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We walk together with mob to listen, learn and to honour your stories.

WHAT IS ADVOCACY?

Disability advocacy is acting, speaking or writing to promote, protect and defend the human rights of people and to support their voice to be heard. Individual Advocacy is a one-on-one journey with a designated Advocate who walks alongside to help prevent or address instances of discrimination, abuse, neglect or exploitation.

SUPPORT FOR MOB, WITH MOB: DONE DIFFERENTLY  

The First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) Advocacy Point of Difference is respecting and acknowledging the individual person’s story and walking alongside them to advocate and deliver best practice outcomes.                                                          

This Point of Difference aims to significantly improve the social and emotional wellbeing of First Nations people and meet the immediate and ongoing need to provide a more respectful, responsive and culturally sensitive service.

HOW CAN ADVOCACY HELP ME?  

  • Assisting you to build on your self-advocacy skills
  • Supported decision making
  • Housing/accommodation
  • Accessing education and employment
  • Accessing suitable disability services
  • Human Rights and discrimination
  • Voicing concerns about supports
  • Making a complaint

WHERE CAN I ACCESS ADVOCACY?

We currently provide advocacy services across:

  • New South Wales
  • Regional Victoria
  • Adelaide
  • Barkly Region – Tennant Creek Northern Territory

Our advocacy can be provided online or face-to-face.

CONTACT US

If you are looking for Advocacy support, or would like to know more about our Advocacy Program, please contact us at:

Phone: 1800 006 455

Email: [email protected]

Address: PO Box 20048 World Square NSW 2002

FPDN acknowledges funding for the advocacy services from The Australian Government, Department of Social Services through the National Disability Advocacy Provider (NDAP) program and the New South Wales Government, Department of Communities and Justice, through the Disability Futures Advocacy program (DFAP).          

National Advocacy Staff Profiles

Aunty June Riemer

FPDN Deputy CEO
Work History / Specialist Background:

June Riemer (nee Foley) is a proud Gumbaynggirr – Dunghutti woman, from the North Coast of NSW.

June was honoured for her life’s work, dedicated to creating systemic change to improve the lives of First Peoples living with disability, in 2021 as the NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year.  June uses her platform for change and social justice, speaking about the issues experienced by First Peoples living with disability and how much more needs to be done to address the barriers to meaningful participation for all.

Raised by strong and fierce women and advocates, her dedication of hard work, passion, and commitment to change for our communities, is now playing an integral role in solidifying the growth and continuing strength of First Peoples Disability Network.

Why do you love what you do at FPDN?

I love advocating for our people living with disability.

June has worked in the sector for over 40 years and leads and inspires a dedicated team, showing exceptional leadership as considerable changes occur nationally in the disability sector. She has led multiple national conferences and training workshops with the goal of ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with disability do not get left behind, are included and have culturally appropriate access to all programs.

NDAP TEAM

Nancy Bates

Manager – National Disability Advocacy Program

I am a Barkindji woman from Far Western NSW, grew up on Wilykali country, my great grandmother’s country and have lived on Kaurna country in SA for 21 years.

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I feel like a ‘Jill of all trades, master of none,” because at the age of 46, I think I have had a more varied work life than most.

Some of the previous roles I have held include:

  • Link Up Caseworker – this work was incredibly hard, but incredibly rewarding. It has taught me so much about our genealogies, communities, and our history post colonisation.  I learned the most culturally in this role, and I still maintain my ties to Stolen Generations, and the Link Up Program.
  • Project Officer working on national research with National Centre for Training on Addictions ” Stress and Burnout of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Alcohol and Other Drugs Workers” and “Feeling Deadly, Working Deadly” workforce support resource.
  • Project Officer – Transition Care Program, Southern Adelaide Health developing the model, “Aboriginal Transition Care Program” supporting Elders and older people to access a 12 week in-home, or in residential care allied health support program following a hospital admission.
  • FPDN Local Area Coordinator supporting families in SA with the roll out of the NDIS for children.

There have been many roles over the years so this is a snapshot.

Jade Millerick

Disability Advocate

Fiona Tipping

Indigenous Community Advocate

Fiona is a proud Palawa Woman who has worked for over 30 years in Disability. During this time she has held a number of diverse roles:

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  • Advocate for Grampians Disability Advocacy Victoria since 2010
  • Funded by FPDN for Indigenous advocacy support for the Disability Royal Commission in Victoria
  • Selected as an Independent Expert for the NDIS Independent Expert Review Pilot Program to 30/06/2023
  • Commenced working for FPDN 03/07/2023 as an Individual Advocate in the NDAP Pilot program
  • Individual Wurreker VAEAI Award finalist for 2022 in recognition of improving education in disability (generational trauma of Stolen Gen in particular) and employment opportunities for Victorian Kooris.

Areas of expertise are access to and appealing access decline of the Disability Support Pension and the NDIS. I would say I’m a Professional ranter and dedicated complaint letter writer. I’m extremely passionate about Human Rights and Equality.Why do you love what you do at FPDN?

With a rich background as a dedicated advocate for mainstream causes, my journey has found its true fulfilment at FPDN. Here, the experience transcends merely work – it is a profound connection based on mutual respect and a shared commitment to culture and human rights. Unlike previous roles, I no longer find myself battling unfair and combative systems; instead, I revel in the joy of being valued for my passion. Working with my exceptional A team, I am genuinely excited about the positive impact we can create together for our communities.

Melissa Arch

Indigenous Advocate, Victoria

Melissa has spent 10 years across the disability space, within the residential and day programs.

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Work History / Specialist Background: 

Melissa has spent 10 years across the disability space, within the residential and day programs.  Melissa has also led Mental Health/AOD with Indigenous patients and their families, at University Hospital, Geelong. AOD/Mental Health case management within the Geelong (Wathaurong) and Ballarat (BADAC) co-ops AOD/Family Reunification Clinician, with parents, in the Child Protection system with Odyssey House Victoria

Why do you love what you do at FPDN?

Advocacy has become my passion, since working in the AOD/family reunification space. I am allowed to have a voice and be respected for it at FPDN. Empowering people to make their own choices and feel supported is something that I have learned, makes all the difference.

NSW CAPO TEAM

Debbie Lee

Policy Officer of the Coalition of Aboriginal Peaks NSW

Debbie Lee is a proud Yidinji, Gomeroi woman living on Country in NSW. Debbie works as the Policy Manager of the Coalition of Aboriginal Peaks NSW at First Nations Disability Network Australia.

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Work History / Specialist Background:

First Peoples Disability Network is the peak organisation representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with disability. FPDN’s vision is a just and inclusive society, in which First Peoples living with disability are respected and valued for their culture, history and contribution to contemporary life, and in which their human rights are recognised, respected, protected and fulfilled. My role is funded by CAPO therefore I have the liberty to move and shake daily to raise the roof on the individual grassroots stories to ensure peoples advocacy needs are met by canvassing mobs truth reflective of the daily disability obstacles they continue to face.

Why do you love what you do at FPDN?

Deb is all about what is right and just for MOTHER earth and FATHER sun for they are our guiders and protectors in everything we do walking on Country. With that being said, Deb is all about giving back to her Mob across our remote communities which is why she loves working for FPDN, as it gives her the freedom to connect with mob across community, for it’s our mob that continues to embrace the formidable work Debbie does professionally at FPDN.

Hayley Bassett

NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Peaks – Community Engagement Manager 

I’m a proud Wiradjuri/Dharawal woman living on Yuin Country (Dolphin Point, NSW).

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Work History / Specialist Background:

I started my career as a Secondary Educator in 2005, specialising in Aboriginal Education and Diverse learning. This is where I realised the importance of giving back to mob to ensure they are equipped with the appropriate tools to succeed in the wider world. Over time, I travelled across NSW facilitating support in educational settings, particularly in remote communities. My core focus was to work in partnership with classroom teachers, support staff and the wider community; combining knowledge and practice coupled with nation building as a focal understanding.

In 2018, I transitioned into the Child Protection space via  Community Engagement; specialising in the significant needs of First Nations children in the Child Protection System. This has been a long standing passion of mine, to advocate, support and drive the blak voices of our most vulnerable. I’m a fulltime Mother and carer of First Nations children living with complex disabilities. They are my reason and my motivation to turn up and do what we do everyday at FPDN; to pave the way for change and to ensure every person has the equal opportunity to shine and to be seen.

Why do you love what you do at FPDN?

I love the cultural connectedness across the team, coupled with our “can do” attitude we all embrace to drive the best outcomes for mob. I love connecting and walking alongside mob to ensure their individual needs are met, our partnership with mob is there from  start to finish.

NSW ADVOCACY TEAM

Tracy Crisp

NSW Disability Advocate/ National Triage Response

Tracy is a proud Gomeroi woman, who was born on the lands of traditional custodians, the Wulgurukaba and Bindal people. She has been living on Awabakal Land working in various communities and sectors for over 30 years.

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Work history/specialist background

Tracy has a deep passion for social justice and ensuring people are empowered to be the experts of their lives and that their voices and stories are heard. Tracy’s career has been diverse, including working in youth homelessness, community development, information and referral, disability support, non violence and conflict resolution, supporting people involved with the justice system, kinship care, child protection, out of home care, carer recruitment and support, suicide prevention and connecting carers to the Carer Gateway supports and services.

Why do you love what you do at FPDN?

FPDN is unique as an organisation who is solely dedicated to representing Mob with Disability. I love that we do this in multiple ways – through our Policy Work, Research, Individual and Systemic Advocacy, Education and Training, Community Work and Community Engagement, Representation in spaces such as NDIS, on Boards and References groups, Media Engagement, creating Resources and many other approaches as we continue to grow in the advancement of this important work. The Individual Advocacy I have the privilege to do – for me is sacred as we hold space with people to safely share their stories and truly be heard. I love that we lead with culture.

We are aligned with the Disability Rights Movement principle of “Nothing About Us Without Us” and this is overlayed with an unwavering cultural lens.

I am proud of the FPDN legacy story, being established by key leaders of the Aboriginal Disability Rights Movement and through our present day work we pay our respects, in particular to our founder Uncle Lester Bostock and all our Mob who have lived experience of Disability.

Julia Piepers

NSW Individual Advocate

Julia is a primary school teacher by trade, with the working ethos of inclusion for all within a safe and educational environment at the forefront of her work.

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Work History / Specialist Background: 

Julia is a primary school teacher by trade, with the working ethos of inclusion for all within a safe and educational environment at the forefront of her work. Working with children with additional needs led to an Early Intervention role with the NDIS and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in Northern Sydney over the last 6 years. Working collaboratively with families to support the advocacy of their children’s support plans, Julia engages with service providers, peak bodies, advocacy groups, and the NDIA to ensure best practice is upheld for these children and their families. Growing up and living on Darug Country in Sydney’s North, Julia’s First Nations family connections drive her passion toward advocacy, opportunity and improved services and support for First Nations families in Sydney and Greater NSW.

Why do you love what you do at FPDN?

 FPDN is a remarkable organisation who I feel honoured to be so warmly embraced by. Passion, persistence and determination coupled with the gracious and empathetic nature of the staff ensures we are able to advocate, support and walk alongside each other in this joint quest for equality and justice for those most vulnerable in our communities.

Human Rights Training artwork

Isobel Coe

NSW Educational Advocate

I am a proud Wiradjuri woman from Condobolin NSW.

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Work History / Specialist Background: 

I worked in the education system for 15 years. I have also worked in homelessness, domestic violence and family work.

Why do you love what you do at FPDN?

I have advocated for my children who have disabilities. Working as an advocate for our mob is an amazing opportunity for myself. I have learnt so much already from the fierce team at FPDN.

Chris Fallon

NSW Indigenous Advocate

Chris is a descendant of the Barkindji people of the Wilcannia region, currently based on Wiradjuri Country (Dubbo) and working throughout the entire state of NSW.

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Work History / Specialist Background: 

Chrishas over 45 years of experience working within the Disability Advocacy sector. Chris lives with disability and has represented the region on several Boards and Committees, both State and National. He was an Local Area Coordinator for the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) responsible for initial contact in many of Western NSW more remote communities. He has a wide range of experiences working with people with disability and being part of their journey.

Why do you love what you do at FPDN? 

The FPDN gives me structure to work with people who require a level of advocacy and support, and to empower them to live their life to their full potential.