Advocacy promotes and protects the human rights and needs of people who experience disadvantage, or are at risk of being disadvantaged.
Advocacy is an important part of what we do at Wellways, because people experiencing mental health challenges, and their families, friends and carers, face multiple forms of disadvantage and human rights deprivations. These include housing instability, unemployment, poverty, isolation and social exclusion, inadequate access to health and support services and untreated chronic physical illnesses.
Full participation in the community is a human right. Wellways has a vision for society’s future, in which people experiencing mental health issues and psychosocial disability, as well as their families, friends and carers, are understood, accepted and provided the same opportunities as everyone else. The pathway towards this vision involves challenging social and systemic barriers, such as stigma, discrimination and social exclusion.
Wellways was established in 1978 by a group of carers who were concerned about the inadequacy of support and service options for family members who had severe mental health challenges. They formed a united voice and collectively advocated to governments for much needed services. The advocacy values that motivated the establishment of Wellways four decades ago remain central to our vision and the work we do today.
Wellways’ Advocacy Framework guides us in undertaking advocacy. It describes past achievements by mental health advocacy movements, the current and most widespread forms of exclusion that people with mental health issues encounter, and the most effective approaches to tackling the major issues.
What issues are you passionate about? What change do you wish to see in Australia’s mental health system? What role do you want to play?
Ways to be involved with advocacy
Become a Wellways member: Wellways advocacy members have the power to influence the future direction of mental health in Australia by being part of a shared voice. Members receive regular newsletters about advocacy activities, information about advocacy events in your community, surveys about advocacy concerns, and resources to assist in leading or participating in advocacy campaigns.
Get involved where you live: Attend a regional advocacy workshop, which aims to generate local leadership, encourage natural networks and involvement in advocacy strategies that are important in your community. Check the advocacy news feed below for details.
Join our Call to Action: If you’re interested in systemic change, become involved in our Call to Action campaigns, where we lobby governments about the big issues and demand changes to legislation, funding and policy.
Resources about rights for Victorians from culturally and linguistically diverse communities
The Mental Health Complaints Commissioner has created resources about consumers and carers rights in 15 non-English languages, including Arabic, Vietnamese, Croatian and Dari. Information includes processes to make complaints and how to access support from the MHCC office.
Have your say on the Victorian Carer Statement
In October 2016, the Victorian Government announced it would develop a Victorian Carer Statement to recognise, acknowledge and respect carer contributions and to make a commitment to support carers better. The Victorian Carer Statement will explain what carers want from health and community services and what they think are important to services available in Victoria.
The Victorian Government wants carers to be acknowledged in their own right. Carers may have particular needs and preferences regarding housing, the law, employment, education, transport and health.
The Victorian Carer Statement will:
- gather evidence for State Government investment and develop a strong case for a whole-of-government carer strategy
- show where there are gaps between State and Commonwealth support and services for carers
- understand from carers and family where improvements can be made to health and community services
Carers Victoria will also consult with service providers, peak bodies and organisations that support or represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and other carers.
Wellways Australia fully supports the development of a Victoria Carer Statement and will clearly outline the specific needs of mental health carers and families. During April, we will working with our regions to hold mental health specific consultations that will inform our written response. If you would like to have your say, please email us or join us and become an advocacy member.