Grampians disAbility Advocacy Association celebrates 20 years

Disability advocate Fiona Tipping and Grampians disAbility Advocacy Association chief executive Debbie Verdon. Picture: Paul Carracher.

Disability advocate Fiona Tipping and Grampians disAbility Advocacy Association chief executive Debbie Verdon. Picture: Paul Carracher.

The Grampians disAbility Advocacy Association will celebrate its 20th birthday in October.

It is the only funded Grampians individual advocacy service in the Central Highlands region.

The association assists more than 200 individuals with a disability each year across 11 local government areas.

This includes Ararat Rural City Council, Northern Grampians Shire Council, Ballarat City Council and Hepburn Shire Council.

The association’s advocacy has gone from strength to strength over the past two decades with more than 200 members and five outlets now involved in the organisation.

It started during its early days as Ararat-Stawell Advocacy Services.

The service changed its name to the Grampians disAbility Advocacy Association in 1999.

Expansion of its work followed soon after during the 2000s.

The association’s executive officer Deborah Verdon has been with the group for 15 of its 20 years.

She said the 20th anniversary was a momentous occasion for the association and its members, board and staff, who have all contributed to its development since it started in 1996.

“Originally advocacy was provided only in Ararat and Stawell,” she said.

“Then in 2005 funding was secured for Ballarat and Horsham, followed by Daylesford and Bacchus Marsh in 2009.”

Ms Verdon said the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme would provide improved opportunities and dignity for many people with a disability in the Central Highlands area and across the state.

“I guess it means it is big cause for celebration if a small non-profit organisation can survive for 20 years,” she said.

“There is always question over the continuation of government grants.

“The 20 year anniversary indicates we have been robust and met everything required of us by funding bodies.”

The association will celebrate its birthday at its annual general meeting in Ararat in October.

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