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What is Advocacy?

Topics in this section:

What is an Advocate
Formal vs Informal

The Institute for Family Advocacy and Leadership Development in Australia has defined advocacy as:

" the process of standing alongside an individual who is disadvantaged and speaking out on their behalf in a way that represents the best interests of that person."

This is the definition used in terms of the Residential Aged Care Advocacy Services Program.

Advocacy:

  • involves representing and working with a person or group of people who may need support and encouragement to exercise their rights, in order to ensure that their rights are upheld.
  • may involve speaking, acting or writing on behalf of another person or group.
  • differs from mediation or negotiation because these processes aim to reach a mutually acceptable outcome between parties.
  • has no prescribed or clearly determined method. What constitutes advocacy will differ in different circumstances and according to the skills and needs of the individual or group.
  • may involve working against established or entrenched values, structures and customs, and therefore needs to be independent of service providers and authorities.

Advocates are not impartial because they work entirely from the perspective and interests of the older person. Their role is to assist older people by representing the older persons wishes.

Aims of Advocacy

The common aims of advocacy are to:

  • Increase the older persons control over goods and services
  • Overcome barriers that restrict opportunities
  • Ensure appropriate societal and service delivery responses
  • Protect human rights
  • Ensure a better quality of life
  • Be responsive to and emphasise individual needs and wishes
  • Be oriented towards outcomes for older people
  • Aim for empowerment of disadvantaged individuals and groups
  • Challenge stereotypes and stigma

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