As the landmark review of disability advocacy in NSW continues, PDCN have been both facilitating and taking part in vital consultations with the office of the Ageing and Disability Commission. Through this process we are working to ensure that all decisions on future advocacy funding structure are informed by sound principles and have the needs of people with disability at the forefront.
To assist the Commission in understanding the importance of advocacy to those who need it, we facilitated a consultation between a group of people with disability and the Commission at the PDCN offices last week. This was an opportunity for people with lived experience of engagement with advocacy services to provide genuine firsthand experience and knowledge on the vital role that advocacy has played in their lives.
Discussion ranged across a comprehensive series of topics. One topic discussed at length was the need for a funding structure that delivers positive outcomes across all types of advocacy: systemic, individual, citizen, family, legal, representational and self-advocacy. Increasing the capacity of individual advocacy organisations with additional funding was also a desired outcome from a restructure, as people seeking help from these organisations are too often being told they are ‘full’. And the current shortfall in all forms of advocacy in rural and regional areas was also cited as a major area for improvement, as services in these areas are currently slim to non-existent.
From PDCN’s perspective it was also interesting to hear that systemic organisations such as ours are valued for the sense of belonging individuals feel as members of our organisation. They feel our independence and expertise allows them to get on with their lives whilst we work on the issues that affect them. This takes a huge stress off their lives and the lives of their families, to whom this work would otherwise fall.
Then on Friday 25 October PDCN and other advocacy sector organisations took part in a roundtable meeting with WestWood Spice, the consultancy group working with the Ageing and Disability Commissioner on producing the Review report. This discussion was a deep dive into the key principles of disability advocacy, specifically what we believe is needed to comprehensively and appropriately assist people with disability in NSW for the foreseeable future. One positive sign to emerge from this meeting is that Commissioner is clearly looking to set in place an advocacy funding structure that will be in place for the long-term – ten years or more!
We’ve also completed PDCN’s formal submission to the advocacy review, which you can read HERE.