Disability Services Commission WA
Disability Services Commission
Western Australian government agency
National Disability Advocacy Framework Discussion Paper
Disability Services Commission responses
The Disability Services Commission is the Western Australian State Government agency responsible for advancing opportunities, community participation and quality of life for people with disability.
Established in 1993 under the Disability Services Act 1993, the Commission provides a range of direct services and support and also funds non-government agencies to provide services to people with disability, their families and carers.
The Commission also partners and collaborates with disability sector organisations, business and government, and other stakeholders to improve participation, inclusion and access for people with disability across the community.
1) Do you believe the current Framework encompasses your vision of advocacy in the NDIS environment? If not, what changes are required?
The revised Framework will need to expand to address people with psychosocial disability. This will align with the inclusion of this group of people in the NDIS. The Framework needs to be explicit about to whom it applies.
2) Are the principles of the Framework appropriate for guiding the delivery of advocacy for people with disability in a changing disability environment, including in the context of the NDIS? If not, what changes are required?
The principles are in general sound and applicable to contemporary circumstances. There is an opportunity for the principles to match the outcomes section with regard to choice and pursuit of individual goals. These are central principles in disability reform. A suggestion is to amend ‘principle b’ to:
“Disability advocacy promotes the interests, wellbeing and choice of people with disability and promotes their full and valued inclusion as contributing and participating members of the community who have control over their own lives”
Similarly, the independence from conflict of interest is referred to in the outcomes; however there are no principles which would lead to this desired outcome. The independence of advocacy should be articulated as a principle.
3) Are the outcomes of the Framework still relevant or should different ones be included? If so, what should be included?
Advocacy provided under this Framework must be cognisant of the ability of people who live in regional and remote areas, and / or people of different cultural backgrounds to access disability advocacy. The issue of access to disability advocacy is briefly mentioned in the objectives section, and could also be interpreted from ‘output a’, however greater emphasis is needed in the form of an objective or principle of the Framework.
A guiding theme of the NDIS is that access to supports should not be determined by one’s location or background, and this should apply to disability advocacy as well.
Geographic and cultural barriers to advocacy in Western Australia are a particularly important issue given the state’s size and diversity. The Disability Services Commission has identified access barriers to this demographic, and has made commitments to target improved access where advocacy services are contracted.
4) Are the outputs of the Framework still relevant or should different outputs be included?
The Disability Services Commission believes the outputs are still relevant. In particular, a focus on improving data collection practices and consistency across jurisdictions is essential to understanding how effective advocacy supports are in meeting the needs of people with disability.
It is important that systemic advocacy is retained within the Framework, regardless of the mechanisms in future which may determine systemic outcomes.
5) Does the Framework identify what is needed in the current and future disability environment? If not, what changes are required?
The types of advocacy listed under Attachment A may be useful in identifying certain specialisations within advocacy; however the Commission, with the advice of West Australian service providers, has consciously moved away from segmenting individual advocacy in such a way. Contemporary service practice is multidisciplinary and focuses on the nature of the issue and the individual’s needs rather than the application of a particular style of advocacy.
Legal representation, which has historically been an individual advocacy response, should remain within the Framework, despite it and systemic advocacy being excluded from the NDIS.
6) Do you have any other comments, thoughts or ideas about the Framework?