Voice At The Table

VATT in Government

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“People with disability have lived experience of disability and must play a central role in shaping and implementing policies, programs and services that affect them”

National Disability Strategy 2010-2020

Quote Icon LINK: Victorian Public Sector Boards and Committees Initiative
Find out about the Government Boards and Committees Inititiative


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“We need to see more people with a disability encouraged to be involved in decision making processes across all areas of society. People with a disability are looking for mainstream opportunities to participate in decision making and take up leadership opportunities across all areas of public life.”

Absolutely Everyone, Victorian State Disability Plan 2017–2020


About Voice at the Table

Voice at The Table aims to increase the number of people with cognitive disabilities sitting on boards, committees and advisory groups within government, service providers, community and mainstream organisations at a local, state and national level.

We partner with teams and projects within Government Departments to help

  • build their capacity to be inclusive, and
  • provide meaningful opportunities for people with cognitive disabilities to advise and influence policies, programs and service planning, development, delivery and evaluation.

In 2018, we are working with DHHS, TAC, Cancer Council Victoria, Safer Care Victoria and several community organisations.

In 2019 we are working with DHHS on the Victorian Public Sector Boards and Committees Initiative. Find out more.

Why is it important?

Civic Participation is a Human Right. But historically, people with cognitive disabilities have not been provided the opportunity to act as representatives, inform policy development or have real input into decision-making. On the rare occasion they do, many express strong concerns about the process. They often find that meetings are not run in ways that support real inclusion, information is not accessible and their opinions while listened to are frequently not acted on, leading to feelings of tokenism and disenfranchisement.

Article 29 of the UNCRPD (2008) enshrines the right of people with disabilities to “effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others”. However, people with cognitive disabilities face multiple barriers to achieving equal and meaningful civic participation. These barriers include:

  • Negative attitudes
  • Limited understanding of the challenges faced by people with cognitive disabilities
  • Inaccessible information
  • Lack of effective support
  • Problems with accessibility
  • Limited availability of training and resources
  • Few opportunities to practice learned skills

Voice at the Table works to redress these barriers and increase opportunities for people with cognitive disabilities to inform and advise government and communities.



What are the benefits?

People with cognitive disabilities, service providers, governments and communities can all benefit from consumer participation.

This image shows how benefits flow for people with disabilities and organisations when consumers participate in decision-making.

Civic Participation is a Human Right

Quote Icon Resource: Civic participation, human rights and Government policy
Learn about civic participation as a human right and Government policy
Quote Icon Resource: Top Ten Tips for effective consumer participation in your department
Read our top ten tips for inclusive practice