15633 – Individual submission

Advocacy is a calling, adding volume to the voiceless. Speaking as a person with a disability who has found himself working as a disability advocate, I cannot stress how fulfilling the role is. Nor can I adequately describe how vital it is to have people like me in the roles. It is not possible for anyone to adequately advocate for us without having experienced the discrimination, abuse, neglect from family, teachers, friends, employers, police, doctors and lawyers. Even as someone working with a service that is specifically empowered to advocate for people with a disability, I am singled out with some regularity for the things I struggle with because of my disability. It is all too common – people want to help until it is inconvenient, or they feel like the assistance I receive somehow makes what I do less meaningful, or too easy.

If Advocacy is allowed to slip into a quasi-case-manager/legal representation space that essentially requires all of a Health Sciences degree, Law Degree, MBA and Political Sciences in order to function, it will rip away any chance people with a disability have of even being in the conversation.
There is too much diasporic decision making in jurisdictions around Australia that are not inline with best-practice or current research.
I would like to see a national body, similar to a registration agency, that is made of people like myself with living experience of living with a disability – like a publicly funded policy think tank or similar to the human rights commission, perhaps even as an offshoot. To both oversee the provision of Advocacy for people with a disability, raising awareness of all people with a disability as well as collect the data and respond faster with recommendations than whatever is happening at the moment.