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.
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.
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 1995 the name was changed to Disability Justice Advocacy after consultation with members.
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 celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a major event on Thursday 27 August 2015. It was generously supported by our partners Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and Bank Australia.
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers supported the celebration by providing the venue and catering for which we are extremely grateful.
Bank Australia supported the celebration by sponsoring and presenting the 25th Anniversary Systemic Advocacy Award.
The Board and staff decided to make a one-off presentation called the 25th Anniversary Systemic Advocacy Award. There were 7 nominations and the winner was Brian Caccianiga.
Brian, through long term systemic advocacy, successfully negotiated with the Minister for Transport and his advisors for free public transport for people with disability who depend on the use of a scooter or wheelchair for mobility outside their home.
His campaign ended in 2012 when the Minister for Transport notified his department to list scooter/wheelchair users in the regulations to receive free travel on public transport and informed Brian to pass on the information to the relevant stakeholders.
(L-R) Damian Richmond, Community Development Manager Bank Australia. Trevor Carroll, Executive Officer, Disability Justice Advocacy and Brian Caccianiga
Brian was presented with:
12 September 2018 - over 85% of members voted to:
25 September 2018 - Change of Incorporated name in Victoria as Disability Justice Australia Inc
17 October 2018 - Registered with ASIC as an Australian Registered Body. Number 629 441 078
17 November 2018 - Changed registration status with ACNC
10 December 2018 - Officially known as Disability Justice Australia Inc