There are many organisations that can help you advocate for your child.
On this page:
- Advocacy organisations
- Other professionals who know your child
- Family members and friends
- The approach will change if you engage a lawyer
The Association for Children with a Disability (ACD) is an advocacy organisation. Supporting parents and carers to speak up for their child is at the heart of what we do.
There are many other advocacy organisations, including those in regional areas, those for specific disabilities, Aboriginal organisations (such as Aboriginal co-ops and health services), and organisations and working that have particular expertise in supporting families from migrant communities.
All families are welcome to contact generalist advocacy organisations like ACD, including migrant and Aboriginal families.
- Contact our ACD Support team
- List of advocacy organisations
- Aboriginal families can find much more information in our Rock Solid resource
“I found it really helpful to have professionals at meetings with me at different points, particularly when I’ve found my energy was low. Because I’ve found that I might be more reactive in those times, and they help to keep things on task. It sometimes took the pressure away from me having to be responsible for the whole discussion.
By having someone else sit and talk with the school on my behalf, I could contain some of the hard feelings – the difficult feelings I was having. And trust that the advocate had my best interests at heart, because we’d had a discussion outside about how we would approach the meeting. So I knew that they knew what I wanted to have conveyed, and that they would do that job really well for me. That trust was really important.
And I always came away feeling as though I also had someone to debrief the meeting with, so that was really nice too. Because they would provide feedback that – ‘Hey, we did really well here’, or ‘We notice that it seems that they didn’t really listen to this part here, but we can keep working on that’.
At no point was the person making a decision for me. It really felt as though I was still decision-maker for my child, but I had a trusted helper.” – Tania
Other professionals who know your child
Often, a professional in another role will offer to step in, and support you to advocate for your child. They might do this on one occasion, or they might become an essential part of your ongoing support network. Families in Learning Together have had advocacy support from a range of professionals, including advocacy organizations, occupational therapists, case managers, speech therapists, social workers, community development workers and psychologists.
Specialists can also offer expert advice to you and the school, including through your child’s SSG meeting.
- Find out more about using specialist input to make your case.
“Sometimes, a particular staff member at the school might step into the role of advocating for your child to their colleagues, for example in SSG meetings.
I’m caught between a system that’s not working, and a little boy caught in the middle. And it’s very hard not to enmesh the two, and let it consume me. And then you forget to see the real reason you’re there, which is the child.
You can’t do it alone. You need to have support from outside the school, whether that be an occupational therapist, an advocate – whoever it is. So that you’ve also got someone to bounce ideas off, because the school aren’t always right. But you’re not always right either. You’re seeing things through coloured glasses, and they’re seeing things through however many children they’ve got in that year level.” – Mel
Family members and friends
Many parents and carers go to meetings with their spouse or partner, a friend or another family member. Sometimes another parent or carer from school might offer to support you, especially if they have been through similar issues. Aboriginal families might have support from a community advocate.
The approach will change if you engage a lawyer
Be aware that if you engage a lawyer (paid or otherwise) to act for you in your dealings with a government school, the DET complaints policy outlined in Learning Together will no longer apply and your matter will be referred to lawyers representing DET.
This will not be the case if you are supported by an unpaid advocate such as a support worker from ACD or similar, or by another professional, or friend or family member, acting in an advocacy and support role. In all of those cases, the process outlined in Learning Together will apply.