The Rights Information and Advocacy Centre is a not profit organisation, founded in 1984 (formally Council of the Disabled and the Regional Information and Advocacy Council). In 1984 the Council for the Disabled GV (Goulburn Valley) Region, was an unfunded self-help group which at that time did not have an office.
In 1986 RIAC received 6 months funding and an office was set up with a paid Co-ordinator and 2 assistants. Its role was to provide Advocacy services within the Goulburn Valley area.
After the funding was exhausted, the Council for the Disabled reverted to a self help group. In the early 1990s a further round of funding was obtained and Carol Hobley-Smith was appointed as Co-ordinator.
In 1998 the Council for the Disabled GV Region took over responsibility for Advocacy for the Loddon Mallee region, and the reference to the GV Region in its title was dropped. In 2000 the name change to Regional Information and Advocacy Council occurred.
In 2005 RIAC and its predecessor, the Council of the Disabled – GV Region celebrated its combined 21st birthday, at a formal function in Shepparton. At the time RIAC had offices in Shepparton, Bendigo and Mildura, and celebratory functions were hold in each of these localities.
June 2013 RIAC in Geelong was successful in becoming the External Merits Reviews Supports for NDIA participant in the Barwon Region, this was to support the participants if they did not like decisions that the NDIA made.
In 2016, RIAC provides disability advocacy assistance to people with disabilities, their families and carers in 22 local government areas across a vast area of central and north western Victoria, Geelong and into southern NSW. RIAC employs 22 qualified staff in 6 offices located in Shepparton, Geelong, Horsham, Swan Hill, Mildura and Bendigo.
RIAC is currently funded by the Australian and Victorian Governments to deliver a range of programs to fulfil its vision: Improving the lives of people by helping to build capacity and wellbeing of individuals, families, carers and communities. RIAC is audited annually by an external auditor and certified every 3 years.
RIAC provides advocacy assistance to people with disabilities and Aboriginal / Torres Strait Islanders. An advocate may speak on your behalf, write a letter with you, assist you to understand and resolve problems and / or complaints, sit by you in meetings to provide support and assist with decision, gather information about other agencies and services that may be of interest to you, provide referrals, and assist you to advocate for yourself. RIAC employs both male and female Aboriginal Advocates to be able to respond in a culturally sensitive manner to those of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community.
Strengthening Parents Support Program (SPSP)
This program assists parents and carers who have a child with a disability or developmental delay to meet on a regular basis for mutual support, networking opportunities, information sharing, education and training.
External Merits Review Support
The External Merits Review Support role is to support any person affected by a National Disability Insurance Scheme decision, to seek an External Review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). The reasons for seeking review are typically that a person has either been denied access to the scheme, or is unhappy with the supports offered by the National Disability Insurance Agency in their Participant Plan.
Access and Support
The Access and Support Program provides support for eligible people, those who are frail and aged, younger people with a disability and their carer’s; who due to their diversity, have barriers to accessing services to assist them to remain living at home within the Bendigo, Swan Hill and Mildura local Government areas.
The ‘Shout Out Shepparton’ and the ‘Speak Up Alexandra’ Self Advocacy Groups were formed to empower people with disabilities and their families and carers. Self-Advocacy Groups are run by people with disabilities to assist individuals to understand their rights and responsibilities. Self-Advocacy Groups support individuals to have the confidence to make decisions and choices about their lives and to have the same opportunities as other members of the community. RIAC employs two Self Advocacy Peer Advisors to provide support, information and education to the members of these groups.