Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Judy Cockram

Second Supervisor

Dr Bob Jackson


The reasons for an apparent low use of advocacy agencies in Perth by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have a disability, in a context of high vulnerability, were investigated. A high incidence of disability exists amongst this group. No previous research in this area has been conducted. Nine Aboriginal people with disability were interviewed about their experiences with regard to their disabilities and any need for advocacy. This study used a qualitative, phenomenological approach as its conceptual framework, including also, a minor quantitative component. The quantitative component consisted of a brief survey of Perth-based disability advocacy agencies. It employed a semi-structured interview approach. This approach is a departure from the traditional, open-ended phenomenological method. Interviews were recorded on audio tape, transcribed and then analysed, using Colaizzi's phenomenological method. Aboriginal contact persons were used where possible to overcome cultural barriers and heighten the researcher's sensitivity to the vulnerabilities of the participants's double disadvantages of Aboriginality and disability. The researcher's own disability was considered an advantage in gaining the participants' acceptance . The findings of this study include a complete absence of awareness of advocacy or advocacy agencies among participants. As well Aboriginal 'shyness', poverty, effects of long-term discrimination, powerlessness, the wider Aboriginal background of abuse, not having Aboriginal workers in advocacy agencies and tensions between Aboriginal groups were identified us barriers to accessing advocacy. The use of 20 'wounds', obtained from Social Role Valorization theory, confirmed the validity of the findings. Citizen Advocacy was found to advocate for higher numbers of Aboriginal people than other advocacy forms and this finding may lead to further research on suitable advocacy forms and adequate funding. implications of this study, regarding funding of advocacy and development of suitable advocacy models in participation with Aboriginal people are highlighted. The study contributes to greater understanding of the reasons for low Aboriginal use of advocacy agencies.