Advice and advocacy services

The type of illness, injury, or issue you have will dictate what kind of advocate you need.

For brain injuries, and neurological disorders you can most likely access a good advocate through the regional branches of your non-profit organisation - i.e. Parkinson's NZ, BIANZ, etc - who can either directly assist with communications or who can help organise a meeting with a specialist agency or commission with you. They will also likely help you to prepare any documents or medical records you may need.

If there is no local advocate available to you, or you want other options, you can seek advice from Citizens Advice Bureau, Community Law, or private companies such as Access Support Services (ACC processes) on 03 548 6962.

If you believe the issue is related to the Health and Disability code described in the previous section, you can contact a Health and Disability Commissioner health advocate  on 0800 555 050. 

Health and Disability Commission - Models of Advocacy

Advocacy belongs to the family of conflict resolution.  Conflict can be resolved using two parties or three parties depending on whether a model for mediation, conciliation, negotiation or advocacy is used.  Advocacy means to advocate for or defend how you feel about something by advancing a certain viewpoint. 

The Nationwide Health and Disability Advocacy Service advocates use an empowerment model with a strength-based approach.

The different forms of advocacy are not necessarily mutually exclusive and do not have neat boundaries, for example (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Self Advocacy - This is standing up for one's self.  Anyone can act as his or her own advocate.  It is when a person makes an informed decision about a matter of importance and then takes responsibility for bringing about the change necessary to make that choice a reality.
  • Peer Advocacy - takes place when the individual providing the help has been through, or is going through, a similar experience.  This is also known as support advocacy and is often used by support groups
  • Best Interest Advocacy - Decisions are made by someone considered to have the best interests of the consumer in mind and/or who is considered to have the knowledge needed to make an informed decision - often on behalf of the consumer.  The consumer may not be part of the decision making process.
  • Statutory Advocacy - is where someone is appointed with legal responsibility to represent another such as a welfare guardian.
  • Crisis Advocacy - uses a one to one relationship between a paid or unpaid advocate and someone who is at risk of being mistreated or excluded. This is usually a short-term one-off arrangement organised to deal with crisis.
  •  Professional/Specialist  Advocacy - is most widely recognised as legal advocacy, but may also be provided by others who provide specialist advocacy service such as HDC advocates specialising in advocacy under the Health and Disability Commissioner Act.
  • Political Advocacy - can include lobbying and is the advancement of particular viewpoints at a political level on behalf of a group of people.
Advocacy fits on a continuum of influence. At one end of the continuum is protest, in the middle is advocacy and at the other end of the continuum is lobbying.  Along the continuum of influence, protest is at the beginning and is usually carried out by action groups rather than individuals.  

Advocacy is divided into two main types of advocacy, case and cause or systemic advocacy.   An individual or groups of individuals either carry out case advocacy by themselves as self-advocates or using paid or unpaid advocates who either support or represent their case. 

A Work and Income New Zealand beneficiary advocating for eligibility to an accommodation allowance or a health and disability advocate advocating alongside a health service consumer for an apology from a general practitioner where the consumer believes her rights have been breached, are examples of case advocacy

Cause or systemic advocacy is where an individual or group advocates on the need to bring about changes to a structure, system, policy or legislation.  This form of advocacy does not focus on an individual but instead represents the rights and interests of a group with similar concerns and issues.  Systemic advocacy from the perspective of an HDC advocate could relate to a local service or it could be based on a regional or national service systems failure. 

Health and disability advocates are also required to bring any matters to the Commissioner relating to the rights of health and disability service consumers, which, in the advocate's opinion should be drawn to his attention.

These types of referrals often relate to issues of public safety and are seen as systemic issues.

Political advocacy is most effective when the lobbyist or advocate has some influence in the corridors of power.  Lobbyists are usually interested in influencing policy and legislation at local and central government levels. 

This is part of the Director of Advocacy's role to submit submissions and comment on policy affecting consumers and their rights.

Empowerment advocacy
Health and disability advocates use what is called empowerment advocacy to assist or act on behalf of a consumer.  This requires them to direct the process to assist the consumer to resolve his or her complaint rather than directing the content of the complaint.

The aims of empowerment are to assist consumers to see:
  • themselves as people with rights who have the resources to find solutions to their own problems;
  • themselves as having skills and strengths;
  • advocates as having knowledge and skills that consumers can use;
  • advocates as peers and partners in finding solutions and driving change;
  • that power structures are complex and partly open to influence.
The advocate's role that works best in empowerment is as a:
  • Resources person - linking consumers to resources in ways which improve their confidence and solution finding abilities;
  • Coach/Mentor - teaching processes and skills, imparting knowledge and information that enable the consumer to retain control of their own concerns and issues.

People from time to time may find themselves at different places on the empowerment continuum (see Figure 3 above) depending on the issues they are facing, the level of support they have, their wellness, ability, motivation, the information and or knowledge they have. 

Generally, those people who are experiencing disempowerment require a wider range of advocacy skills and knowledge and more time. 

Advocates are likely to need specialist skills when working at the disempowerment end of the continuum or they may need expert advice or support, for example, an interpreter, cultural advisor or welfare guardian.

Advocates need to be flexible in the approaches they use to ensure consumers receive the type of advocacy support most likely to increase their ability to self advocate and to become empowered to make their own choices about the solutions to their issues and concerns.

A strengths-based approach
A strengths-based approach is essentially about an approach to people which is dependant upon -
  • positive attitudes about people's dignity, capacities, rights, uniqueness and commonalties;
  • creating a culture of 'power with' to reduce power imbalance;
  • believing that people are capable of change and growth;
  • believing that people are their own best experts;
  • the problem is the problem; the person is not the problem.
Strengths-based practice gives wings to the empowerment advocacy way of working. 

It's all about:
  • validating the complainant's experience;
  • acknowledging and addressing structural constraints and social inequalities;
  • assisting the complainant to focus on the solution;
  • using the complainants resources, experiences, capacities and skills and assisting them to apply these to reaching their own solution to the issues;  
  • ensuring any additional resources are made available to the complainant;
  • supporting and encouraging the complainant;
  • assisting the complainant to explore future possibilities and ways of being;
  • measuring progress against the goals set by the complainant;
  • evaluating the process used and the advocate's contribution to the solutions achieved;
  • ensuring the client has a record of the work carried out.

Defining goals in a strengths-based practice:

Assisting a consumer to realise the change he or she wants or the aspirations he or she has is assisted by setting concrete goals in a pro-active process aimed at:
  • harnessing consumer energy and focus at the beginning of the work;
  • establishing a clear understanding between consumer and advocate about the purpose of their work together;
  • ensuring the work is consumer driven;
  • providing a degree of stability, security and clarity when consumers are finding the process difficult or confusing;
  • reinforcing that the client's/consumers views and understanding of the situation are crucial to the work being undertaken;
  • giving a message of competence to consumers that enables them to move to a solution focus;
  • building confidence and belief that change is possible;
  • making clear the process of support and reducing consumer concerns and anxiety about seeking help.

Free independent advocacy services are available throughout New Zealand. Advocates promote awareness of the Code and HDC Act, providing free education sessions to consumers and providers. They assist consumers to resolve complaints at an early stage and encourage self advocacy as well as providing more support as needed.

Advocates do not make decisions on whether there has been a breach of the Code. Rather, their role is to give consumers information about their rights, and to support them to make decisions and take action to attempt to resolve the complaint. Most complaints that advocates handle are received directly rather than via the Commissioner, but in some cases the Commissioner may decide that a complaint made to his office should be referred to an advocate to enable the parties to resolve the matter. The majority of complaints referred to advocacy are successfully resolved, often by face to face meetings with providers. Advocates must refer any unresolved complaints to the Commissioner and may also report on any matter concerning the rights of consumers that they consider should be brought to the Commissioner’s attention.

The nationwide health and disability service is provided by an independent national advocacy trust through a contractual arrangement with the Director of Advocacy. The advocacy service can be contacted by freephone on 0800 555 050, free fax on 0800 2787 7678 or at 

The Human Rights Commission's primary functions are to: - advocate and promote respect for, and an understanding and appreciation of, human rights in New Zealand society, 

Health & Disability Advocacy Service

Available to consumers of health and disability services to provide information free of charge and supportto deal with concerns or complaints related to health and disability issues.

Phone - 09 441 9001
Email -

ACC Advocates

Peter Sara (Dunedin)
Phone (03) 477 8594
Fax (03) 477 2512

Warren Forster (Dunedin)
Phone (03) 4773823

Tammy Whelan and Luke Morrison (Dunedin)
Phone (03) 477 8781
Fax (03) 477 8382

Tammy Whelan
Luke Morrison

Adept Consultants Ltd
John Cuttance BA LLB DipOSH PGDipBusAdmin (Dispute resolution)
PO Box 6407
Dunedin North 9059
0800 233780

Barry Rait (Advocate)
Phone (03) 931 1928
PO Box 1735

The Advocate (Christchurch)
KFM & Associates Ltd.
Phone (03) 379 2429
Fax (03) 379 2431
Out of town: 0800 254 844

Maevis Watson (Advocate)
PO Box 28035 Beckenham 8242
Phone (03) 332 3053
Fax (03) 332 3057
Mobile 0274 721 274

MaryAnne Evans (Advocate)
PO Box 522 Rangiora 7440

Claire Parry-Canet (Advocate (LLB) and mediator)
Associate member of AMINZ
Advice and Advocacy Bureau Ltd – Christchurch office
92b Russley Road, Level 1, PO Box 14078, Christchurch 8544
Reception Auckland and Christchurch (Diane): (03) 3424994 or
Clients National free toll number: 0508 222 529
Claire DDI: (03) 3424991
Claire Mobile: 021962966
The direct contact details for our Auckland representative remains the same:
Anet Kate DDI: (09) 846 64 78

Access Support Services
Tony Gibbons
Phone (03) 548 6962
Post: PO Box 9058, Nelson.


Hazel Armstrong (Wellington)
Physical Address Level One, Tramways Building, One Thorndon Quay, Wellington
Mailing Address PO Box 2564
Phone (04) 473 6767
Cellphone 0274 721 793

John Miller Law (Wellington)
Level One
The Hannah Warehouse
13 Leeds St
Te Aro
PO Box 6314
Phone (04) 801-5621
Fax (04) 801-5622

Support Network for the Aldehyde and Solvent affected.
Contact: Pip Martin
Phone (06) 362 6826

Hazelhurst Advocates Limited
P O Box 5126
Palmerston North
Phone: 06 353 1960
Mobile: 027 635 1062

Mike Darke (Advocate)

Accident Support Trust
Te Roopu O te Pou O Pakarara
Independent Support for ACC Claimants
102 Frimly Avenue
Hastings 4120
Phone 0800 870 624
Phone (06) 870 6244
Fax (06) 8706243

Fiona Taylor (Advocate)
PO Box 9418
Phone (07)-850 8236
Fax (07) 849 7433

Philip Schmidt (Auckland)
Schmidt & Peart Law
Office/Courier: Suite 7, The Bray Building, 239 Onehunga Mall, Auckland 1061
Post: PO Box 13075, Onehunga, Auckland 1643
Phone: (09) 636 6010 Fax: (09) 636 6012


NZ Combined Trade Unions
Malcolm McNeill
ACC Advocacy
Phone (09) 303 9056
0800 4 UNION
Free Advocacy Service
Available throughout the country, using the following 0800 phone number:
Linkage Trust – 0800 123 4ACC (0800 123 4222)

Auckland Disability Law

Disabled people in Auckland will get a fairer deal from the law with the launch of a new community service funded by the Legal Services Agency.

Auckland Disability Law is the result of development work by the agency and community law centres across wider Auckland. In 2005, the agency commissioned a research team to identify the legal needs of disabled people in the region which were not being met. The team, led by AUT University’s national centre for health and social ethics director Kate Diesfeld, consulted disabled people, their advocates and disability organisations, and lawyers and community law centres. Its findings are the foundation for Auckland Disability Law which will help disabled people access legal services and support lawyers to understand the needs of disabled clients.

Auckland Disability Law solicitor Dr Huhana Hickey hopes to close the gap in awareness by providing knowledge to other lawyers. "Legal service providers face a range of challenges because of the complexity of issues involved, making legal education a key role of the project." Development manager Nicola Owen says the service will be mobile because the research showed that was essential. "A desirable legal service for disabled people is one that understands their particular needs, has staff skilled in working with disabled clients and is able to visits clients in their homes or at outreach clinics," she says. Participants’ recommendations include removing architectural barriers in community law centres, providing sign language interpreters, developing legal information in simple English and providing disability awareness training for lawyers.

Clinics are planned for Te Roopu Waiora in Papatoetoe, Waitakere Community Law Service in Henderson and AUT’s North Shore campus.

As reported by the Manukau Courier

Citizens Advice Bureau

We have a wide coverage throughout New Zealand with over 90 service locations around the country from the far north to Invercargill, in major metropolitan areas and in small, rural communities.

In order for a democratic society to function well people need to be able to participate in that society in a meaningful way.  This requires that people know, understand and are able to exercise their rights and obligations.  In our complex modern world, empowerment cannot be achieved by merely having access to information.  Information can be of little use if it is not also accompanied by someone to guide the recipient and help them understand the information, apply it to their situation, and turn that information into action and results.
The essence of the CAB service is about promoting knowledge and understanding and providing people with the confidence and support that will enable them to influence the things that affect them. When helping individual clients our aim is not to take over the management of a client’s situation, but instead to work alongside them, helping them to help themselves and providing pathways for resolving their issues.  This way, the client has an opportunity to grow in confidence and to learn.
The Citizens Advice service has been designed to be as comprehensive, seamless and accessible as possible and to prevent people in need from discounting themselves from being eligible for our help.  This puts the CAB in the unique position of being able to reach people who would otherwise never be connected with the help services they need, and those who would otherwise fall through the cracks. 
The aims of Citizens Advice Bureaux New Zealand (CABNZ) are to:
  •  Ensure that individuals do not suffer through ignorance of their rights and responsibilities, or of the services available, or through an inability to express their needs effectively. 
  • Exert a responsible influence on the development of social policies and services, both locally and nationally.

The CAB service in New Zealand is about helping people to know and understand their rights and obligations, how to use this information to get the best outcomes, providing people with the confidence and support they need to take action, and working for positive social change within communities and wider society.
  • The right to know how your community works, what you are entitled to and what your responsibilities are
  • The right to participate in active democracy
  • The advancement of health
  • The relief of poverty
  • The advancement of human rights
  •  Their legal rights and responsibilities
  • The legislation relevant to their situation
  • Which are the Government agencies whose areas of responsibility relate to their situation
  • The relevant specialist services in the community
  • The community generally; who is out there doing what, who can help them, what support is available, and whether there are other people they can meet who have similar experiences and understand what they are going through 
  • The processes, including any government processes, involved in addressing their issues and how to navigate their way through them
Phone - 0800 367 222

Community Law

Community Law Centres publish and distribute legal information on a range of different topics.

Public Law

Administrative or Public law regulates relations between the individual and the state.  It protects citizens from arbitrary or unlawful actions by government agencies. Public law ensures that government agencies and state officials do not overstep the limits of the power given to them by Parliament. It also regulates other administrative functions such as the registration of births and marriages and the granting of passports.

Family Law

Family law is an area of law that deals with family issues including the care of children, adult relationships, domestic violence and issues that arise when a family member is incapacitated in some way.  These matters are usually dealt with in the Family Court.

Criminal Law
Criminal law covers matters where state authorities prosecute an individual and which can result in a criminal conviction and sentence.  Most criminal prosecutions are taken by the police but in some circumstances other government agencies can also take action against those accused of committing an offence.

Civil Law, Property and Debt

Civil law, property and debt covers the area of law that relates to the private rights of individuals.  This includes things such as contracts, consumer rights, debt, property rights and tenancy.

Youth and the Law

In most circumstances the law treats children and young people differently from adults.  The law deals specifically with youth in a number of areas including the way young people are dealt with by the criminal justice system, legal ages and entitlements and their legal rights around issues such as employment and consumer law.
Legal Issues for Community Organisations
If your community organisation wants information on legal issues faced by charitable trusts or incorporated societies then click on Keeping It Legal for help and assistance. 

Fact Sheets & Guides

Many community law centres publish legal resources to help members of the public with their legal problems.

This page provides access to these publications or gives information on how these publications can be obtained and at what (if any) cost.

The Legal Services Agency also provides an extensive list of legal resources and publications. 

To find a community law centre in your area, click here.


Eldernet was established in 1997 as a direct result of the founders seeing the need for a comprehensive information service that focussed on issues concerning older people in New Zealand. The internet seemed to be the perfect way to make this information available and so, Eldernet was born.

With this impartial information,  older people, their families’ and professionals who work in this sector access to comprehensive information that enables them to make more informed decisions.

Our shared passion for outstanding customer service and the sector in which we all work means that all users of Eldernet are greeted with a smile and ‘can do’ attitude. If you call, fax or e-mail us we trust you’ll always be made to feel welcomed and supported.

Eldernet can provide information on:
  • Support at Home
  • Retirement Housing
  • Residential Care
  • Community & Other Services

Nationwide health & Disability Advocacy Service

This is a consumer advocacy service for all users of health and disability services. The service is provided as part of a group of consumer protection measures provided by the Health and Disability Commissioner’s Act, 1994. Its purpose is: 

  • to help people to resolve issues with or complaints about a health and disability service provider 
  • to provide rights information through education and promotion 
  • to act on the instructions of the consumer if requested 

It is free, independent and confidential. Access may be by phone, fax, visit or letter, as follows:

Phone 03 388 1204
Fax 03 388 1271
284 Keyes Road, Christchurch 8083

Beneficiaries Advocacy & Information Service Inc

Providing information regarding benefit entitlements and rates, assistance with applications, reviews and appeals.

Phone - 09 444 9543
Email -

CCS Disability Action - Auckland and Northland

"We work with disabled people and ensure decisions are made by disabled people."

CCS Disability Action provides support through information and advocacy, offering a support pathway through life ranging from support for families with children; accessing early childhood services and other educational opportunities for all disabled children; support and advice in moving on to tertiary training or employment; and services to support individuals living independently in the community of their choice.

They ensure that the rights of disabled people are acknowledged and included in all aspects of life, including working with government and local council to raise issues politically and ensure buildings, parks and other spaces are accessible.

Our National Office in Wellington is responsible for developing policy, setting and monitoring standards for the organisation and working with other organisations and government to change attitudes.

Phone - 09 414 9780

DEAS - Disability, Empowerment, Advocacy and Support

There are 4 DEAS offices set up in Auckland each targetting a specific group.

Te Roopu Waiora Maori Service - phone 09 277 4513

Established by Maori with disabilities, works with Whanau and their communities to:
  • Create a supportive environment for whanau to identify their own disability resource needs
  • Provide disability information, advice and support to whanau with physical, sensory and intellectual disabilities
We also link with Marae, community groups, health services, Kohanga reo, Kura kaupapa Maori and a host of Kaupapa Maori organisations so that whanau are aware of services that support their disability needs.

Ripple Trust Generic Service - phone 09 278 7293

Ripple Trust is a not-for-profit organisation, established to deliver services for disabled people by disabled people in the Auckland and Northland regions.

PIASS Pacific Information Advocacy & Support Services Trust  - phone 09 278 6340

Parent & Family Resource Centre - phone 09 636 0351

The Parent & Family Resource Centre Inc. was established in Auckland the early 1990’s as an umbrella organisation to support families raising a child with a disability.  
  • Disability information and advice
  • Disability support services
  • Interpreted information
  • Navigating the system
  • Queries and questions