History of Disability Justice Advocacy (DJA)
In 1989 the Spastic Society of Victoria (now SCOPE) had a Consumer Unit to help clients have a say about the services they received. A group of key staff and clients decided to form an independent organisation to help clients advocate for themselves.
DJA was formed in 1990 to provide advocacy support to people with disabilities as a result of a decision by the Spastic Society of Victoria which saw a need for an independent agency to provide this service. DJA was formerly known as the Action Resource Network.
This is a copy of the original logo for the Action Resource Network
After many months of planning and discussion the Action Resource Network was formed, later to become Disability Justice Advocacy.
The majority of members and service users were originally people who used Spastic Society Victoria services.
The Spastic Society of Victoria put in some seed funding and there was lots of in-kind support from staff including access to vehicles.
In 1990 the Action Resource Network was incorporated and in April that year opened the first office in Johnston Street, Abbotsford.
In March 1990 the Committee of Management amended the constitution to say that Action Resource Network change the focus from people who are 'Spastic Society consumers' to 'people with multiple disabilities.'
The ARN was originally set up to provide a service for consumers to self advocate, but when federal government funding under the Disability Services Act was obtained, the emphasis shifted to Individual Advocacy.
The ARN worked closely with other agencies such as Villamanta, AMIDA, the Disability Resources Centre and Action for Community Living (Leadership Plus) on several important legal and systemic issues affecting consumers.
It gained a reputation as one of the leading disability advocacy agencies in Victoria.
In 1995 the name was changed to Disability Justice Advocacy after consultation with members.
ARN was coincidentally the initials of a garbage truck pick up service, so it was felt that a name with the word advocacy in it was more appropriate.
In October 2001 Chris Jones a board member of DJA was killed by a train after his wheelchair got stuck in a poorly maintained section of the Nunawading Rail Level Crossing. This led to the formation of the Safe Transport Action Group (STAG)
After a successful systemic advocacy campaign by STAG, the Victorian Government committed $12.5 million over four years to improving the safety of railway crossings for wheelchair users.
Disability Justice Advocacy Today
DJA is funded by the federal Department of Social Services to provide: Individual (60%), Legal (10 %) and Systemic (30%) Advocacy
Our Vision is to be "the Leader in disability advocacy."
We have almost 300 members.
We provide advocacy services to people with disabilities in 28 municipalities in metropolitan Melbourne with over 160,000 potential clients.
We have an impact nationally and in Victoria through our systemic advocacy work on:
- Accessible airline travel,
- People with disabilities as victims of crime, abuse and neglect,
- The relinquishment of people with disabilities into state care; and
- Facility-based respite just to name a few.
We are very proud of our history and our achievements.