Advocacy is inevitable - if you love or care about someone with developmental disability
Advocacy sharpens your capacity to critically view what is just and unjust within our communities and what must be done to foster needed social change.
It is the experience of many people with disability and their families that the ordinary good things in life, that many of us take for granted, don’t just happen for people with disability.
The familiar experience of families when trying to advocate for their family member to have these ordinary typical things rests on the fact that our communities and society does not yet fully value individuals with developmental disability, and inclusion is not typical or ordinary.
People often think of advocacy in terms of legal advocacy. Family Advocacy is concerned with social advocacy.
Our work is directed towards enabling and supporting families to speak up for opportunities for people with disability to enjoy the same environments, lifestyle and living conditions as are available to the majority of Australians.
What is social advocacy?
Speaking, acting and/or writing on behalf of the interests and rights of, and justice for, a person or group of people
In order to enhance and defend the roles of:
- Human being
- Developing person
With minimum conflict of interest. In a way which is vigorous and which is likely to be costly to advocates.
In the video clip below you can hear from John Armstrong and Bob Lee, who both have extensive knowledge and experience in working with people with disability and their families in a variety of roles but in particular as advocates and citizen advocacy.
Advocacy for People with Disability
Bob Lee and John Armstrong discuss some issues concerning advocacy for vulnerable people with disability
Why advocacy by families is important
Families can actively and powerfully shape society. Taking action to improve the lives of people with disability or sustain positive life experiences (e.g., inclusive education, living in one's own home, etc.) creates a better community for all.
Advocacy by families often springs from a vision of what they want to see for their child’s future. This has the power to sustain activism efforts even amidst challenges.
We believe that families are most likely to take up the role of advocacy for their family member with disability and act in their interests and no one else’s.
Taking on the role of an advocate does not come easily to everybody. For some, exhibiting confidence when advocating about something they feel deeply about is not an easy task; however, the more experience you have as an advocate for your family member, the more self- assurance you are likely to gain.
Michael Kendrick describes in his article The Natural Authority of Families some of the strengths that give authority to families when they are acting in the interest of their family member. In the clips below, Dad Alex Purvis discusses how and why he advocates on behalf of his son Dan.
The Alberta Association for Community Living in Canada has put together a Pocket Guide to Advocacy to support and provide families advice on the role families have as advocates for the family member with disability.
Family Advocacy has made available an advocacy booklet: Advocacy - tools and tips. Joyce Mitchell also shares ideas around around assertive communication in her article Mobilise.
In this news article, An Interview with Linda Till, Linda is a parent who describes her experiences on advocating on behalf of her daughter, and provides invaluable advice for parents who are experiencing a similar situation.
Meetings: In this video clip Bob Lee and John Armstrong discuss ideas and strategies for Advocacy for people with disability inmeeting situations.