The Advocacy Standards Project

A joint project between DANA and OPAN

The Advocacy Standards Project aims to develop an Australian standard that has formal recognition and standing, that is auditable and capable of being deployed across the funded Advocacy sector in Australia as the key benchmark of quality and the driver of continuous improvement and development to ensure consistent and quality services to people we serve.

The Standard is referred to as MB-031, and has members from OPAN, DANA, disability and older persons’ peak bodies, research bodies, and, of course, Advocacy agencies who will be the users of the Standard when complete. It also has officials from the Departments of Social Services and Health and Aged Care.

What is the project going to achieve?

In the wake of the report from the Aged Care Royal Commission, the role of Advocacy for older people became more prominent, and this was reinforced during the COVID pandemic and its devastating impact on older people. The Disability Royal Commission is also highlighting the vulnerability of people with disability in their communities and in some specialist service settings, focusing the need for strong independent Advocacy. The two peak bodies representing Advocacy, the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) and the Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA) agreed to work together to create a new Australian Standard specific to Advocacy for Aged Care and Disability, which can be used strengthen and continuously improve Advocacy, and enable agencies to demonstrate to government departments that they are achieving outcomes for the funding they receive.

Once the Standard is approved then there is a separate process that turns the Standard into a practical and applicable process that can be implemented on the at service outlets. This will be undertaken in conjunction with JAZ-ANZ.

Read the Advocacy Standards FAQs, which explains what it is intended to achieve and how it is meant to be applied to ensure quality in the delivery of Advocacy. This is also available in Easy Read here.

How can I can have my say on the new standards?

We want to hear from you about this new standard. You can use one or both of the following options to have your say:

  1. You can go straight to the Public Comment page on the Standards Australia web site here. Account set up and log on instructions can be found here.
  2. You can attend one of the OPAN or DANA online or face to face sessions that will be held in Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne, and two online sessions run by Capacity Services. Please see below for how to register for one of these. The numbers have been capped to ensure we can hear from everyone at each session. With the face to face sessions, the morning session will be for people who use Advocacy Services and the afternoon session will be for Advocacy Service providers. Once the session has been held, we will feed the information we receive directly into Standards Australia’s Public Comment document. That way everything will be in one place, ready for the Technical Committee to consider and vote on.

More about DANA and OPAN’s face to face or online consultations:

There will be two interactive online sessions, for everyone, and six face to face sessions (Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane*), three for providers and three for users of Advocacy.

Morning session: 10 am- 12 noon for people using or seeking advocacy services
Afternoon session: 1pm – 3pm for advocates

*Brisbane Only
Morning session: 10 am- 12 noon for advocates
Afternoon session: 1pm – 3pm for people using or seeking advocacy services

Virtual sessions:

  • Wednesday, 1 November 2023: event now closed. Want to view the presentation? Click here.
  • Wednesday, 15 November 2023: register here >

These consultations will feed into the Standards Australia process directly.

Read more information about the public consultation process here, which explains how this process is meant to be applied to ensure quality in the delivery of Advocacy.

$100 payment is available to people with lived experience of ageing, disability, or their care who attend the face-to-face consultation. The payment will be made to the first 20 people to register and attend a  face to face consultation. People who attend as part of their paid employment are not eligible for payment.

Project Coordination and Development

Michael Bleasdale of Capacity Services Ltd is leading the project, alongside his colleague Murray Coates, and their contact details are available at the end of this newsletter. Michael has worked, and continues to work, in the Disability Advocacy sector for many years, and has experience of Advocacy for Older People as the former CEO of ADACAS in the ACT. He has also held roles on the Boards of the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) and the Disability Advocacy Network of Australia (DANA). Murray has worked in the disability sector for over 30 years, and in other community service roles in four states and territories, as well as holding a number of roles with a national focus.

Michael’s role in this project is to coordinate all elements of it, and to guide the development of the Standard itself through the Technical Committee and Working Groups which have been established by Standards Australia (see above) and have been responsible for providing the expert content for the Standard.

Progress to date

Since the February Newsletter most of the focus has been on drafting the Standard. The Technical Committee asked for Working Groups to be formed, made of up people working as Advocates in both the aged care and disability Advocacy sectors, and people who use Advocacy in both sectors. Three Working Groups were established to assist the Technical Writer appointed to us by Standards Australia with the expert content required to make sure quality in Advocacy was understood and captured in the text. The three Working Groups each met on three occasions to discuss and draft criteria which cover the following aspects of the Standard:

  1. Delivering Advocacy in a human rights framework
  2. Service design, access and delivery
  3. Governance, quality and systemic advocacy

These groups have met as a single group in the past week to consider the changes that are still recommended for the Standard as a whole, and continue to provide important input to the wording.

The Technical Committee has met on four occasions now, and has been making decisions about the wording of the Standard and suggesting work to be done by the Working Groups. This process is nearing an end, with one or two more Technical Meetings to take place later in July to consider the Standard in its current form, and to determine whether or not it is ready to be released for public consultation, a critical part of the development process. The Technical Committee overseeing the development of the Advocacy.

What Next?

The graphic below indicates where we are on the journey to develop the Standard. We are nearing the end of our drafting phase, which will be followed by a short period of editing by Standards Australia, after which the draft Standard will be released publicly for the first time for comment. This period last 9 weeks, and a formal consultation process is established by Standards Australia which allows anybody to provide their feedback.


Michael Bleasdale
Project Leader

Kate Bowditch
Standards Australia Project Manager