Who is Capricorn Citizen Advocacy?
Capricorn Citizen Advocacy is a disability advocacy program. We are funded by an annual operational grant from the Queensland Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services.
We operate in the Rockhampton Regional Council and Livingstone Shire Council areas and have been in continuous operation since 2000. Our current service agreement is up until 30 June 2019 and hope we will continue to be funded for many more years to come.
What is Citizen Advocacy and why is it needed?
Citizen Advocacy is focused on establishing and supporting one-to-one relationships between a person who has a disability (the ‘Protégé’), who is vulnerable and has unmet needs in important areas of their life, and an everyday citizen (the Advocate) who is competent, resourceful and principled.
Citizen Advocates are free from conflicts of interest and make a personal commitment to provide the appropriate support to the person with disability.
Citizen Advocacy responds to the recognition that people with disabilities may often be rejected, segregated, neglected and even abused.
It also affirms the immense power of natural and supportive, unpaid, freely given relationships in our community, as these relationships can also include and protect people with disabilities.
It is clear that unquestioning faith is placed by disability policy makers in expanding the client – service provider model. In most cases, having disability support workers in their lives is the daily experience of people with disabilities. No matter how effective these paid relationships may be between service providers and their clients, they always have inbuilt limitations due to the professional distance that must be maintained and also frequently because of their lack of constancy.
Citizen Advocacy is a proven, practical and long term way of assisting a person with disability to improve the quality of their life, helping with fundamental needs:
- an independent spokesperson if required
- emotional support and friendship
- control over decisions affecting their life
- an education
- meaningful work
- authentic engagement in the community
How are people with disabilities and Citizen Advocates matched?
Each Citizen Advocacy relationship is unique as it is based upon the needs of the person with the disability and the Advocate’s capacity to meet these needs.
Therefore the two people in the match decide the terms of their relationship together, bearing in mind the needs of the person with disability. The scope of Citizen Advocacy relationships are as diverse as the individuals involved in them.
Who are Citizen Advocates and how do I become one?
Citizen Advocates are of all ages and come from all walks of life, each bringing their own individual life experiences and expertise.
Advocates must be at least 18 years of age but do not need to have any special qualifications or experience. Many Citizen Advocates have had no significant prior involvement with people with disabilities.
Broadly speaking, a Citizen Advocate is someone who:
- believes in the right of all people to be treated with dignity and respect,
- does not look for material rewards for helping someone in need,
- is genuine about making a long term commitment to a person,
- has high expectations about what people with disabilities can achieve with the right support; and
- demonstrate to the community by their actions and attitudes that people with disabilities have the same needs and interests as any other member of society.
Our program recruits Citizen Advocates in a variety of ways. First and foremost, you can volunteer through this website or by telephoning our office.
Most Citizen Advocates become involved as a result of having been directly approached by the staff, a member of the program’s Management Committee, or other Advocates within the program.
Others have become involved through the internet, word of mouth, or public promotion.
All Advocates must undergo an induction and a Criminal History check.
How much time is involved?
The time involved is variable and entirely flexible. Some Citizen Advocates are in contact with their Protégés several times a week, whilst others much less frequently – there are no hard and fast rules, but an average may perhaps be a few hours every week or two.
Many Citizen Advocates work full time, as do some people with a disability.
What support is available to Citizen Advocates?
Citizen Advocates have ongoing contact with the Citizen Advocacy office and its staff, which also provides support to each relationship in the form of advice, information, resources and contacts.
How many Staff does Capricorn Citizen Advocacy have?
Capricorn Citizen Advocacy currently has two staff; a Coordinator and an Administration Officer. We also have a Management Committee which consists of a maximum of 9 Volunteer Members.
How does Capricorn Citizen Advocacy ensure the quality of its work?
Capricorn Citizen Advocacy monitors its quality of work by means of monthly Management Committee Meetings and also monthly Key Office Activity Sub Committee meetings.
- We are quality assured under the Human Services Quality Framework by Institute for Healthy Communities Australia Certification Pty Ltd (IHCA Certification). IHCA Certification is accredited by the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand. JAS-ANZ (jas-anz.org/register).
- Independent audits called Citizen Advocacy Program Evaluations (CAPES) are also held on a 3-5 year basis. CAPES are conducted by a team of Citizen Advocacy practitioners from other programs in Australia and overseas who review our program against 36 CAPE ratings. CAPE is the only internationally recognised quality system for any form of disability advocacy in the world.
The aim of CAPEs is to ensure that Capricorn Citizen Advocacy always operates in accordance with the principles and practices of Citizen Advocacy and remains true to our mission.
Are there any other Citizen Advocacy programs?
Yes, there are currently eight Citizen Advocacy programs operating throughout Australia including Capricorn Citizen Advocacy.
For more information about these programs, you will find their website details under our links tab.
Citizen Advocacy programs also operate in New Zealand, the United States of America and the United Kingdom.