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Advocacy, meaning 'to speak-up publicly for yourself, or someone else' is important in the disability space.

Since at least the 18th century, individuals with power have spoken-up for the rights and education needs of people with disability, who often did not have power or rights.

Today people with disability speak proudly for themselves. From the international to the local, a range of government and private organisations speak as and for people with disability.

Below is a directory to a range of advocacy organisations and resources. Disclaimer: this directory is not exhaustive.

Advocacy - international

Disabled Persons International

Founded in 1981 is the world’s only cross-disability Global Disabled People’s Organsation (DPO) and has had Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC) since 1983.


International Disability Alliance

Founded in 1999 is an alliance of global and regional organisations of people with disability.

This organization helped start the International Disability Caucus and played a role in negotiating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability.

Today it is involved in promoting this convention.

Advocacy - Australia

Australian Federation of Disability Organisations 

Has a membership of national and state advocacy groups.

It co-ordinates Disability loop which is a way to find out about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).


National Disability Insurance Scheme

Provides information and services to Australians with disability.

Advocacy - Victoria

Office of the Public Advocate

A body which advocates for Victorians living with disability, their families, carers and friends.

It provides information on the complex legal and legal issues faced by people with disability and their carers as the negotiate the legal, health and government systems.

Victoria Civil and Administrative Tribunal

Resolves disputes and makes decisions on a range of matters that effect peoples' daily lives. This includes matter relating to mental health, disability and equal opportunity.


Image of people walking dog, baby in pram, outdoors in a community setting

Wells, Dianna. (1988). North West Office Of Intellectual Disability Services. H90.95/49

Disability Strategy

Australia has a Disability Strategy (2021-2031), a 10-year plan to meet obligations under the international human-rights convention, the United Nations Convention on Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Victoria has a Disability Act (2006) which requires the state to develop a new State Disability Plan every 4 years. The latest of these is Inclusive Victoria: State Disability Plan (2022-2026). This plan focuses on six key areas for reform. These are

  • Co-design of services, policies and programs with people with disability

  • Self-determination for Aboriginal communities

  • An intersectional approach. This means understanding how discrimination against people with disability is similar to discrimination against other minorities.

  • Universal design. This means all services follow a consistent design.

  • Disability confident and inclusive workforces. This means all public sector workers know how to offer useful services that are really wanted, in respectful ways.

  • Effective data and outcomes reporting. This means knowing what are the ethical, wise and genuinely useful ways of gathering data.


Advocacy groups

Disability exists in many forms. Many advocacy groups exist. In the Australian context key groups include.


Employment advocacy groups such as Australian Network on Disability help organizations to employ, work with and provide services to people with disability.

Mental health

Beyond blue

Advocates for good mental health for all Australians. In particular it advocates for better understanding and awareness of anxiety, depression and suicide.

SuicideLine Victoria

24/7 counselling for suicide prevention, offers telephone, video and online counselling to people at risk of suicide, carers and people bereaved by suicide. Their number is 1300 651 251

Blindness or Visual loss 

Vision Australia is a national provider of services for people living with blindness or low vision.  

Deafness or Hard of Hearing

Deaf Australia

A Deaf-led organisation advocating for Deaf or hard of hearing people and those who use Auslan as their language of preference.

Hearing Australia

Provides research and hearing services.

Deaf Victoria 

Peak advocacy body for Deaf and Hard of hearing people in Victoria. 

Learning disabilities

Learning disability sometimes defined as learning difficulty, depending on the context, is a spectrum of differing ways of comprehending information. 

Print disability

Print disability refers to difficulty reading, interpreting or manipulating print. There are a range of print disabilities, including dyslexia. In Victoria the volunteer-run group Dyslexia Victoria Support offer advice on a range of learning difficulties. 


I CAN Network 

Australian Autistic-led online group mentoring programs provide Autistic and neurodivergent young people aged 8-22-yrs

Yellow LadyBugs

An Autistic-led NGO celebrating austistic girls and women. 


Advocates for those on the Autism spectrum.

ADHD Australia

Peak national advocacy group for people with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Arts access

Arts Access Victoria is the peak body for the arts and disability in Victoria.

Human Rights

At the international level sits the international human-rights convention, the United Nations Convention on Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This aims to promote the equality and dignity of all persons with disability. 

At the national level, the Australian Human Rights Commission promotes human rights. Leading the Commission in the disability space is the Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Ben Gauntlett. The relevant Commonwealth law is the Disability Discrimination Act 1992

At the state level Victoria has four human rights laws which include laws protecting people with disability.

In this state the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission conducts education, research and advocacy. Here is a link to a page produced by the Commission, discussing Victoria's human rights laws

Victoria has a Disability Act (2006) Vic which requires the state to develop a new state disability plan every 4 years. The latest of these is Inclusive Victoria: State Disability Plan (2022-2026)


Many people living with disability need the support of family or friends as carers.

Carer Gatewey is an Australian government program that advocates for carers, nationally. According to Carer Gateway, 2.65 million Australians are carers.

Caring is a complex role. Any person of any age can find themselves in a carer role for a family member or a friend.

This can be a challenging experience. Carers often need both emotional support and practical advice to carry out this important role.

In Victoria Carers Victoria provides resources and support for carers.

Believe:NeuroDiversity is an organisation that supports neurodivergent professionals in the workplace. 

Related guides

How to find medical information

a guide to medical and health resources at the Library

School and education history in Victoria

a guide to help research into education in Victoria