Collective Voice Examples

What is a collective voice and how could it work?

The consultant’s report that led to the establishment of the Disability Voices Tasmania project identified five levels of formality in the development of a collective voice:

1. Individual action on a common issue

Individual people react to a common issue in a way that builds an informal collective voice. For example a number of individuals might write to their local newspaper editor, or contact their local MP about a specific issue.

2. Action through informal networks

For example, a person may be concerned about lack of wheelchair access at a local shopping mall, so may raise awareness and take action on this issue through their networks, by asking people to write to the mall owner or having as many wheelchair users as possible attend the mall to illustrate the problem. Social media pages and online petitions also fall into this category.

3. An informal group or network develops its own identity beyond a specific issue

A peer support groups is an example of this type of collective voice. While informal, network members often take up specific roles to assist the network do its work.

4. An informal network hosted by an organisation

This hosting might include back office support with printing, online media maintenance etc., and front-office support with venue, travel, support staff and other types of expenditure. Hosting provides a degree of sustainability because it means the collective network is more likely to survive the times when issues go quiet or when the network’s leadership changes.

5. A collective voice which creates and maintains its own formal structure

This is sometimes called a Disabled Person’s Organisation (DPO). A DPO may also provide resources that assist individual members to be better-informed to take action on issues of importance.

Some examples of different Australian organisations that provide a collective voice to people with disability include (follow the links below for more details).

The Youth Disability Advocacy Network in WA is an all-volunteer organisation that organises workshops, sharing stories, audits, and advocacy.

Information on Disability and Education Awareness Services (IDEAS) in NSW supports people with disability, their families, carers and other supporters to self-advocate, enabling them to make informed decisions about matters of importance to them.

Women with Disabilities Victoria provides systemic support, advocacy and resources to women with disabilities in leadership roles.

The Diversity and Disability Alliance in NSW runs monthly Peer Cafes bringing people together to talk, connect and learn from each other.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Disability Network of Queensland is an independent network of people with disability, their families and carers. Activities include local yarning groups and a closed Facebook group.

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NSW - Queensland - Tasmania - Victoria- Western Australia