About Us


Mackay Advocacy Inc. - Staff

  • Nina Swara
    Dip. Of Business Management Dip. Of Applied Science (human and community services) Dip. Of Coordination of Community Services
  • Karen Casteel
    Diploma of Community Services - UK, Social Services Certificate in Disability Services - UK, Diploma in Education Support - Special Education - Australia
  • Tamara Plater
    Cert III & IV in Disability Cert III in Aged Care

Who are we:  Mackay Advocacy is an Independent Disability Advocacy Service supporting people in our community from Birth to 65yrs, since 6th June 1997.

What we DO NOT do: Offer legal advice

What is Advocacy: Advocacy is speaking, acting and /or writing to promote and defend the rights, needs and interests of people by promoting and assisting them to speak for themselves, but if they are unable to do so, an advocate speaks on their behalf, presenting things from the persons perspective.

Why do we need Independent Disability Advocacy?

Advocacy is about giving a voice to people who are marginalised and powerless by assisting then to advocate and represent their own interests.

Throughout history, people with disability have been hidden away or subjected to abuse, ignorance and prejudice. The power of disability advocacy over the past century has radically shifted thinking to recognise the rights of all people with disability to live in the community, with choices equal to others.

Today, over 4 million Australians with disability still face many barriers and further significant change is needed to ensure they enjoy the same rights and freedoms as other people. Disability advocacy continues to promote equal opportunity for people with disability to participate in all areas of life including:

  • Safety – More than 70 per cent of women with disability have been victims of violent sexual encounters at some time in their lives and a staggering 90 per cent of women with an intellectual disability have been subjected to sexual abuse. 2
  • Employment – 53 per cent of people with disability of working age are in the labour force, compared with 83 per cent of people without disability. People with disability have nearly twice the unemployment rate of those without disability. 3
  • Education – 36 per cent of people with disability of working age have completed high school, compared with 60 per cent of people without disability. 4
  • Health – 35 per cent of people with disability report poor or fair health compared with 5 per cent of people without disability. 5
  • Income – The relative income of people with disability in Australia is approximately 70 per cent of those without disability, the lowest of all 27 countries in the OECD. As a result, people with disability are more likely to live in poverty. 6

 “The good things in life are universal and include being treated with dignity, respect, acceptance; a sense of belonging; an education; developing and exercising one’s capacities; a voice in the affairs of your community and society; opportunities to participate; a decent material standard of living; a normative place to live; and opportunities for work and self-support” ~ Wolfensberger et al 1996 7 

Over decades, disability advocates have fundamentally shifted traditional models of thinking about disability to a new understanding where society as a whole takes responsibility for enabling inclusion.  

What Disability Advocates Do:

Disability advocacy may include:

  • Providing information to people with a disability on issues, strategies, their human rights and identifying instances of discrimination, including the right to have access to a range of in-home, residential and other community support services necessary to support living an independent, unsegregated life.                                                                                                                       
  • Assisting people with disability to uphold their rights by speaking with and writing to people and organisations to raise awareness of problems and seek solutions
  • Helping people with a disability negotiate complaints processes or legal action to enforce their human rights
  • Assisting in clarifying goals, developing strategies and advocating the views and interests of the person

We are funded by: Currently we receive State funding from the Department of Communities, Child Safety, Disability Services and Queensland Health.


Mackay Advocacy Inc – Management Committee

  • President                                                               Keith Duffy

  • Vice President                                                    Dave Conway

  • Treasurer                                                           Linda McGregor

  • Secretary                                                             Jasmine Rekowski

  • Committee Member                                         Linda McGregor

  • Committee Member                                         Kathy Winterburn

  • Committee Member                                         Shona Fitzgerald






Client Satisfaction Survey - 2018

Provider Satisfaction Survey - 2018