For SHEP, advocacy is about being beside an individual or a group, supporting them to get their voice heard and supporting them to access their rights and entitlements. It is what we all do for each other as friends and family at different and perhaps difficult times in our lives. It is not about making an assessment and taking decisions about what’s in a person’s best interests. It is about listening, supporting, sometimes questioning or challenging a decision, and sometimes speaking up for a person or group. It is fundamental to SHEP’s commitment to empowering vulnerable or marginalised groups and communities and to the promotion of social justice.
A number of key principles underpin SHEP’s advocacy work. These include:
- a fundamental respect for the human rights of marginalised individuals and groups
- the empowerment of the person
- collective empowerment
- group advocacy facilitation as a primary strategy for social justice
- the facilitation of informed choices and decisions
- and the independence of the advocate and the advocacy service.
In SHEP we see advocacy as clearly linked to community development and social justice. It plays an important role in developing civil society and bringing about social transformation.