Earlier this month Advocacy for Inclusion was contacted by Nathan Despott from Inclusion Melbourne. We were honoured to be asked us to present our Voting Kit at the Political citizenship and people with intellectual disability seminar. The seminar was a collaborative event presented by ASID, Inclusion Melbourne and the Living with Disability Research Centre.
Our Voting Kit was included as an example of best practice. http://www.advocacyforinclusion.org/index.php/resources/voting-kit.
The voting kit was developed in 2013 following consultation with our self-advocacy network and answers many of the questions that they have raised about their right to vote.
We discovered that some self-advocates had taken their name off the electoral roll because they didn’t understand voting. Others had never bothered to be enrolled because they found it too confusing.
The aim of the kit was to assist voters to get out there and to participate. As Christina Ryan our CEO points out “All Australian citizens have the right to vote, but people with disabilities don’t always feel confident in exercising that right”
The voting kit was designed in plain English to help people understand voting. It is designed to help the voter identify what their key issues are and it helps access candidate and party positions and of course information on how to go and vote – all things needed to be able to make an informed choice. The kit is broken down into 4 key areas and therefore into manageable pieces of information.
Our experience facilitating self-advocacy groups is that people can become easily overwhelmed and confused by a lot of information all at once. By breaking things down into separate key areas people are then able to take away information and process it, be able to ask questions and then move onto the next one. It is important to revisit the information as well. So discussion about voting and politics happens regularly in our self-advocacy groups.
Canberra has recently had local elections as well as the federal election. Our stats show that our voting kit was viewed over 2000 times over this period. In the week following the Seminar our stats showed that our Voting Kit had been viewed over 200 times!
When recently asked about views on voting one of our self-advocates made the important point “everyone's vote is equal no matter who you are”