Supports people with a disability to have their voices heard whilst fostering decision making and an opportunity to more fully participate in their community.
Melbourne East Disability Advocacy, formerly Citizen Advocacy Inner East, was established in 1981 by Ethel Temby and Trish O’Brien. It is run by a volunteer committee of management and it is currently funded by the Department of Social Services.
The MEDA program is a not-for-profit community program that partners with people with an intellectual disability who are at risk of social exclusion, with Volunteer Citizen advocates.
There are currently more than 30 volunteer citizen advocates helping the work of MEDA in different areas:
Volunteer citizen advocates are community members who voluntarily enter a relationship with a person with an intellectual disability to represent the interests of that person and develop a long term relationship that offers new experiences and opportunities. These Volunteer Citizen Advocates are recruited, trained and supported through Melbourne East Disability Advocacy and then matched with a person with a disability. Their roles may vary from:
- Spokesman ship-communicates the interests and needs of the person provide a voice in meetings or in written correspondence, represent the individual’s rights.
- Practical Advocacy– provides assistance with life skills and encourages independence like using a phone or a new piece of household equipment or reading a map.
- Community inclusion– encourages the person to become involved in the life of the community by participating in organised activities and in using community facilities.
- Friendship– friendship is about caring, sharing, emotional support, spending time together, having fun and just being there for the person.
“Our Volunteer Citizen Advocates are a crucial part of our workforce. They add diversity, community connectedness, impartiality, support and offer friendship for their protégés and to MEDA. I hope the Imagine the possibilities campaign will provide an invaluable platform for highlighting the value and diversity of our volunteers whilst inviting interest in volunteering with MEDA as a Volunteer, Citizen Advocate,” says Jan Mattrow of Melbourne East Disability Advocacy.
MEDA is a not for profit organisation that centres itself around promoting and protecting the rights of people with an intellectual disability. Their dedication to their work is inspiring – and a great illustration of what can happen when we Imagine the possibilities.