3. Methodology

This project was undertaken as part of the Victorian Government’s 2012 Innovation Transfer program. A Victorian public servant, Brooke Hamilton,  was assigned to undertake the  stakeholder engagement project for DARU, to improve its relationships with stakeholders and lead to better resources and networks for disability advocacy organisations operating across the state.

The project involved four phases, which are outlined below:


Phase 1

Desktop research was undertaken in July 2012 to understand DARU, its stakeholders, current issues within the disability advocacy sector, and existing research and data on DARU’s engagement with its stakeholders.

The IAP2 (International Association for Public Participation) framework, developed in the United Kingdom and used within multiple Victorian Government departments, has been applied in this project. The framework was chosen because it recommends tools for engaging with different types of stakeholders depending upon their level of power and legitimacy as perceived by other stakeholders, and their relationship to other stakeholders. There are four types of stakeholder categories under the IAP2 framework: decision makers, project partners, key stakeholders, and users.

These four types of stakeholders are described below.

Decision makers 

These are organisations with control over DARU’s budget or decision-making process. There are two organisations that auspice DARU:

DAV, formerly the Victorian Disability Advocacy Network (VDAN)
the Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS).
DARU is funded by the Victorian Office for Disability, which sits within the Department of Human Services. All three organisations sit on DARU’s Project Governance Group (PGG), which meets every two months to discuss DARU’s ongoing work plan.

Project partners 

This category may include organisations in or outside the disability or advocacy sectors. DARU has two primary project partners: DAV and SARU. DARU has a sister relationship with the SARU, which is also funded by the Office for Disability to provide a similar function as DARU for the self advocacy sector in Victoria. DAV is both a decision maker and partner organisation to DARU, because it is responsible for representing the needs of the disability advocacy sector at the PGG.

Key stakeholders 

The key stakeholder category under the IAP2 is not how the term is typically understood. It involves those organisations that could have a significant level of influence over DARU’s ability to achieve its core objective and to be successful in achieving its goals. Examples are the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, the Office of the Public Advocate and the Disability Services Commissioner. This stakeholder category is not the subject of this engagement project.


Users are DARU’s primary stakeholders – its clients. There are 33 funded Victorian disability advocacy organisations operating in Victoria. Organisations can be funded by either the Victorian Office for Disability’s advocacy program or under the National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) operated through the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCHSIA).


Phase 2

Qualitative research was undertaken to investigate the relevance of, and access to, DARU resources by its user stakeholders.

Stakeholders were identified and categorised under the IAP2 framework. Two questionnaires were prepared for three stakeholder groups: one for decision makers and project partners, the second for users (Appendix A).

Twenty-eight of the 33 disability advocacy organisations were interviewed during  August, September and October 2012. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 26 organisations, while two others were interviewed over the phone. Face-to-face interviews were also conducted with the three decision maker organisations that comprise the PGG.

Each stakeholder interviewed was considered in terms of CLIP analysis (collaboration or conflict, legitimacy, interest and power), which is part of the IAP2 framework. The CLIP analysis template is presented at Appendix B and the IAP2 values that were followed throughout this project are listed at Appendix C.


Phase 3

Relationships between stakeholders were identified during interviews to map the sector. This was to determine how DARU can ensure it is reaching all 33 disability advocacy organisations.

Variations between regional and inner and outer metropolitan organisations were considered in order to identify any location-specific issues affecting how organisations access DARU resources.


Phase 4

The key findings were presented in late October and in November 2012.

Presentations were conducted for two purposes:

  • to provide participants with an opportunity to comment on the findings andensure they reflected their positions 
  • to seek comments on the proposed recommendations for each DARU resource.

Good practice is to share the outcomes of the research with participants in the project.