1. Executive Summary

The Disability Advocacy Resource Unit (DARU) was established in 2007 under the Victorian State Disability Plan 2002–12 to provide additional resources to Victoria’s disability advocacy sector.

DARU undertook this stakeholder engagement project over the second half of 2012 to investigate the relevance and accessibility of the resources it is providing to advocacy organisations, people with a disability, and to self advocacy organisations through their relationship with the Self Advocacy Resource Unit (SARU). SARU is the sister organisation to DARU.

Interviews were conducted with 28 disability advocacy organisations operating in Victoria (that is, those funded by the Victorian Office for Disability or the Commonwealth National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP)) over August, September and early October 2012. This represented more than 80 per cent of the sector. It was clear from the vast majority of interviews that DARU is seen as a valuable resource for the Victorian disability advocacy sector. As such, it is vital that DARU remains an independent resource, available to all advocacy organisations operating within Victoria.

The project found, however, that organisations are so poor in resources and time  that they are not able to readily access all the resources available to them through DARU; in particular, professional development, organisational support, and the opportunity to combine advocacy around common issues. The sector needs additional funding and support to maximise that use. Part of the solution may be to provide resources through existing networks.

This is particularly important given there are a number of important issues on the horizon that will impact on people with disabilities and test the capacity of advocacy organisations working with them. These include:

  • introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
  • introduction of Commonwealth Government Quality Assurance (QA) standards
  • a lack of systemic advocacy
  • the Review of the Victorian Charter on Human Rights
  • outcomes from the Victorian Government’s Taxi Inquiry
  • review of the Mental Health Act