What is independent disability advocacy and what are its benefits?
CAGQ supports the following definition of advocacy
Advocacy is speaking, acting or writing with minimal conflict of interest on behalf of the sincerely perceived interests of a disadvantaged person or group, in order to promote, protect and defend their rights and interests by
being on their side and no one elses
being primarily concerned with their fundamental needs
remaining loyal and accountable to them in a way which is emphatic and vigorous and which is likely to be costly to the advocate or advocacy group.
Independent advocacy enables people with a disability to
enjoy the same rights as others
have choices about decisions that affect their lives
pursue their goals and live independent lives
participate fully in their communities
address discrimination and barriers they face in everyday life
negotiate appropriate and equitable access service delivery in government departments such as housing, health, criminal justice, child safety, transport, guardianship and many more settings
Independent advocacy makes positive and sustainable difference to the lives of people with disabilities, removing pressure on government agencies and services. It strengthens the capacity of people to fully participate in family and community and has improved the lives of thousands of people with disability and the wider community.
"It is essential as it ensures people know what is available and possible."
Awesome Advocates - Story from Capricorn Citizen Advocacy
Gale & Michelle
When first approached to become a Citizen Advocate, Michelle had no idea what Citizen Advocacy was about. After a lot of questions and consideration, Michelle decided to meet with Gale (possible protégé). Needless to say, it was a ‘match at first sight’.
Both Michelle and Gale are huge Elvis fans, great common ground! Also, they both love Country Music and have warped senses of humour!
Michelle and Gale go out for dinner on a regular basis. Around Gale’s birthday one year, the Moscow Circus was coming to town. As a surprise for her, Michelle organised tickets. When Michelle told Gale where they were going, Gale’s reaction was not as excited as Michelle thought it would be. When asked, the response was that Gale had never been to a circus. What a privilege for Michelle to take Gale to her first circus! The night began with a taxi ride to the venue and then collecting the tickets. Then, as Gale is in a wheelchair, the ladies were escorted into the tent and had front row seats! Gale enjoyed herself immensely! Eating fairy floss and sitting so close to the action, her excitement was palpable. Michelle’s night was made extra enjoyable from watching Gale’s excitement. That night was Gale’s main topic of conversation for quite a while.
Gale’s life has had a number of challenges and still does. However, now she has someone in her corner. Someone who is not family or paid to be there. She also has someone who calls a spade a spade and does not pussy foot around.