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Submission to review of the National Disability Advocacy Program

In June 2016, we joined with Communty Legal Centres NSW, the Federation of Community Legal Centres (Vic) and NACLC to respond to the Department of Social Services’ Discussion Paper on the National Disability Advocacy Program.

Community legal centres value the important role advocacy for and with people with disability plays in promoting and protecting the community engagement and human rights of people with disability. We strongly support the continuation of the NDAP, a vital funding program that provides people with disability access to advocacy using a range of models. There are six broad models of advocacy, including citizen, family, individual, legal, self and systemic advocacy. We understand that all recipients of funding under the NDAP’s ‘legal advocacy’ support model are community legal centres.

While we support review and reform of the NDAP program to ensure it remains efficient and encourages good practice models of advocacy, we are concerned about a number of possible developments and reforms.

We agree that people with disability should have access to a range of advocacy models that best meet their needs. Community legal centres have a number of approaches to the provision of such advocacy. For example, some CLCs are in a position to provide a number of models of advocacy and then determine which will best assist the person with disability. Others however, focus on one or a limited number of models and would be concerned about moves to force or require them to provide other models given potential conflict of interest and other issues. It is important that this diversity of approaches and expertise is appropriately considered in the course of the review.

We also note that some CLCs are also concerned about the interaction between NDAP and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), in particular, the labelling of functions such as Information and Referral, Capacity Buildings and Decisions Support under the NDIS as ‘advocacy like’ activities.

Finally, we are also extremely concerned about the impact of any review on ongoing funding allocation processes and the quantum of funding provided under NDAP.