What is Advocacy?

Self, Family, Individual u0026 Systemic

What is Advocacy?

What is the difference?

Advocacy for you

Policy and Advocacy is a core element of the work SCIA does. Advocacy can be defined as speaking, acting or writing on behalf of the interest of disadvantaged individuals or group.

Spinal Cord Injuries Australia’s Policy and Advocacy team is based in Sydney, Northern Rivers and the Hunter region of New South Wales and help people with disabilities, family and carers who struggle with receiving the adequate supports they need.

Our Advocacy team is always here to help you. If you need assistance in any of these aspects contact us through our Policy & Advocacy Request Form.

SCIA helps advocate for needs in four main aspects:

Self Advocacy
Supports people with disability to advocate for themselves. or as part of a group. As part of self advocacy, we often deliver training sessions to people with disabilities who work in Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE).

Family Advocacy
Our Policy and Advocacy team help parents and family members advocate on behalf of the person in their family who has a disability. Often family members of people with disabilities are already facing a myriad of issues that require advocacy, so our advocates take the strain off families and take on some of the issues until a resolution is found.

Individual Advocacy
We also provide targeted advocacy support to individuals who may be experiencing difficulty in areas such as service provision, access to housing and accommodation, accessing suitable transport, getting access and eligibility to income support or employment services. Our team of advocates help clients navigate these processes to get issues addressed and pursue better outcomes to a degree that meets people’s needs.

Representative Advocacy
Representative advocates listen to the needs of members, clients and the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) and Neuro community to:

  • inform advocacy priorities,
  • facilitate members of the community to get involved in advocacy,
  • share advocacy updates.

Representative Advocacy is a NSW service funded by the Department of Communities and Justice under the Disability Advocacy Futures Program that promotes and represents the views and interests of people with SCI and other neurological conditions, their families and carers and the SCI and neurological conditions community.

Consumer engagement underpins the work of Representative Advocacy to ensure that advocacy remains relevant and accessible. To ensure that consumers can inform, influence and guide SCIA’s representative advocacy activities, Representative Advocacy is supported by the Representative Advocacy Advisory Group made up of people with a lived experience of disability.

Our Representative Advocacy team is based in Sydney. We hold Online Advocacy Network Forums; face-to-face advocacy catch ups and Advocacy Education and Awareness Workshops. Whether you are a person with a disability, family member, carer, allied health, or service provider we want to empower you to be your best advocate.

First Nations Representative Advocacy

Aboriginal and Torris Strait peoples with SCI and other neurological conditions sometimes face additional advocacy barriers and have specific advocacy needs. SCIA has a specialist First Nations Advocate who is committed to building stronger connections with and effectively supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as well as identifying specialist advocacy needs.

For more information about the work of the Representative Advocacy team and how we can support you, contact us at representative@scia.org.au

Systemic Advocacy
The policy work we do do is broad and covers national, state and local issues in any domain that affects the lives of people with spinal cord injury and other disabilities. Any policy decision or regulation or law that has a negative impact on the lives of the disability community, be it access or inclusion or participation, is likely to have an influence on the work that the team do counter this. This comes in many forms such as lobbying decision-makers and funders (government and non-government) to pursue changes.

Governments often hold inquiries where significant policy decisions or changes or reforms are being considered such as is happening at the moment with the proposed implementation of independent assessments within the NDIS. In response, we write submissions to such inquiries to highlight our concerns, how things can be improved, and what impacts decisions are likely to have on the people we represent. SCIA is operating to create change and influence key decision-makers to have as broad an impact on all people with disability. This includes attending public hearings as expert witnesses; writing to politicians and government departments and agencies; holding public office bearers to account when decisions are made that negatively impact people’s lives.

Our Advocacy team is always here to help you. If you need assistance in any of these aspects contact us through our Policy & Advocacy Request Form.

The difference we make

Our Stories

Family Advocacy – Case Study
A mother approached our Alstonville office seeking advocacy to navigate issues she was facing with Family and Community Services (FACS) Housing.

The family included a mother, three daughters and a family dog. One of her daughters has Cerebral Palsy (CP).

At the time, the family were living in a rundown house located in one of the worst streets in their region. The property had undergone seven renovations (by FACS) in two years, specific to the bathroom due to the property sinking at the edges. The renovations were unsuccessful and this caused the hobless shower to fill the bathroom with water, and flow into the kitchen and living areas.

This was a daily issue that the family faced. The mother was told by FACS that after seven renovations there was nothing further that could be done to make the property safe and hazard free.

As the waitlist time on a housing transfer is between five to 10 years in the area, this became a daily risk for the daughter who struggles with balance due to her disability.

Our Alstonville advocacy team intervened on behalf of the mother. Our team made representations to the local member and to the minister. This didn’t have the yielding effect expected for the family and there was a considerable frustration from everyone.

Over the next three years the family was flagged on the priority housing list where both the mother and our advocacy team would consistently be told that there weren’t any suitable properties available.

In the third year, at property with Many Rivers Regional Housing Aboriginal Corporation was flagged with the mother and the client files were transferred from FACS to Aboriginal Housing for consideration. Our supported and advocated on behalf of the mother throughout this waiting period.

A week before Christmas the mother had received news they have been successful and allocated to a new property – somewhere safe for everyone and somewhere they can call home.