DDWA Advocacy Service – Snapshot 2

DDWA Advocacy Service Snapshot

Snapshot 2
3 April 2018

by Maxine Drake, Service Negotiator / Advocacy


Welcome to the second instalment in this new series of snapshots that introduce ideas and practical information on Advocacy for people with disabilities and their families, carers and friends.

This snapshot looks at foundation skills of advocacy analysis; what can lead to a sense of grievance; and when to leave an action hero costume at home!

What is the foundation skill of advocacy analysis?

Advocacy is both a framework for analysis of an issue and an array of skills and actions.

Often an advocate is not needed to attend an appointment and can be of great value by providing analysis after the story is told.


What led to the sense of grievance?

The benefits of such an analysis are:

  1.   the person is not emotionally involved and therefore has some detachment; and
  2.   detachment is important but it is quality listening that is the foundation skill of advocacy analysis.


2 people holding coffee mugs

An advocate listens to the narrative of a situation at a number of levels.  It is not just about the ‘facts’, chronology or steps taken to get to that point.  Facts can tell us where something may have gone ‘wrong’ in a course of action or an experience, but even these judgements about what went wrong can vary from person to person.

What is most significant is the meaning an individual attaches to what has happened and the effect this has had on them.  All of which can lead to their sense of grievance.

An advocate does not decide whether someone has got the meaning right or wrong, because no one can arbitrate or pass judgement on someone elses personal interpretation.

Listening for what it is that the person feels was simply wrong or unfair is the best clue to the pathway to resolving a situation.  If it was a situation such as  ‘They simply didn’t do what they committed to do’ or ‘They called a meeting with no notice and didn’t warn me what it was about’ in that case it seems that disrespect is at the heart of the issue.

Together with the facts, these need to be acknowledged and addressed. If an advocate focuses only on the facts, they miss a golden opportunity to build rapport and to identify the feelings of the person.

Advocate or Action Hero?

Good quality listening requires an advocate to set aside their Action Hero side and their Investigator self and settle back to listen openly and closely to what matters to that person.  We only include the things that matter to us in a narrative where we want someone to understand us, so the essential things an advocate needs to know will generally be shared.  The best advocacy response at this point is compassion and acknowledgement of what the person is dealing with.

It is not unusual for this to be the first time a person has experienced a level of open and compassionate listening.

As is more often the situation, when people raise concerns about a service experience they can met with defensiveness or having their concerns deflected.  An independent advocate provides a valuable supportive listening service, even before moving into inquiry or advocacy action.

Maxine Drake

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