What disability advocates do

Disability advocacy may include:

  • Providing information to people with disability about their human rights and  identifying instances of discrimination
  • Assisting people with disability to uphold their rights by speaking with and writing to people and organisations to raise awareness of problems and seek solutions
  • Helping people with disability negotiate complaints processes or legal action to enforce their human rights
  • Writing submissions and lobbying government to make changes that promote and protect the rights of people with disability
  • Campaigning for social change by speaking to the media to raise awareness and highlight situations where people with disability are treated unfairly


Disability advocates often require a variety of skills, including:

  • Disability awareness, how to communicate with and support people with different disabilities
  • Understanding laws, legal instruments and jurisdictions
  • Understanding processes within oversight and complaints handling bodies
  • Applying a human rights approach to advocacy
  • Negotiation skills
  • Lobbying and running effective campaigns

Professional disability advocates often develop these skills through in-house customised training within disability advocacy organisations, or through a range of community-based short training programs.


Disability advocacy is not:

  • Providing counselling
  • Making decisions for another person
  • Providing mediation
  • Providing case management


Advocates can speak out for themselves or for others who are at risk of being disadvantaged or treated improperly as a result of a disability. This can include missing out on jobs or services, being pressured to make a decision or choice, or being abused or neglected.