Development, maintenance and evaluation of a citizen advocacy programme

O'Brien, Patricia Mary (1988). Development, maintenance and evaluation of a citizen advocacy programme PhD Thesis, Graduate School of Education, The University of Queensland.

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Author O'Brien, Patricia Mary
Thesis Title Development, maintenance and evaluation of a citizen advocacy programme
School, Centre or Institute Graduate School of Education
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1988
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Total pages 299
Language eng
Subjects 160702 Counselling, Welfare and Community Services
111709 Health Care Administration
Formatted abstract The study presents the findings of how a citizen advocacy programme was developed, maintained and evaluated. At the time of its inception the Burwood Citizen Advocacy Programme was only the second citizen advocacy programme in Australia. Fifty-nine advocacy couples in which a volunteer (an advocate) was matched on a one to one basis with a person with an intellectual disability (a protégé) participated in the study.

The aims of the study were fourfold. First, the effectiveness of citizen advocacy (Wolfensberger, 1971) in facilitating social role valorization (Wolfensberger, 1983b) through enhancing both the personal competencies and social image of the protégés was investigated. An analysis of the programme's activities revealed an emphasis on the development of both social and practical competencies. Measurements used throughout the time of the programme showed that there was a significant increase in the protégés' overall adaptive behaviour, with specific increases in independent functioning, economic activity, domestic activity and language. However, in terms of social image of the protégés, their self concepts and the advocates' attitudes towards people with intellectual disabilities, no significant changes were found. Nevertheless, the perceptions of the advocates indicated that they had gained insights into how it was to be disabled.

The second aim was to evaluate the appropriateness of the guidelines of the National Association for Retarded Citizens (NARC), USA, (1974a, 1974b) in the development of the Burwood Citizen Advocacy Programme. How each of the ten stages was implemented is described, problems encountered outlined and the perceptions of the advocates and protégés towards the advocacy process reported.

In terms of the activities of the programme a four to one ratio of expressive to instrumental activities was found. The expressive focus of the programme has been defended against Wolfensberger's criticism (1983a) that co-ordinators promote citizen advocacy as a social process. Instead It has been argued that the expressive emphasis within the Burwood programme arose from the Implementation of the NARC guidelines. Further, Wolfensberger's premise (1983a) that co-ordinators avoid matching protégés, who are unable to reciprocate, has come under challenge in view of the finding that only a minority of advocates described their relationships as reciprocal.

The NARC (1974b) guidelines as they relate to matching, training and monitoring have been critized for their orientation towards meeting the needs of the advocates to almost the exclusion of the protégés. This inequality is perceived as ironic, in view of the majority of advocates describing their relationships as imbalanced, and identifying lack of communication on the part of their protégés as the major problem within their relationships.

The third aim of identifying the personality characteristics of advocates and protégés showed that advocates were people who did not exhibit extreme personality characteristics, although a leaning towards achievement and academic pursuits was identified. The protégés showed strengths in several areas of adaptive behaviour and displayed positive self-concepts. When the personality characteristics and self-esteem of the advocates and the adaptive behaviour and self-concepts of the protégés were investigated, for their value as indices of maintenance for advocacy relationships, only three personality characteristics of the advocates, namely those of well-being, flexibility and commonsense were found to be significant. Further exploration of maintenance needs to look beyond the Impact of personal characteristics and competencies of advocates and protégés.

A fourth aim of exploring how advocates and protégés visually Interacted lead to five studies in which the Interactions proved to be devoid of patterns of visual dominance (Exline, Ellyson and Long, 1975; Ellyson, Dovidio, Corson and Vinicur, 1980) Indicating that advocates were not motivated by power, status or control within their relationships. However, overall advocates looked significantly longer than the protégés. This finding, in keeping with the work of Exline (1963), has been interpreted as indicative of the advocates' need to receive some sign of affiliation from their protégés.

A major implication of the overall study is that training both prior to and following the advocacy match is required for protégés as well as advocates. Such training is necessary if equal opportunity is to exist for both advocates and protégés to develop balanced and reciprocal relationships.

Keyword People with mental disabilities -- Home care -- Victoria -- Burwood
Social service -- Victoria -- Burwood
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