Individual Advocacy

Individual advocacy

Individual advocacy is one-on-one support provided to a person to prevent or address instances of unfair treatment or abuse. Individual advocacy helps make sure the voice of the person with disability is heard on a particular issue that matters to them. Individual advocacy supports people to express their views and concerns, access information and services, and explore choices and options.

VALID provides individual advocacy for adults (people aged 18 and over) with intellectual disability who are eligible or receive disability support services. Our advocacy support is short term and related to the specific issue that we have been asked to help with.

VALID is funded by the Victorian Government as a peak state-wide advocacy body.

Individual advocacy from VALID:

  1. Prioritises people who need urgent support
  2. Includes support with all kinds of issues
  3. Uses specialist advocacy methods
  4. Might include referrals to other organisations

VALID prioritises people who need urgent support

VALID is only funded to assist a limited number of new clients. All new clients must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  1. A client must be an adult (a person aged 18 or over)
  2. A client must have an intellectual disability, according to the Victorian Disability Act 2006 (see definition below)
  3. A client must be eligible for, or be receiving, disability support services

This means that VALID does not have the resources to provide individual advocacy support to every person with disability that asks for assistance. If we are unable to provide one-to-one advocacy VALID always provides support for people to access advocacy from another organisation, as well as information, access to training, or peer support.

Definition of Intellectual Disability From the 2006 Disability Act, intellectual disability is defined as the concurrent existence of; (a) significant sub-average general intellectual functioning; and (b) significant deficits in adaptive behaviour - each of which became manifest before the age of 18 years.

People need individual advocacy for different reasons

VALID assists people with all kinds of issues and particularly those who don't have access to a more local advocacy service. Examples of specific issues or challenges people may seek advocacy support may include:

  • NDIS matters
  • Difficulties with community-based programs
  • Access to or issues within disability accommodation services
  • Issues regarding disability respite services
  • Concerns about or working better with disability staff support
  • The Victorian Department of Health & Human Services
  • Linking with or accessing suitable healthcare facilities

We also support people when registering complaints with the Disability Services Commissioner or working with the Office of the Public Advocate regarding Administration and Guardianship matters.

Advocacy Method

VALID uses different advocacy methods depending on the situation and requests from the person with disability we are supporting. VALID always tries to support people to speak for themselves rather than speak for them.

VALID provides direct support and indirect support. Direct Support is support directly given to a person with disability:

Standing Behind is when VALID provides advice and guidance to support people to assert their rights, recognise responsibilities and achieve their goals by themselves.

Standing Beside is when VALID works alongside people to assist them in raising and addressing their issues effectively. This means coming to meetings and being part of discussions as requested.

Standing Before is when VALID represents a person to defend and promote the person's rights and interests. This means that the person we are supporting asks us to attend meetings and make decisions for them. 

Indirect support is when VALID provides support, advice and assistance to support the natural role played by families advocating for a family member with a disability. However, we do not advocate for the needs of the family itself.

Referrals

Where a person who asks for individual advocacy support does not meet VALID's criteria, a referral to another organisation will be made where possible.

People under the age of 18 will be typically referred to: The Association for Children with Disabilities or Youth Disability Advocacy Service.

VALID usually refers all legal advice or support in court matters to: Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Services. (03) 5227 3338 or Toll Free on 1800 014 111. Please note that Villamanta are based in Geelong, but are available to assist with court matters based in and around the City of Melbourne when possible.

VALID also maintains an up-to-date list of Victorian advocacy organisations.