What is Independent Advocacy?

Independent advocacy is about speaking up for an individual or group.

Independent Advocacy is a way to help people have a stronger voice and to have as much control as possible over their own lives. Independent Advocacy organisations are separate from organisations that provide other types of services. An independent advocate will not make decisions on behalf of the person/group they are supporting. The independent advocate helps the person/group to get the information they need to make real choices about their circumstances and supports the person/group to put their choices across to others. An independent advocate may speak on behalf of people who are unable to do so for themselves.

Find out more about what advocacy is and is not.

What Independent Advocacy is

  • about standing alongside people who are in danger of being pushed to the margins of society.
  • about standing up for and sticking with a person or group and taking their side.
  • a process of working towards natural justice.
  • listening to someone and trying to understand their point of view.
  • finding out what makes them feel good and valued.
  • understanding their situation and what may be stopping them from getting what they want.
  • offering the person support to tell other people what they want or introducing them to others who may be able to help.
  • helping someone to know what choices they have and what the consequences of these choices might be.
  • enabling a person to have control over their life but taking up issues on their behalf if they want you to.

What Independent Advocacy is not

  • making decisions for someone.
  • mediation.
  • counselling.
  • befriending.
  • care and support work.
  • consultation.
  • telling or advising someone what you think they should do.
  • solving all someone’s problems for them.
  • speaking for people when they are able to express a view.
  • filling all the gaps in someone’s life.
  • acting in a way which benefits other people more than the person you are advocating for.
  • agreeing with everything a person says and doing anything a person asks you to do.

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The four principles of Independent Advocacy

  • Independent Advocacy puts the people who use it first
  • Independent Advocacy is accountable
  • Independent Advocacy is as free as it can be from conflicts of interest
  • Independent Advocacy is accessible

Read more about these in our SIAA Principles and Standards (pdf)

 

The main themes of advocacy are:

  • Safeguarding people who are vulnerable and discriminated against or whom services find difficult to serve.
  • Empowering people who need a stronger voice by enabling them to express their own needs and make their own decisions.
  • Enabling people to gain access to information, explore and understand their options, and to make their views and wishes known.
  • Speaking on behalf of people who are unable to do so for themselves

Independent advocacy is structurally, financially and psychologically separate from service providers and other services.  Such independence helps to ensure that there is no possibility of any conflict of interest arising in relation to any other services accessed by the individual or group.

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