The story of Advocacy Law Alliance (ALA) began in Tamworth (Advocacy Northwest) and Newcastle (Self Advocacy Newcastle) NSW in 1985 where a small group of locals set up an association to advocate for people with a disability.
In 1994 Disability Advocacy Service Hunter (DASH) was established in Newcastle NSW to advocate for all people with a disability and mental illness. In 2006 DASH and Advocacy Northwest joined forces to become Disability Advocacy NSW (DA) and gradually expanded to cover the Mid North Coast region.
Mid North Coast advocates found that the region was one of the few in NSW that did not have a community legal centre that could ensure disadvantaged people (including people with a disability) get fair access to justice. DA advocates worked over a number of years with local groups to research the legal need and gather relevant evidence to show that a community legal centre should be based on the Mid North Coast.
In 2010 the Commonwealth and NSW governments offered funds to establish a community legal centre. Disability Advocacy NSW was the successful applicant in an open tender and the doors of the new Mid North Coast Legal Centre opened in mid 2011. A new Mid North Coast Legal Centre office was opened in Coffs Harbour in 2019. To reflect the diversity of the services it provided and the alliance between legal and non-legal advocacy Disability Advocacy NSW changed its name to Advocacy Law Alliance Inc and registered the business names Mid North Coast Community Legal Centre and Disability Advocacy NSW.
ALA operates in the regional and rural areas of the Hunter, Mid North Coast, North Coast, Western Sydney, Nepean-Blue Mountains, Central Coast, New England, Western NSW and Far West regions of New South Wales, Australia. The service geographically covers around two thirds of NSW. ALA has locations in in Newcastle, Parramatta, Valley Heights, Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Armidale, Coffs Harbour, Taree, Dubbo, Gosford, Broken Hill, Bathurst and Armidale.
In 2019 we employed a disability law specialist. This project worked so well that we formed Disability Law NSW in 2021 and employed an extra solicitor to provide for the legal needs of Disability Advocacy NSW clients. Disability Law NSW sits within the Mid North Coast Legal Centre legal practice.
ALA is a non-profit group which receives funding from the Commonwealth and State Attorney General’s Departments, Legal Aid NSW, Commonwealth Department of Social Services and NSW Department of Community and Justice.