I would like to submit for your consideration a summary report of an ARC Linkage grant that explored the significance of self advocacy to the social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. The various components of this study have demonstrated the significant contribution that self-advocacy groups make to the social inclusion of individual members and in furthering the inclusive capacity of communities. Self-advocacy groups are hybrid organisations with few parallels.
•They are not simply about advocacy – standing up for the right of their members or supporting people to speak up and stand up for their own rights.
•They are not simply peer support or self-help groups – sharing experiences of occupying a common social position and fostering the emotional growth, skills and well-being of members.
•They are not simply one of the many clubs or societies that make up civic society and constitute the glue that binds communities together – offering membership to those with common interests or shared passions, opportunities to meet people and make friends and a sense of belonging and participation in meaningful activities.
Self-advocacy groups do all of these things well and they are fundamentally important to the social inclusion of people with intellectual disability. They have the potential to transform individuals’ lives and contribute to social change in society. Based on rich qualitative data this study has provided the evidence for these claims and considers the challenges they face in thriving in new context of the NDIS