NSW ADVOCACY PROGRAM GUIDELINES (Disability)

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1 NSW ADVOCACY PROGRAM GUIDELINES (Disability) Version 1.0 Prevention and Pathways Directorate Ageing, Disability and Home Care, Department of Family & Community Services October 2010

2 Document approval The NSW Advocacy Program Guidelines have been endorsed and approved by: Jim Moore Chief Executive Approved: Signature on file Lauren Murray Deputy Director-General Approved Signature on file Document version control Distribution: NSW Disability Advocacy Service Providers ADHC Regions Document name: NSW Advocacy Program Guidelines (Disability) Version: Version 1.0 Document status: File name: Authoring unit: Final As above Prevention and Pathways Directorate Date: 1 October 2010 NSW Advocacy Guidelines October

3 Table of contents 1. Background to the NSW Advocacy Program Guidelines 3 2. Improving the Advocacy Program 3 3. Overview of Advocacy 4 4. Aims and Objectives of the Advocacy Program 5 5. Principles 5 6. Program Activities 6 7. Program Outcomes 7 8. Eligibility 7 9. Collaboration and Partnering Funding Accountability and Performance 9 NSW Advocacy Guidelines October

4 1. Background to the NSW Advocacy Program Guidelines The National Disability Agreement (NDA) positions advocacy as the responsibility of both the Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments. Government reviews and literature have highlighted service delivery issues and inefficiencies within the current disability advocacy system prompting both a National and State focus on improving the administration and outcomes of the disability advocacy program. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the emerging National Disability Strategy promotes social and economic inclusion for people with a disability. The Advocacy Program supports people to actively participate in decision making processes and conversations that impact on their lives so that their human rights are realised. people value highly the extent to which they retain control over the things that happen to them and perceptions of personal autonomy were found to be closely related to overall feelings of satisfaction about their lifestyle and the support they receive. (Polivka and Salmon 2001) The NSW Disability Services Act 1993 provides the NSW legislative base for disability services, and lays the foundation for promoting the rights of people with a disability, supporting their wellbeing and encouraging their participation in the life of the community. 2. Improving the Advocacy Program The NSW Government s plan Stronger Together: A new direction for disability services , aims to build upon and improve services to people with a disability and their families and carers. The key objectives of Stronger Together are to: strengthen families by enabling children with a disability to grow up in a family and participate in the community; promote community inclusion by supporting adults with a disability to live in and be part of the community; and improve the service system s capacity and accountability by providing fairer and clearer ways to access services, greater accountability and more opportunities for innovation. To support these objectives, a priority under Stronger Together is the reform of the advocacy program in NSW, to support people with a disability to access services, facilities and jobs on the same basis as other members of the community. The reform of the Advocacy Program will assist people with a disability and their families and carers to increase the control they have over their lives through a NSW Advocacy Guidelines October

5 person centred approach to enable responsiveness and place the client at the centre of decision making and participation in their local community. The NSW Advocacy Program Guidelines capture the reform directions known at the time of endorsement, and will provide greater clarity in the delivery of advocacy services for individuals and groups of people with a disability, their families and carers. Additionally, the guidelines have been informed by extensive consultation processes via discussion papers and direct liaison with the NSW disability advocacy sector. Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) will continue to work with the advocacy sector and utilise feedback from people with a disability to refine the program with the aim of developing good practice in the delivery of advocacy supports for people with a disability, their families and carers. 3. Overview of Advocacy Advocacy enables people with a disability to increase the power and control they have over their lives in order to enjoy what they see as a 'good life' for themselves. It encourages and assists people with a disability to achieve and maintain their rights as citizens and to achieve equity of access and participation within their communities. An advocate listens to the person so that they can accurately reflect their views and act fairly on their behalf. It should be in the best interest of the individual at all times and aim to increase the person s independence and confidence. The program is primarily focussed on the development and support of individual advocacy, but recognises that this may give rise to some systemic advocacy at the local level. It is important for issues of wider consequence to be channelled through appropriate national or State bodies, such as peak organisations. Individual Advocacy is defined as supports to encourage and assist individuals with a disability to achieve and maintain their rights and to achieve equity of access and participation in the community. This includes speaking or standing up with and/or for the person with a disability so that they can better participate in the community. The service supports the person to build on their existing skills to represent their own interests, and helps them be aware of the different ways that they can have a say. Individual advocacy promotes the rights of people with a disability as respected and valued participants in the community with equal opportunity, choice and inclusion. NSW Advocacy Guidelines October

6 4. Aims and Objectives of the Advocacy Program Ideally, we want to live in a dignified and simplified society where we have the confidence and self esteem to speak our mind and have the opportunities that everyone has. (Shut Out: The Experience of People with Disabilities and their Families in Australia Commonwealth of Australia, 2009). The Advocacy Program will: facilitate life choices by empowering people with a disability to have their say and make their decisions; provide better opportunities for people with a disability to make informed decisions about their lives; enhance the rights of people with a disability through advocacy; support people with a disability to choose how they want to participate and contribute within their communities; increase options for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a disability to participate in the community; increase options for people with a disability from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to participate in the community; include and value families and carers as part of the support system for people with a disability; improve access to disability advocacy supports that meet individual requirements/goals; and build upon the existing support system to ensure a strong and viable sector and the delivery of high quality services. 5. Principles The following principles inform the development and delivery of all support to people with a disability in the Advocacy Program. Inclusion People with a disability are placed at the centre of decision making so that personal needs, goals and senses of achievement shape advocacy support. People with a disability are supported to enable them to choose how they want to participate and contribute within their communities. Social and cultural diversity is researched and embraced, and strategies implemented that minimise exclusion. Empowerment People with a disability are encouraged and supported to represent themselves and to understand their rights and responsibilities and the options available to make informed decisions. NSW Advocacy Guidelines October

7 Privacy and confidentiality The privacy, dignity and confidentiality of people with a disability is protected and upheld at all times and consistent with relevant privacy laws and principles. Collaboration Advocates should foster strategic alliances with people with a disability, peak organisations and universal services to ensure contemporary models of support. Independence of support Quality Equity People with a disability receive independent and autonomous support that is not inhibited by conflict of interest. All supports delivered to people with a disability are of high quality, effective and outcomes based. Each user seeking a service has access to that service on the basis of relative need and available resources. 6. Program Activities Advocacy Program activities could include, but are not limited to: providing access for people with a disability, their families and carers to an advocate for consultation and representation if required; fostering the development of self advocacy amongst people with a disability, their families, carers and friends through the provision of advocacy training and education; assisting the person with a disability to understand and utilise review and complaints processes where required; providing access to culturally appropriate advocacy supports for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; providing access to culturally appropriate advocacy support for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; developing links between people with a disability, their families and carers into the local community; and locally promote social inclusion, valuing of diversity and building of disability awareness that will support individuals and groups. NSW Advocacy Guidelines October

8 7. Program Outcomes People with a disability and their families and carers are supported to selfadvocate, advocate on behalf of other people, or access an advocate so that their rights are upheld in the community. People with a disability choose to participate in a community in which they are welcomed and supported. A person s participation and contribution to the local community is determined by that individual. People have improved access to appropriate and responsive advocacy including people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds. People have improved access to appropriate and responsive advocacy including people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. There is greater acknowledgement and awareness of disability in the community. 8. Eligibility A person (and/or their family, carer, or community member acting on their behalf) can access advocacy services if s/he: has an intellectual, psychiatric 1, neurological, sensory, physical or like impairment and is eligible for service under the NSW Disability Services Act 1993; and is seeking advocacy support for an issue that pertains to NSW. 9. Collaboration and Partnering The framework for cooperation between service providers delivering disability advocacy supports and ADHC is based on the principles outlined in Working Together for NSW including integrity, accountability, independence, cooperation, respect, an outcomes focus and a commitment to open communication and consultation. The following broad principles are essential as the basis for a strong relationship between the Government and the non-government sector: 1 In NSW, specialised services for people who have a psychiatric disability are primarily provided by the Department of Health NSW Advocacy Guidelines October

9 Outcomes: decisions should be informed by a focus on real outcomes for people and communities. Respect: both Government and non-government organisations (NGOs) must respect each other s roles and acknowledge that these roles may lead to differences of opinion around particular issues. Evidence-based approach: policy, program development and service delivery should be based on reliable evidence. Accountability: both Government agencies and NGOs must be accountable and transparent in the way in which they spend public funds, in a manner appropriate to the level of expenditure. Communication: wherever possible, Government agencies and NGOs should make open communication and consultation a priority, particularly where changes to policies, programs or services are being considered or advocated. Independence: NGOs are independent agencies that are responsible and accountable for their own performance and management. They are accountable to their members (and their clients/consumers/service users) in the operation of their organisation. Where NGOs receive government funding they are also accountable to Government for their performance in relation to the service or initiative being funded. Inclusiveness: the Government is obliged to balance the interest of all New South Wales citizens and has a responsibility to allocate resources accordingly. This may involve changes to policies, administrative and funding arrangements. The Government is accountable to the electorate for such changes. 10. Funding Advocacy services are funded under the Disability Services Act 1993 in a manner consistent with the roles and responsibilities established under the National Disability Agreement. Advocacy should be independent and autonomous from the broader service system that provides support to people with a disability and their family/carers. To minimise conflict of interest, the NSW Government will not provide increased advocacy funding to organisations that also receive funding for other specialist disability services (other than Information Services). For further information regarding the Principles for the Funding Relationship please refer to Working Together for NSW. NSW Advocacy Guidelines October

10 11. Accountability, Performance and Minimum Data Set (MDS) Reporting Advocacy Services are required to submit an annual work plan by 31 May that highlights priorities for the coming year and describes how to achieve them. Additionally services are required to submit an annual progress report against the work plan by 30 September. To enhance sector partnerships, the region and the organisation should work together on the annual work plan to strengthen the outcome focus and sustainability of the service model. ADHC operated services are monitored through the regional management structure. Regional Directors have responsibility for ensuring non government advocacy services funded by ADHC are performing in line with quarterly MDS reporting requirements and the requirements set out in these Guidelines and in accordance with the provisions of the Funding Agreement. NSW Advocacy Guidelines October

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