Citizen Advocacy began with the recognition that people with intellectual disability are often rejected, segregated, neglected and even abused.
Citizen Advocacy is a way of assisting a person with intellectual disability to improve the quality of their life.
The need for Citizen Advocacy has evolved for many reasons:
- Many people with disability have no one in their lives apart from paid support staff.
- Many people with intellectual disability are limited in their ability to deal with the practical affairs of everyday life.
- The rights and opportunities of people with disabilities are often limited.
- People are unaware that they are entitled to the same rights most of us enjoy.
- Many people with disability remain socially isolated.
There are several different ways people can volunteer their time:
Citizen advocate – Long term role being an advocate to a person with intellectual disability.
Short term advocate – Short term role covering for long term advocates as required (holiday/sickness).
Crisis advocate – Addressing urgent issues for a person with intellectual disability on a short term basis.
Advocate associate -Offering professional expertise or experience as a resource for advocates.
Board member – Overseeing the operation of the program.
Donations – Any financial donations are most welcome and tax deductible.
Activities or services – Free or discounted entry for people with disability and/or their volunteer.
Citizen advocates are people of all ages and come from all walks of life, each bringing their own range of life experiences and expertise.
You do not need to have any special qualifications or experience.
A citizen advocate is someone who:
- Believes in the right of all people to be treated with dignity and respect.
- Has a passion for social justice.
- Does not look for material rewards for helping someone in need.
- Is genuine about making a long term commitment to a person.
- Has high expectations about what people with intellectual disabilities can achieve with the right support.
- Demonstrates to the community by their actions and attitudes that people with disability have the same needs and interests as any other member of society.
- Advocates are provided with an orientation program that is conducted by the Citizen Advocacy office prior to commencing their role.
- Optional ongoing training is provided to advocates several times a year.
- Advocates are regularly informed of external workshops, seminars and training events that may be beneficial.
- Coordinators stay in contact with advocates and are always available to offer support, information, resources or any other assistance an advocate may seek.
The time involved is variable and entirely flexible depending on your individual commitments.
Citizen Advocacy coordinators spend time getting to know the person. This includes:
- Consulting very carefully with the individual to ascertain their own views and aspirations.
- Observing the circumstances of the person’s life.
- With the person’s permission, seeking relevant information from important people in their life.
- The person with intellectual disability signs a consent form prior to us seeking them an advocate.
- All information on anyone involved with our program is kept confidential.
- We conduct a National volunteer police check on all volunteers.
- We complete a thorough reference check process on each volunteer.
- Volunteers are required to sign a code of conduct and confidentiality agreement.
Citizen Advocacy programs are guided and managed by a voluntary board of professional local citizens who believe in the core values of Citizen Advocacy.
Citizen Advocacy programs employ a small team of staff, whose role it is to establish, encourage and support Citizen Advocacy relationships. Staff do not to undertake direct advocacy.