Why Advocacy is needed

People living with intellectual disability have many strengths and skills.  At MEDA, we often stand beside people who have shaped their own resilient, creative, engaged lives.

Sometimes, people need some assistance in negotiating what can be complex social structures or systems which affect their lives.  People we work with often know what they want – they just need some assistance in navigating the system to make sure their voices are heard.

The way society responds to a person with intellectual 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 financially vulnerable.
  • 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.

Volunteer Citizen Advocates act as a set of curious, critical, unpaid eyes, who choose to work alongside a person with intellectual disability to ensure their voice is heard and their human rights upheld.

Volunteer Citizen Advocates may work with someone for a long period of time – some of our Citizen Advocate Partnerships have been working for over 35 years!

Other Volunteer Citizen Advocates don’t feel they can make an ongoing commitment, but have skills and the desire to assist on short term issues.  These Citizen Advocates may work with someone to help resolve a particular issue, which usually takes a discrete period of time.

Click to read what volunteer citizen advocates do.