“A community where every person’s life has inherent dignity and value”.
"We will promote, mentor and advocate for the well-being and interests of vulnerable people with disabilities. We support our communities by establishing a range of advocacy programs that facilitates increased participation."
North East Citizen Advocacy Incorporated (NECA) is a community based organisation that provides advocacy to people within the Banyule, Darebin, Whittlesea and Nillumbik areas.
NECA strives to build long-lasting one-to-one relationships between people with an intellectual disability (Participants) and ordinary citizens (Citizen Advocates), who are unpaid and independent. NECA also provides issues-based Individual Advocacy by a member of staff.
NECA was established in 1986 after the enactment of the Commonwealth Disability Services Act (DSA) and the Victorian Intellectually Disabled Persons Services Act (IDPSA), both of which strongly encouraged citizen advocacy.
NECA is a not-for-profit organisation and an incorporated association, governed by a volunteer Committee of Management. NECA's operation is overseen by a Program Manager who managers the daily operations of the organisation and its programs. NECA's programs are also supported by a Program Officer, an Individual Disability Advocate and an Administration Officer.
NECA is primarily funded by the Department of Social Services.
Watch our video on the Home page to get a glimpse in to some of the amazing friendships NECA has created and supported since 1986. It's truly heartwarming.
NECA upholds the principles as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of People with Disabilities and educating people on these rights is an important part of NECA's role. Have a look at our Easy to Read document that outlines all of the articles of the convention, or like us on Facebook and share the images we have created to educate everyone on the articles.
What is Citizen Advocacy?
Citizen Advocacy involves a community member just like you, who is carefully matched with a participant – a participant is a member of our community that has an intellectual disability.
The level of citizen advocacy varies in each relationship depending on the participant's needs, their current situation and goals/dreams for the future. The advocates availability and capabilities are also taken in to account, and the match created will be based on these factors.
To give you an idea of the kind of roles an advocate can fulfill, the following is a list of the most common;
- Sharing time, a simple gesture that creates inclusion and self worth.
- Helping the protégé reconnect or stay connected with family and friends.
- Empowering the protégé and assisting them in pursuing a goal (big or
small), from finding a job or a home to supporting them with an interest/hobby.
- Being a voice and standing up for the participant's rights.
- Attending Doctors appointment with the participant.
Why is Citizen Advocacy needed?
People with intellectual disabilities are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups within our community. They have often experienced rejection and isolation from a young age and have had no one in their lives except those who are paid to be there. They can become disconnected and isolated from the community. This alone has a huge impact on their quality of life and Citizen advocacy is there to prevent this from happening.
Citizen Advocacy is simple, it nurtures a freely given one-to one relationship which promotes acceptance, security and justice for the participant. It really does change their life and it will change yours too. Please take time to watch the short video on our home page for an emotional insight into what a relationship between two amazing people can achieve.
While most relationships can organically evolve in to a life long friendship, others can be short term and for a specific purpose.
Everyone of us has the potential to make a difference to someone’s life. No particular skills are necessary to become a citizen advocate, just the desire and commitment to make a positive difference to the life of a person who is isolated or at risk. Citizen Advocates are people who believe in equality and justice for all. Married, single, young, old, male, female, we want to hear from you to discuss the possibilities.
Being a Citizen Advocate for someone enriches their life in ways that most of us take for granted, the simple gesture of a phone call, an outing or visit and cup of tea, creates a world of inclusion, acceptance and hope to the participant. The impact is truly life changing to both involved.
Do you think that becoming a Citizen Advocate is something you can do ?
Call or email our Program Manager - Frank Damiano or Program Support Officer - Carol Herman to discuss your options further. Here at NECA we want this to be a positive and safe experience for you and all concerned, so through our recruiting and induction phases we'll make sure it is.
What is Individual Advocacy?
Individual Advocacy is speaking, acting, and/or writing to promote and defend your rights.
All people with an intellectual disability and carers residing in the Banyule, Nillumbik, Whittlesea and Darebin area can access help from NECA.
For assistance call our Individual Disability Advocate - Lisa Kerr on 8407 3684 or 0401 787 047.