1.2 Feedback on DARU resources 

DARU provides a range of resources to the Victorian disability advocacy sector. The sections below detail the feedback from stakeholders on each component.


Professional development and training

The professional development seminars and training courses offered by DARU are regarded as useful and relevant. However, stakeholders wanted a greater focus on practical skills that improve advocates’ abilities to do their day-to-day jobs. Training in business skills and organisational improvement was sought by advocacy organisations, such as business management, governance training for boards, IT and data management, risk management and so on. This training is currently being sourced by organisations through private training providers such as the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) and Jobs Australia.


Biennial Conference

More than half the sector is interested in DARU continuing to offer a biennial conference. If continued, the feedback was that it should follow the same format as in the past, with DARU, SARU and DAV each offering a stream of seminars and activities. Advocacy organisations saw the conference as a good tool for discussing common issues in the sector and for networking. In particular, there was consistent feedback that the conference was inclusive of self advocates and people with a disability. Opportunities to improve the conference were largely around practical training on individual, citizen and systemic advocacy, with advanced advocacy sessions offered for experienced advocates.


Code of Conduct

Most of the sector is aware of the Disability Advocacy Code of Conduct developed by DARU and use it as a reference tool or adapt it to their organisation. There was considerable interest in seeing the code updated in 2013 to reflect legislative and policy changes to the complaints process, guardianship laws and the Commonwealth’s introduction of a new quality assurance (QA) system.


Weekly DARU Update

The weekly email update was overwhelmingly supported and is recommended to continue with only minor adjustments. There is scope to highlight opportunities specifically for advocacy organisations and advocates in the weekly email. It is easily the most powerful tool available for advocates to communicate with each other and the sector, as well as for DARU to keep the sector informed.

DARU also posts articles from the weekly email update onto its web page as an online Resource Library. No organisations interviewed were aware of this online resource. At first glance it could be argued that this resource be discontinued; however, it is a useful tool for DARU to keep track of its online resources and takes minimal time to maintain. As such, it should be retained in its current form with no changes beyond any required by DARU itself. Given its value and success to date, the weekly DARU Update email should be promoted more broadly to increase its reach across the sector, the community and government.


Online Directory

DARU hosts an online directory of all disability advocacy organisations operating in Victoria, with contact details.

This resource was not listed in the questionnaire as it was seen as a standard resource that should continue to be provided; however, it was independently raised a number of times in interviews as a valuable resource. A number of advocates use the database to find contact details of other advocacy organisations or for referring enquiries to other organisations that are either more appropriate to respond to a particular issue, or are better located for the person seeking assistance. Some contact details should be updated in the database.



The response from organisations regarding the DARU forums was limited. However, there was a strong appetite for being able to come together to discuss issues of importance to disability and advocacy. Accessibility was an issue for regional organisations that struggle to find the time to attend a forum in Melbourne. Suggestions were to also hold regional forums and for DARU to circulate the key points raised at each forum to the sector.


Resource Library

The DARU resource library holds technical equipment, protocols and literature relevant to disability advocates and people with a disability. The resources can be borrowed from DARU free of charge by advocacy organisations.

Only a few organisations are aware of and making use of the library, and they tend to be self advocacy organisations, accessing it through SARU. It is recommended that a transition plan be prepared for relevant equipment and paper resources to be transferred to the online resources library or archived.


Certificate IV in Disability Advocacy

The Certificate IV in Disability Advocacy was discussed by the project to find out how advocacy organisations would like their advocates to access the course. Most organisations commented that it needs to be delivered online and include some face-to-face learning, given the practical nature of advocacy.

While there is an appetite to enrol in the Certificate IV amongst organisations and advocates, there are some reservations. Advocates are unsure how the course will further their career or assist them in their roles, given they are already working in the field and do not need the qualification to progress in their career. That said, many of the training topics suggested in interviews are modules of the Certificate IV. A communications plan is needed that outlines how the course will assist existing advocates in their profession.


Suggested New Resources

A wide range of new and additional resources were suggested during interviews for DARU to offer organisations, including:

  • online fact sheets on issues relevant to advocates’ day to day jobs
  • a bulletin for Victorian advocates only, flagging issues for their consideration and comment
  • a blog for advocates to discuss the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
  • an NDIS web page with an overview of the facts relevant to advocates and links to external resources
  • new areas of training
  • support to implement the Quality Assurance (QA) requirements of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA)
  • support to undertake systemic advocacy
  • new advocacy networks that link into the wider community sector
  • promotion of the White Ribbon Ambassador campaign amongst disability advocates for the prevention of violence against women in the workplace
  • a communications strategy for DARU resources, to ensure organisations know what is available and how to access it.


Suggestions were also made for resources that DARU already provides, such as:

  • a list of sources of philanthropic funding, which is highlighted in the weekly email update
  • a module on citizen advocacy in the Certificate IV in Disability Advocacy
  • support for multicultural issues within the disability sector and wider community sector.


Other suggestions that do not fall within DARU’s remit but which DARU could assist organisations to source elsewhere were:

  • purchase of group insurance (this is available through the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA) for state funded organisations – http://www.vmia.vic.gov.au/)
  • job matching services between advocates and organisations
  • links to emergency advocates to backfill positions, possibly through a pool of semi-retired advocates
  • a united voice for the sector
  • plain English version of the weekly email update (which will continue to be provided by SARU)
  • data collection (the Office for Disability in the Department of Human Services is looking at ways to improve and support data collection from state funded disability advocacy organisations to inform disability advocacy programs and policies)
  • mentoring or leadership training.