Commitment 6 – AFDO Political Platform
6. Commitment to funding disability advocacy and its Peak body
Disability advocacy is vital to protecting and advancing the rights and interests of Australians with disabilities and contributing to the ongoing quality assurance, improvement of service systems and importantly, ensuring compliance with our United Nations requirements under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disability UNCRPD of which we are a signatory nation.
The Productivity Commission recognised the critical role of independent advocacy with the NDIS. Advocates play a crucial role in not only protecting the rights of individuals but in contributing to the systemic improvement of the NDIS.
In addition, independent advocacy remains instrumental in addressing the inequities and injustices experienced by people with disabilities in other service systems and domains, for instance, education, health, justice and housing, and thereby optimising the intended ripple effects of the NDIS in the lives of people with disabilities.
AFDO and our member, Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA) strongly argue that advocacy should be funded proportionally to disability service delivery expenditure and through a model that values independence and accessibility. To reap the benefits of a strong and healthy advocacy sector, the sector should be represented, supported and strengthened nationally.Although there was a welcome announcement of an extension of National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) funding to June 2020, the Commonwealth’s contribution to disability advocacy via the NDAP is falling in percentage terms relative to its contribution to service delivery, and in recent years also in real terms due to indexation failing to even meet the costs of maintaining operations at existing levels.
The independence of advocacy from service provision is crucial to avoid conflicts of interest. Only truly independent advocates can safeguard and promote the rights and interests of people with disability and adequate funding for independent advocacy organisations, such as provided through NDAP and state and territory advocacy programs, is essential to ensuring independent advocacy is accessible for the most vulnerable people with disability.
Coordinating the focus across the disability advocacy sector is the work of the sector’s national peak body, DANA. Largely unfunded DANA has been supported via AFDO and its membership. As the national advocacy peak, DANA should be appropriately funded via NDAP along with its advocacy members. This needs to be rectified as a matter of urgency.