Strengthening Disability Advocacy Conference 2016

Strengthening Disability Advocacy Conference

Putting rights centre stage

Friday 2 September @ NAB, The Hall, 700 Bourke Street, Docklands


Session summaries now available

Summaries from the conference sessions are now available on this site through the program page and include all the multi-media presentations and links to resources relating to the panel discussions. Click the relevant session title for full summary.


It’s a wrap

As expected, disability advocates were interested in hearing from a range of perspectives and not backwards in confronting the issues that bring to light the glaring inequality that people with disability face on a daily basis.

The Rights Retrospective set the stage by giving homage to those advocates and campaigns that make governments, employers, educators and service providers realise that people with disability are human beings who have the same rights as everyone else. This theme was further under pinned by many of the esteemed speakers on day 2.  We really did put rights on centre stage!

DARU new video ‘Rights Under The UN Convention’ was launched to great acclaim from conference participants.  It really is beautiful so enjoy….


This video was produced by Sarah Barton’s production company, fertile Films.



Setting the scene

image of conference flyer

Click flyer image to download PDF

It’s a huge year for people with disability coming to terms with the impact of the NDIS roll out across Australia. This conference is uniquely positioned to consider the crucial role of disability advocacy in safeguarding the rights of people with disability through this biggest reform since Medicare.

We’re Putting rights centre stage with sessions on promoting rights into the future, the role of advocacy in safeguarding against abuse and neglect, and applying a human rights-based approach to consumer-directed service delivery. Speakers and panelists will provide a range of perspectives gained from lived experience, evidence based research and applied practice in disability advocacy.

Rights Retrospective is the pre-conference event that celebrates the 30-year anniversary of funded disability advocacy in Australia. This multimedia session will take us through the history of the disability rights movement globally,  and remind us of the local campaigns and personalities that laid the foundation for a future where rights are respected for all.

This conference is for anyone who is interested in strengthening and upholding the rights of people with disability. This includes disability advocates, self advocates, people with disability, legal workers, government and non government officers, community workers and allied health professionals.
collage inside NAB 700

This conference is hosted by Disability Advocacy Resource Unit (DARU) with the support of a conference planning committee:

  • Melissa Coe, DARU
  • Natasha Brake, DARU
  • Melanie Muir, Disability Advocacy Victoria
  • Sue Smith, Self Advocacy Resource Unit (SARU)
  • Mary Sayers, Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS)
  • Nick Lawler, representing the Victorian Regional Advocacy Network (VicRAN)
  • Maureen D’Arcy, representing the Local Government Disability Planners Network
  • Peta Ferguson, Brain Injury Matters (representing the consumer voice)

Keep up to date with all the latest conference news on Twitter:




Latest news

Last chance to register for Strengthening Disability Advocacy Conference 2016!

The stage is set and ticket sales have been extended because we really don’t want you to miss out.  You  now have until Friday 26 August to register.

Outside of NAB from spencer street entrance

There are so many wonderful speakers coming to the main day, Friday 2 September, where we will be Putting rights centre stage and we can’t wait for you to meet them all and hear a wide range of perspectives on topics that are close to the hearts of many advocates. It’s a beautiful space and a day out from the usual grind to network and get some fresh ideas might be just the ticket you need!

Rights Tough standing in a grungy alley way. Pictured left to right: Brett Dellavedova, Jason Stacy, Nick Hagiliassis, Mark Di Marco and Merry Prain.

If a whole day of speakers seems overwhelming then join us for the Rights Retrospective, a rare opportunity for advocates to celebrate. It’s a very special pre-conference afternoon on Thursday 1 September with covers performed by The Rights Tough, our in-house live band. You’ll come away with a  new found respect for those advocates and activists who have been trail blazing for decades and make you feel proud of the work that you are doing to take the fight for equality into the future. It’s FREE! and includes afternoon tea.

Of course, we’d love to welcome you on both days.  For full details of tickets and inclusions, visit the conference website’s ticket page.

Looking for assistance at the conference?


FullSizeRenderIf you need assistance to get into the building, or information on where to go, keep your eyes out for our amazing team of volunteers wearing these red vests. They will assist you on the day getting from your taxi or the entrance of the NAB building to the conference rooms and registration desk.

Advocacy beyond 2016

Find out what the future of disability advocacy promotion might llook like in the future at the Strengthening Disability Advocacy Conference on 2 September.

How do advocates bring issues to the notice of the general public and decision makers now that the punk and union movements are less likely  to get behind causes and organising mass rallies? Are the social media platforms and online petitions effective enough to drive the change we need?

Dr George Taleporos will explore these questions and lead a panel discussion with guests:

  • Mary Mallett, CEO of *Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA)
  • Jax (Jacki) Brown, Disability Activist and Performer
  • Susan Arthur, Self Advocate and President of Reinforce
  • Isabelle Oderberg, Social Media Strategist at Australia Red Cross.

Register Now and get your free ticket to the Rights Retrospective while you’re there.

Enter Stage Rights – panellists confirmed

This session at the Strengthening Disability Advocacy Conference will look at applying human rights in person centered service delivery- What role can or should disability advocacy play in the future landscape of consumer directed service delivery? How do we make sure  that mainstream services are made accessible to  people with disability and what does best practice look like?

We are honored to have Robyn Gaile, the previous DARU Coordinator, and current National Manager of Innovative Service Delivery at AFDO facilitating a panel conversation with:

  • Louise Glanville, Deputy CEO, Stakeholder Relations, NDIA
  • Daniel Leighton, CEO of Inclusion Melbourne
  • Christina Ryan, CEO of Advocacy For Inclusion
  • Leonie Dillon, Community Development Project Officer, Barwon Disability Resource Council.

It’s a topic well worth discussing and with this great line-up you’re guaranteed a broad perspective of views and ideas.

Register now

Speakers announced for Strengthening Disability Advocacy Conference 2016

We will certainly be “Putting Rights Centre Stage” at this year’s Strengthening Disability Advocacy conference with a heap of speakers who know a thing or two about rights!

The conference planning committee is very pleased to confirm the following speakers with more to come:

  • Minister Martin Foley MP
  • Mary Mallett, Disability Advocacy Network Australia
  • Jax (Jacki) Brown, Advocate and Performer
  • Daniel Leighton, Inclusion Melbourne
  • Robyn Gaile, Australian Federation of Disability organisations
  • Deborah Glass, Victorian Ombudsman
  • Lauren Henly, Advocate
  • Dr Patsie Frawley, Senior Research Fellow at Monash University
  • Trevor Carroll, Disability Justice Advocacy

We’re also thrilled to announce The Rights Tough, our own in-house band, who will be performing live at the Rights Retrospective. Further details for this pre-conference event coming soon.

More information and to register

Sarah Barton to MC the Rights Retrospective

We are thrilled that Sarah Barton has agreed to be the MC for our special Rights Retrospective event.

Sarah Barton has worked mainly as a documentary writer and director since graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts School of Film and Television in 1992. She is probably best known for her work with No Limits, an award winning community television series (2003),which looks at living life to the fullest with a disability. Sarah was the founding series producer of this long running series which still screens on community television stations across Australia.

Find out more about Sarah…

More conference news >