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.

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