Advocacy Training and Development Program

Last updated: 
22 January 2020

What is the Advocacy Training and Development Program?

The Advocacy Training and Development Program (ATDP) is a partnership between the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), ex-service organisations (ESOs) and the Department of Defence.

The ATDP provides nationally accredited training in military advocacy to support ex-service organisations in providing advocacy services to the veteran community. The program ensures advocates meet national competency standards before giving advice to clients on services and entitlements. The program builds on the foundations developed by the Training and Information Program (TIP).

The program is based upon Adult Learning Principles and supports advocates to learn on‑the-job, under the guidance and support of a mentor, with additional online and face-to-face training provided to assist advocates to consolidate their learning.

To date the program has implemented:

  • an Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) accredited national advocacy training program;
  • a regional management structure;
  • a continuing professional development program;
  • a searchable register of ESOs with accredited advocates;
  • a single learning pathway; and
  • support for a community practice model to link advocates, irrespective of the advocate’s ESO or geographical location.

The program is funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

What is the ATDP Governance structure?

The ATDP has a three-tier governance structure consisting of the following:

Is ATDP training accredited?

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) formally accredited the Course in Military Advocacy (10620NAT) on 28 April 2017. ASQA is the national regulator for Australia’s vocational education and training sector. ASQA regulates courses and training providers to ensure nationally approved quality standards are met. Accreditation by ASQA ensures that courses are nationally recognised and meet an established industry, enterprise, educational, legislative or community need.

The Course in Military Advocacy is a competency based training program and places a heavy reliance on experiences gained in the working environment as per the learning framework outlined in the Advocacy Blueprint which was endorsed in late 2015 by the Ex-Service Organisation Round Table (ESORT).

The ATDP offers this course as a single accredited course in Military Advocacy. The course contains six Units of Competency (UoC). A Statement of Attainment is issued to candidates for each UoC which is successfully completed.

What type of training does the ATDP provide?

The ATDP provides training for advocates in military compensation and wellbeing.

Compensation training focuses on developing the skills required to assist veterans, their dependants, war widows and former serving members to lodge claims under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986, the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence Related Claims) Act 1988 and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004.

Training is also provided to more experienced compensation advocates who assist with reconsiderations and appeals to the Veterans' Review Board (VRB) and appeals to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

Wellbeing training focuses on providing the skills to assist veterans, their dependants, war widows and former serving members to access a wide array of Federal, State and Local government and community services, including those that are available from DVA which support wellbeing.

What qualifications are offered under the ATDP?

The ATDP provides training in Military Advocacy. The 10620NAT Course in Military Advocacy has six Units of Competency which are:

  • Military Wellbeing Advocate Level 1 - Advocate qualified to assist a veteran or dependents in obtaining the wellbeing assistance they require, supervised by a suitably qualified advocate.
  • Military Wellbeing Advocate Level 2 - Advocate qualified to assist a veteran or dependents in obtaining the wellbeing assistance they require without supervision.
  • Military Compensation Advocate Level 1 - Advocate qualified to complete a primary claim, supervised by a suitably qualified advocate.
  • Military Compensation Advocate Level 2 - Advocate qualified to complete a primary claim with no supervision.
  • Military Compensation Advocate Level 3 - Advocate qualified for representation of clients at the Veterans’ Review Board (VRB).
  • Military Compensation Advocate Level 4 - Advocate qualified for representation of clients at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

How are new advocates selected for training?

Trainees are selected by their ex-service organisation (ESO) using the Guidelines for the Selection of Trainee Advocates. Ideally new advocates will have been exposed to their role prior to enrolment to ensure their suitability to undertake advocacy work. ESOs then nominate the trainee through the ATDP website. Once this has been done, the nominee must complete an online application form to finalise the enrolment process.

How does the ATDP approach the training of advocates?

The Advocacy Blueprint which provides the strategic framework for the ATDP and specifies that the program should be based upon Adult Learning Principles. This approach is based upon research that suggests that for adults 70% of the skills and knowledge acquired comes from "doing",  20% comes from other informal learning such as through a mentor, while only 10% comes from formal training.

ATDP training features a single learning pathway which refers to specific skills and knowledge that advocates will need to demonstrate at each level before they can progress to a higher level. The single learning pathway includes the Compensation Stream levels 1 to 4 and in the Wellbeing Stream levels 1 and 2.

How long does ATDP training take?

There is no set timeframe for completion of training at any level under the ATDP. The training is competency based and is undertaken at a pace which suits the individual and their exposure to clients requiring advocacy services. Whilst advocates can proceed through ATDP pathway training at their own pace it is expected that this would normally not take more than twelve months for any level of competency. In the case of those working or volunteering full time, the time taken is only a few months.

What is involved in undertaking ATDP training?

Adult Learning Principles are based upon the understanding that adults acquire their skills and knowledge from a variety of sources.

Under the ATDP trainee advocates learn by completing specified activities and entering them in electronic Workplace Experience Logs (WELs).

Trainees are supported by mentors who are experienced advocates who guide them through the workplace experience component of the training and report on their progress. Mentors are often—but not always—from the trainee’s ESO.

E-learning is also undertaken by candidates at specific milestones to complement the workplace learning.

Face-to-face training takes place to consolidate new skills and knowledge once all other activities are completed. These consolidation and assessment programs are facilitated by ATDP volunteers who are also experienced advocates that hold formal qualifications in training and assessment.

How do advocates trained under the Training and Information Program (TIP) transition to the ATDP?

Pension and welfare officers trained under the TIP system can undertake a process of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in order to transition to ATDP accreditation.

Recognition of Prior Learning is an evidence-based process that involves assessment of an individual's relevant skills and knowledge (obtained by both formal and informal learning) against the requirements of a particular Unit of Competency.

This RPL process if successfully completed initially progresses former TIP practitioners to level 1 or 2 qualifications in their chosen stream. Level 2 compensation is a pre-requisite for level 3. Level 3 is a pre-requisite for level 4.

Who can undertake ATDP training?

Trainees must be nominated by an ex-service organisation to undertake ATDP training or RPL. These nominees may include former ADF members, their families, support networks, and or suitable people from the wider community.

Are advocates covered by insurance?

The Veterans' Indemnity and Training Association (VITA) provides professional indemnity insurance for suitably qualified, trained and authorised members of ex-service organisations who give advice to the ex-service community on matters relating to DVA pension and compensation entitlements and wellbeing support.

VITA also maintains an insurance policy providing basic protection for VITA members' advocates for accidents that occur at a client meeting, while travelling to and from a client meeting, and for travel to and from a training program.

Most ESOs have professional indemnity cover through VITA, although some have cover through other providers.

How long are TIP trained advocates covered by VITA insurance?

VITA distributed an Open Letter to its ESO members on 7 December 2017 advising that professional indemnity coverage will not be available for those TIP trained advocates that have not undertaken RPL beyond 30 June 2019 for Level 1 & 2 advocacy work and 31 December 2021 for Levels 3 & 4 advocacy work.

However, please be aware VITA subsequently advised members on 14 May 2019 that it will continue to insure those TIP trained Level 1 & 2 advocates who are genuinely seeking ATDP accreditation and who are already enrolled but are yet to complete their RPL, or have been nominated to do so by their ESO by 30 June 2019. These changes ensure that those Level 1 & 2 advocates in the process of completing, or enrolled in RPL, can remain insured by VITA until 30 June 2020 to achieve their qualification, beyond which VITA cannot offer insurance cover without an ATDP qualification.

VITA has confirmed that Level 3 & 4 advocates undertaking Level 2 work will need to complete RPL Level 2 by 30 June 2019 to be covered for this work.

For more information, please see the VITA information on the ATDP website.

Do ATDP advocates undertake continuing professional development?

Yes. ATDP advocates that are not progressing through the ATDP learning pathway in order to achieve higher qualifications must undertake continuing professional development (CPD).

CPD is one of the key mechanisms by which high standards of professional practice and the relevance and currency of qualifications and experience of ATDP advocates are maintained. The CPD obligations take the form of a points-based program similar to that used by many professions.

The CPD program aims to ensure the on-going provision by ATDP accredited advocates of high-quality services to current and former ADF members and their dependents. It also meets VITA`s requirement for maintaining currency for the purposes of professional indemnity (PI) insurance coverage.

What is the Accredited Advocate Register?

The Accredited Advocate Register (AAR) is located on the ATDP website. The AAR provides a quick and easy way for DVA staff to assist clients to locate and contact ex-service organisations (ESOs) that offer specific accredited advocacy services in a particular area. 

The AAR offers users the flexibility of a number of search methods to locate advocates including by postcode, physical location and organisation. An AAR search will not show contact details of individual advocates, nor are details of non-ATDP advocates recorded.

The AAR also enables ESOs to self-manage their records of ATDP accredited advocates and maintain their own contact details in an efficient, accurate and secure way.