CAWS has been in operation since 1982. The organisation started as a result of a submission in 1981 by the Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) to form the first Citizen Advocacy program in NSW. Citizen Advocacy is the name given to the committed relationship between a suitable, trained & supported volunteer who provides long-term advocacy to a person with an intellectual disability so that they are no longer alone and unprotected given their relatively powerless circumstances. Vulnerable people with an intellectual disability who are without family or friends are especially in need of at least one loyal long-term ally who is single mindedly committed to them.
CAWS was originally Western Sydney Citizen Advocacy Program Inc. (WESCAP) established in 1982 in Parramatta. The organisation soon moved to Harris Park and in 1990 the name was changed to Citizen Advocacy Western Sydney (CAWS). Over the next 27 years we operated Direct Advocacy and Citizen Advocacy programs across Western Sydney.
In 2017, after much consultation with members and participants, CAWS decided to make some big changes. With the introduction of the NDIS, CAWS was faced with the possibility of losing Advocacy funding. To ensure the sustainability of the organisation we became a registered NDIS provider, changed our name to Community Access Western Sydney, remaining as CAWS, and moved to Lalor Park Community Hub, where we provided Direct & Citizen Advocacy programs alongside NDIS funded support coordination. Advocacy remains our primary purpose and underpins everything we do.
The fight to continue Advocacy funding in NSW continues and CAWS joined other Advocacy services to form the NSW Disability Advocacy Alliance. You can support this fight by going to www.standbyme.org.au
Over time we added other NDIS programs and continued to operate our primary office in Lalor Park Community Hub where you will find our head office today. We also operate out of Lethbridge Park Community Centre & Harrington Park Community Centre. See our services page for all of the programs that are in operation today.
In 2019 we added another program called ‘Together We Can’, this program is funded by the Department of Social Service through the NDIA Information, Linkages and Capacity Building funding program. This program connects people with a disability to volunteers and a group of like minded people with disabilities who are interested in forming a small social group that can provide informal support to each other through recreation and community access activities.