Advocacy Snapshot

DDWA Advocacy Service – Snapshot 1

Advocacy Snapshot from the desk of DDWA's own Service Negotiator / Advocacy, Maxine Drake...

DDWA Advocacy Service Snapshot

23 February 2018

by Maxine Drake, Service Negotiator / Advocacy



DDWA has been providing an advocacy service for families encountering difficulties in negotiating for their family member.  This is a fairly new offering and demand is growing as people become aware that this is available.

We are finding that the advocate is rarely needed in person.  The opportunity to talk through the situation with an advocate, along with some analysis and advice, is highly valued by parents and supporters of people with disability.

You are most likely already a skilled advocate

DDWA members and other parents with family with disability are generally skilled advocates in their own right.   Many years of standing up for what seems like a fair and proper entitlement for the family or individual, leads to all sorts of skills and knowledge in service negotiation.

There can be times when negotiations stall or something is just plain wrong and it can seem that an independent advocate is needed.  Instead of sending members away to find an advocate elsewhere DDWA has committed to providing this service in house.


Good advocacy is always based in the decisions of the person at the centre of the issue and so the advocate simply needs to be a strong supportive presence.

DDWA advocacy seeks to be “conflict averse but conflict ready“.  This means going in carefully (“finesse) with an assumption that decency and good faith will likely prevail and a situation can be resolved on that basis.

The advocate is a third party witness to what is happening and this alone can be enough to encourage:

  • focus,
  • clarity and
  • resolution

What does “conflict ready” mean? 

If something is not in fact as it should be, the advocate must be prepared to escalate a situation, again carefully, in order to stand up for the person with the issue.

If an advocate stands by and does not call out wrong thinking, treatment or processes, they can become part of a system that adds stress to the family instead of making things better.


What is the first step?

Talking through the issues is always the first step.  Talking it around and looking at a problem from new angles can be enough support to enable a breakthrough in negotiations. 

Having an advocate attend a meeting is often not a first step. 

Finding some new language to assist in discussions, finding a new level of confidence and certainty about the claim or just speaking it all out loud to someone who understands can be all that a person needs to continue negotiations on their own behalf.

This is the first stage of the Finesse and Escalation equation because it leaves the advocate available to be brought in later if required.

Maxine Drake

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