Advocacy Sector Conversation – October 2013

This is the first in the Advocacy Sector Conversations forum series that aims to support disability advocates to regularly get together and discuss matters which directly impact on their work, as well as to provide informal time to network. It was held at the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre on Tuesday 22 October, 2013.


Session 1: Safeguarding the rights of people with disability

John Chesterman, Manager Policy and Education, from the Office of the Public Advocate  delivered a presentation on the Interagency Guidelines for Addressing Violence, Neglect and Abuse (IGUANA) which was launched in May. The guidelines were developed in collaboration with representatives from the disability and mental health sectors, statutory agencies, family violence and sexual assault services, and the Victorian Police.

Resources from this session include:



Session 2: Building partnerships

Wendy Sanderson, Senior Adviser Strategic projects, from VEOHRC provided an overview of the Commission’s current projects. She also spoke about the work of the Commission’s disability reference group and how people can become involved.

Resources from this session include:



Session 3: Developing disability advocacy

Melanie Muir, Senior Advocate at Leadership Plus and Disability Advocacy Victoria Board member, and Jai Phillips, Advocate at Communication Rights Australia,delivered a presentation on the value of a peer network for disability advocates. The network has been established to support advocates to learn from each other and provide a forum for debriefing and building resilience.

Discussion focussed on the rationale for providing a network specifically for the practice of independent advocacy. Other networks specific to parents are provided in the resources below.

Resources from this session include:



Session 4: Q&A with Office for Disability

This is an open forum to allow participants to raise any issues of concern with representatives from the Office for Disability. Panel members were Michael Cromie, Acting Manager and Felix Neighbour, Senior Project Officer.

Key topics of discussion included:

  • Grants to improve data collection capacity of up to $3,000 per agency are being open through an expression of interest process.
  • State Disability Plan.
  • The role of Victorian State Government with the NDIS.
  • National Disability Strategy – is this still on the state agenda?

Follow up actions arising from this session to be presented at the next forum include:

  • Office to provide further details on state involvement with the NDIS.



Evaluation Summary

DARU is delighted that so many people attended our first Advocacy Sector Conversations forum. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to participate and make the day such a success.

In total 14 people completed and submitted an evaluation form, comprising 45% of the 31 who attended. The DARU Update was the most common way that respondents found out about the forum (78%).

Overall people were satisfied or very satisfied with the catering, venue and accessibility of the venue. Most people enjoyed the catering with comments that the good food encouraged an excellent opportunity for networking during lunch. Less satisfying was the room temperature with people saying it was a bit cold after lunch.

Some people felt that information provision in the lead up and on the day could be improved e.g. presenters notes readily available, better directional signage at the venue and more details about the attendant care and other access requirements provided.

The sessions on Safeguarding the rights of people with a disability (John Chesterman from the Office of the Public Advocate presentation on the Inter-agency guidelines for addressing violence, neglect and abuse) and Q&A with the Office For Disability rated as the most relevant and engaging.

There were some comments that the Victorian Equal opportunity and Human Rights Commission presentation in the Building Partnerships session covered too many areas and should have been limited to the specific projects being worked on by the presenter.

There were mixed reviews about the Peer Support Network presentation delivered in the Developing Advocacy session. Some respondents felt the session was under prepared and didn’t acknowledge the many ways peer support can be delivered.

Most people commented that they had sufficient opportunity to provide input into sessions. However, there was a general sense that the specific needs and interests of professional disability advocates were sometimes overshadowed by the needs and interests of other stakeholders.

Suggested topics for future Forums included:

  • Role of various Ombudsman
  • Consumer Affairs
  • Overview of the programs and services provided by state and federally funded advocacy organisations.

A big thanks to those of you who completed an evaluation form. It really helps us to ensure that we provide forums

Tuesday 22nd October, 2013

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