The DANA submission to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (the Royal Commission or DRC) about independent disability advocacy is informed by the collective knowledge and experience of member organisations. These organisations work directly with people with disability deploying various models and styles of advocacy to support them in upholding their rights and promoting their safety. Through consultation with its network of members DANA is able to identify systemic issues faced by people with a very broad spectrum of disabilities whose needs are poorly met by current systems and environments.
At present across Australia, insufficient, fragmented and insecure resourcing severely limits disability advocacy provision and there are major gaps, deficiencies and systemic issues that prevent access to independent advocacy for all people with disability. This carries multiple individual, community, societal and economic costs and poses major risks to people and diminishes the upholding of their human rights.
By contrast, the economic and other benefits of disability advocacy far exceed the economic costs. Advocacy facilitates more efficient communities and government, often playing a constructive or a preventative role, through intervening in situations before they progress to crisis or further harm.
DANA can envision an Australia in which people with disability have equal access to participating fully in communities and to feel safe and enjoy equality before the law by being able to access independent advocacy when and where they need it. Unfortunately, notwithstanding the Australian Government’s stated commitment to upholding the rights of people with disability, the existing under-resourced sector cannot guarantee that this support is in fact available for people across the country.
Commonwealth, state and territory governments need to work collaboratively to establish comprehensive and consistent funding and reporting arrangements to ensure that all Australians with disability have access to advocacy to eliminate their risks of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, and to ensure access to the ordinary aspects of life enjoyed by the rest of society that are currently denied to many.
In addition to exploring the context, key barriers and challenges for the disability advocacy sector, this submission outlines our recommendations to support fulfilling the obligations inherent in the implementation of the purpose and principles of Australia’s Disability Strategy (2021-2031) and National Disability Advocacy Framework (2022-2025) to achieve desired outcomes for people with disability throughout Australia. In particular, the recommendations seek to eliminate their risks of experiencing violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation.
Read the full submission:
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[Please note, submissions to the DRC closed 31 December 2022.]
If you would like to read other submissions DANA has made to the Disability Royal Commission, including about safeguarding, segregation and other issues, visit Voices of Advocacy.