Media Release by Senator the Hon Anne Ruston

Increased funding to uphold the rights of people with disability

Disability representative organisations will receive more than $5.3 million over two years, a new national advocacy secretariat will be established to streamline advice and increase sector collaboration, and counselling and advocacy providers will receive $41.6 million to assist more people engage with the Disability Royal Commission.

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said it was critical to ensure services continue to be available after the Disability Royal Commission was extended to September 2023.

“A $41.6 million funding boost will enable over 81 providers across Australia to continue offering advocacy as well as trauma-informed counselling to support the work of the Disability Royal Commission,” Minister Ruston said.

“Pathways to professional support are essential when individuals are making an often life-changing decision to tell their story.”

Since October 2019, the services have conducted over 28,000 individual advocacy sessions and over 25,000 counselling sessions.

Minister Ruston said 17 disability organisations would also share in more than $5.3 million from the Morrison Government to provide systemic advocacy under the Disability Representative Organisation program.

“Too often the needs and rights of people with disability fail to be considered in everyday decision making and advocacy is a step to change that,” Minister Ruston said.

“Systemic advocacy provides the capacity for all people with disability through their representative organisations to have their views communicated and listened to.”

Under the Disability Representative Organisation program organisations to receive funding are:

  • Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) – representing children and young people (0-25 yrs) with disability
  • First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) – representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability
  • National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) – representing people with disability from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD)
  • People with Disability Australia (PWDA) – a national organisation focused on disability rights and advocacy
  • Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA) – representing women and girls with disability
  • A consortium led by the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO)
  • Inclusion Australia – representing people with intellectual disability.

Recent examples where disability advocates worked constructively with government include the development of Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-2031 and the Disability Gateway.

As part of the systemic advocacy investment, Minister Ruston said the Morrison Government would fund $300,000 to establish a national advocacy secretariat managed by peak organisation Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA).

“The new secretariat will help to coordinate the contributions from disability representative organisations and provide a more streamlined approach to government and sector collaboration,” Minister Ruston said.

“It is an innovative model to ensure every voice is heard through a sector-led partnership.”

Disability Advocacy Network Australia chief executive Mary Mallett said the new secretariat would provide a national, coordinated and strategic approach to systemic advocacy in the future.

“It will be developed in close consultation with disability representative organisations over the coming months and ultimately strengthen the collective voice of people with disability to government,” Ms Mallett said.

To access counselling or advocacy support, contact the National Counselling and Referral Service on 1800 421 468 or for more information visit