4. Mapping stakeholders

DARU is tasked through its terms of reference to resource and support funded Victorian disability advocacy organisations in Victoria. As at October 2012, there were 33 government funded disability advocacy organisations operating in Victoria. Neither SARU nor DARU undertake advocacy so they are not counted in the list. The disability advocacy sector is concentrated in Melbourne, with:

  • 13 organisations located in inner Melbourne
  • 12 located in outer Melbourne
  •   8 located across regional Victoria.

Note: The Disability Discrimination Legal Service (DDLS) has not been included among the 33 organisations that make up DARU’s client stakeholders as it does not receive funding from either the National Disability Advocacy Program or the Victorian Office for Disability. DDLS is a partner and decision maker stakeholder given its role on the DARU Project Governance Group (PGG), DAV Board and past collaboration with DARU in delivering training to the sector. DDLS was interviewed as part of the project, and its comments and suggestions – which were largely in line with their counterparts across the metropolitan sector – have been provided to DARU. The DDLS was appointed to represent DAV on the PGG in October 2012.

The types of advocacy undertaken by the 33 client organisations include:

  • citizen advocacy
  • individual advocacy
  • legal advocacy
  • self advocacy
  • systemic advocacy
  • family advocacy

independent advocacy provision by disability service providers.
The initial review of stakeholders found that the majority of disability advocacy organisations are involved with the intellectual disability sector, and almost all provide individual advocacy. Only a small number advocate at a systemic level – typically through a public inquiry process or a formal submission to a public inquiry. Advocacy, by its nature, is focused on the issues of individuals and specific types of disability. This situation may contribute to difficulties experienced by the sector in developing a united voice on common issues of concern.

A number of networks of advocacy organisations operate across Victoria. No single network covers the entire sector. It is important to understand how the various 33 organisations fit together across the sector to ensure DARU is able to effectively engage with the entire sector.

Most Victorian disability advocacy organisations are involved with two or more networks within the sector. Table 4.1 is provided at the end of this chapter to illustrate the cross-over of networks amongst organisations.

The networks listed in Table 4.1 are:

  • DAV – Disability Advocacy Victoria
  • VicRAN – Victorian Rural Advocacy Network
  • CAN – Citizen Advocacy Network
  • QAN – Quality Assurance Network
  • QIP – Quality Improvement Partnership
  • PSN – Peer Support Network
  • DARU – Disability Advocacy Resource Unit
  • SARU – Self Advocacy Resource Unit

The funding source (FaCHSIA or the Office for Disability) are also listed to provide a comprehensive picture of the relationships across the Victorian disability advocacy sector. In talking with the disability advocacy sector, it is clear that there are many informal partnerships between various organisations, where they have similar ideologies.

There does not appear to be any distinction in the types of relationships between Victorian-funded and FaCHSIA-funded organisations. Relationships appear to be based upon being located in a similar geographical region or similar approaches to advocacy. Furthermore, there appears to be no correlation between the available resources and influence of an organisation within the sector to its funding source. On this point, there is no distinction between the resource needs and accessibility requirements of Commonwealth or State funded disability advocacy organisations. Organisations that are funded by either the Commonwealth or the State or both are equally resource- and time-poor, requiring targeted support for capacity building.

State-wide advocacy organisations tend to be centrally located in Melbourne, with the notable exception of Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service. While most state-wide organisations are active across the state, some regional organisations commented that state-wide organisations tend not to actively provide advocacy outside Melbourne. This issue was confirmed by some state-wide Melbourne-based organisations that were concerned that resource constraints meant they are not able to adequately provide advocacy in regional Victoria. This issue highlights the resource-poor nature of the sector and the need to directly fund regional advocacy organisations to ensure advocacy services are being provided across the state.

Each of these networks and relationship groups are described in text below.



DARU provides resources to 32 of the 33 disability advocacy organisations operating in Victoria. Combined, DAV, VicRAN and the Citizen Advocacy Network represent the bulk of the sector. DARU already actively engages with VicRAN, attending every second regional meeting to provide training and information on available DARU resources. The gap where DARU should improve its engagement appears to be in the citizen advocacy space.


Disability Advocacy Victoria (DAV)

DAV is the Victorian peak disability advocacy organisation and is a member of DARU’s Project Governance Group (PGG). Through that, a key role for DAV is to advise DARU on the resource needs of the sector. DAV was represented on the DARU PGG by two of its members, Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service and Communications Rights Australia. In October 2012, the DAV PGG membership changed to Disability Discrimination Legal Service (DDLS) and Leadership Plus.

Organisations and networks have a range of connections with DARU and with each other (Table 4.1). DAV has indicated that it represents about 65 per cent of the sector, with members providing legal, individual and systemic advocacy, and self advocacy.  DAV also has a number of associate members, which are also independent. Six regional disability advocacy organisations are members of DAV; four of these are also members of VicRAN.

DAV has long been operated on a voluntary basis by representatives of its member organisations, although it has recently appointed a dedicated part-time worker to run its activities. As such, it is very resource-constrained and may not be able to adequately undertake its duties without additional support.

The relationship between DAV and DARU is one of the most important in terms of stakeholder engagement and in enabling DARU to effectively undertake its role. There have been some issues in recent years, mostly around perceptions of roles and/or resourcing of the sector which has hindered the ability of both DAV and DARU to effectively engage.

There are opportunities to improve information sharing between DAV and DARU on the needs of, and activities being undertaken within, the disability advocacy sector. Continuation of the existing nature of information sharing between the organisations could lead to duplication of resources being provided.

DARU may need to engage with both DAV and other networks of advocacy organisations to ensure the needs of the entire sector are being identified.

There is a genuine desire by both DAV and DARU to effectively resource the sector. The issues between them appear to stem from both structural and historical reasons.


Victorian Regional Advocacy Network (VicRAN)

VicRAN is the network of regional advocacy organisations operating across Victoria. There are six members of VicRAN, including:

  1. Barwon Disability Resource Council Inc. – Assert 4 All
  2. Colac Otway Region Advocacy Service
  3. Disability Advocacy and Information Service
  4. Gippsland Disability Advocacy Association Inc.
  5. Grampians Disability Advocacy Association
  6. South West Advocacy Organisation.

Both the Regional Information and Advocacy Council (RIAC) and Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service are members of DAV.

State-wide advocacy organisations located in or around Melbourne do not appear to be engaged with VicRAN.

VicRAN meets every two months in Bendigo. DARU attends part of every second meeting to share resources and provide training. DARU appears to have a strong and mutually beneficial relationship with VicRAN and its members, who actively engage with both regional and Melbourne based events hosted by DARU.


Citizen Advocacy Network

The Citizen Advocacy Network consists of a Tasmanian citizen advocacy organisation and all four of Victoria’s citizen advocacy organisations:

  1. Citizen Advocacy Sunbury and Districts Inc.
  2. Gippsland Disability Advocacy Association Inc.
  3. Melbourne East Disability Advocacy
  4. North East Citizen Advocacy Inc.


Quality Improvement Partnership (QIP), Quality Assurance Network (QAN)

There are 17 FaCHSIA funded disability advocacy organisations in Victoria that are subject to new quality assurance (QA) standards and procedures. Of these 17, two organisations have been accredited and a number are in the process of gaining accreditation.

Two networks were formed by organisations to support each other to implement the new QA requirements: Quality Improvement Partnership (QIP), Quality Assurance Network (QAN). QAN includes five regional advocacy organisations, while QIP is a national network that includes two regional Victorian organisations.  Members of the citizen advocacy network are also supporting each other in developing their QA systems, led by North East Citizen Advocacy (NECA).


Peer Support Network

The Peer Support Network is driven by Leadership Plus and Communication Rights Australia, and includes advocates from a range of Melbourne-based advocacy organisations. DARU has offered to support the administrative needs of the network, so advocates can continue to share ideas and their knowledge with each other.


SARU (Self Advocacy Resource Unit)

SARU appears to be well connected with the self advocacy organisations interviewed as part of this project. Furthermore, SARU is regarded across the sector as providing a valuable and relevant service for self advocacy. The majority of individual advocacy organisations regard self advocacy as something separate to disability advocacy. SARU is auspiced by Action for More Independence and Dignity (AMIDA). As such, AMIDA has a unique relationship with DARU through SARU.


Disability Rights Victoria – disbanded

Disability Rights Victoria was funded by the Victorian Office for Disability as part of the Leadership Plus Consortium, to provide networking activities for disability advocates across Victoria. However, Disability Rights Victoria has disbanded. As such, it is not included in Table 4.1. Members included:

  • Disability Resources Centre
  • South West Advocacy Association
  • Barwon Disability Resource Council
  • Disability Advocacy & Information Service
  • Gippsland Disability Advocacy
  • Regional Information & Advocacy Council – Bendigo, Shepparton and Mildura
  • Grampians disAbility Advocacy Organisation – Ararat, Ballarat and Horsham.



Table 4.1 Networks of disability advocacy organisations across Victoria


  1. Action for More Independence and Dignity in Accommodation Inc.


  1. Action on Disability within Ethnic Communities
  1. Association for Children with a Disability Inc.
  1. Association of Employees with Disability Inc. (AED Legal Centre)
  1. Barwon Disability Resource Council Inc. – Assert 4 All
  1. Blind Citizens Australia
  1. Brain Injury Matters Inc.
  1. CAUS- Communication Rights Australia
  1. Citizen Advocacy Sunbury and Districts Inc.
  1. Colac Otway Region Advocacy Service
  1. Collective of Self Help Groups Inc.
  1. Cystic Fibrosis Victoria Inc.
  1. Deaf Victoria
  1. Disability Advocacy and Information Service
  1. Disability Justice Advocacy Inc.
  1. Disability Resources Centre
  1. Eastern Access Community Health Inc.
  1. Gippsland Disability Advocacy Association Inc.
  1. Grampians Disability Advocacy Association
  1. Leadership Plus Inc.
  1. Melbourne East Disability Advocacy
  1. Migrant Resource Centre, North West Region Inc.
  1. North East Citizen Advocacy Inc.
  1. Regional Information and Advocacy Council
Former member FaCHSIA & Vic
  1. Reinforce Inc., Victorian Association of Intellectually Disadvantaged Citizens
  1. Southwest Advocacy Organisation
  1. Southern Disability Advocacy
Former member Accredited FaCHSIA
  1. STAR Victoria Inc.
  1. VALID – Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with a Disability
  1. Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council
  1. Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service Inc.
  1. Women with Disabilities Victoria Inc.
  1. Youth Disability Advocacy Service