Why Advocacy is needed
People with disabilities are amongst the most vulnerable groups within our community, either as a result of the person’s disability itself, or, as is more often the case, as a result of the negative ways society responds to people with a disability.
Good intentions and prejudice have combined to separate and often discriminate against many people with disabilities. Too often, people with intellectual disabilities, have only had paid workers in their lives and have not had the opportunity to develop a friendship with someone who chooses to be in their life.
The way society responds to a person with a disability may mean that the person is:
- Seen to be less important and hold a lower status than other people in the community.
- Rejected by the community, service workers and in some cases family members.
- Isolated and often segregated from ordinary community life.
- Not taken seriously and consequently, many opportunities for growth and development are squandered and ignored.
- Often materially poor, therefore extremely vulnerable financially.
- Provided few or no opportunities to have control over his or her life, including the right to basic freedom that others take for granted.
- Particularly vulnerable to exploitation and discrimination.
- Usually restricted to relating with people who are paid to be there as many people do not have opportunities for socially-inclusive situations.
- Often abused and neglected – physically, emotionally and socially.
An advocate promotes and protects the rights of people with disability and supports people with disability to speak out, to feel heard and to be a part of decisions affecting their lives.
An advocate is independent and encourages self advocacy.
A Volunteer Citizen Advocate with MEDA can be engaged short term addressing specific advocacy issues or long term being matched and in a citizen advocacy partnership with a person with a disability.
Click to read how you can help.