Executive Summary

Disability advocacy is acting, speaking or writing to promote, protect and defend the human rights of people with disability. Disability advocacy helps ensure the human and legal rights of people with disability are promoted and protected so they can fully participate in the community.

The work of disability advocacy organisations is not always well understood. This document seeks to provide information about disability advocacy using data provided by the Victorian Government’s Office for Disability from the organisations it funds for disability advocacy.


Data from disability advocacy organisations indicated over the four years from July 2012 to June 2016:

  • The most common advocacy topics reported were around disability services and the NDIS, education, accommodation, legal issues and health, in order of frequency
  • The number of people requesting disability advocacy around disability services and the NDIS increased by 70 per cent in 2014-15 and 2015-16 compared with the previous two years
    Requests for assistance with legal issues more than doubled over the four year period
  • There was a decline in requests for assistance with family issues, and leisure and recreation issues over the four year period.


Over the same period, disability advocacy organisations reported providing advocacy to:

  • 892 people in any given 3-month period
  • Slightly more men and boys than women and girls
  • Rising numbers of young people with disability aged 15-24
  • 3.3% were from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background, and 9.3% were from a culturally or linguistically diverse background.


Types of disability advocacy

  • Self-advocacy: undertaken by a person with disability representing themselves. Support and training for self-advocacy is available through community-based groups
  • Individual advocacy: undertaken by a professional advocate, under direction by a person with a disability to prevent or address instances of unfair treatment or abuse
  • Group advocacy: involves advocating for a group of people with disability, such as a group of people living in shared accommodation
  • Citizen advocacy: where community volunteers advocate for a person with a disability, such as an intellectual disability, over the long-term, supported by a Citizen Advocacy organisation
  • Systemic advocacy: involves working for long-term social changes to ensure the collective rights and interests of people with disability are served through legislation, policies and practices
  • Legal advocacy: where a lawyer provides legal representation in the justice system, or gives legal advice to people with disability about discrimination and human rights