with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) or with service providers.

Disability Advocacy Fact Sheet

The Disability Advocacy Fact Sheet articulates the agreed position between the Department of Social Services and the National Disability Insurance Agency. It outlines what disability advocacy is, why it is important and why independence matters.

Service Area

Agencies are funded to provide disability advocacy support in specific geographic areas.

The Disability Advocacy Finder is a web-based application that has been developed to assist people with disabilities, carers and their families, to search for Commonwealth and state and territory government funded disability advocacy agencies.


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;
    • with specific issues such as housing, education or employment;
    • from Diverse Cultural and Linguistic backgrounds; or
    • from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island backgrounds.

NDAP and the NDIS

NDAP agencies based in NDIS sites may have additional roles, such as assisting people through the planning and internal review processes with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). Funding has been provided via the NDIS Appeals program to support people with disability who seek an external review of NDIA decisions through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which is an important mechanism to ensure that decisions are fair and robust.

NDAP Program Guidelines

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 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 DSA, as part of the Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment Bill (SSOLA Bill), to mandate the introduction of a Quality Assurance system for NDAP.

The Department of Social Services (DSS) has developed a suite of Program Guidelines which provides information about each program that provides grants funding, and the suite of Activities that contribute to that Program. Information about the Disability and Carer Support Activity, which includes the NDAP, is available in the Disability, Mental Health and Carers Program Guidelines.

NDAP Operational Guidelines

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

Target Group

The target group for advocacy support provided by NDAP agencies, as required under section 8 of the 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.

Norfolk Island Advocacy and Information Support Pilot Project

People with disability have access to effective disability advocacy through the NDAP. Norfolk Island residents will now receive the same opportunities following the establishment of the Norfolk Island Advocacy and Information Support Pilot Project. The Project will ensure residents:

  • understand their rights
  • are provided with referrals for advocacy support
  • receive education and resources on rights and complaints processes.

Assessments of eligibility for NDIS packages is ongoing and a whole of Australian Government approach will see further advances made in the areas of employment, child and family wellbeing, and training. This will increase residents’ awareness of Australian Government funded disability advocacy support.

Further information about this Project can be obtained by contacting Disability Advocacy NSW by telephoning 1300 365 085 or emailing

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, Employment 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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