Family Leadership


Families have authority (normally) arising from knowing their family member the most fully and over the longest period of time. In this way they have the authority that arises from long term observation, insight and personal relationship.

~ Dr Michael Kendrick, The Natural Authority of Families

What is Family Leadership?

Family leadership is when families/carers of people with disability are supported to gain the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in leadership roles that help contribute to shaping a positive future for their family members and people with disability within their communities. When the family voice is included through meaningful leadership development and opportunities, family leaders acquire the necessary skills to engage in activities critical to affecting change in areas such as policy, systems, services and grassroots change in local communities.

Why is Family Leadership important?

  • To get the best possible outcomes for people with disability and to support families to have a voice
  • To enable effective co-design of systems and services; and
  • Because services cannot be successful without a sound understanding of family leadership

Family Leadership Forum WA – November 2021

In November 2021, The Family Leadership Forum was initiated and hosted by Valued Lives Foundation as a collective community effort in collaboration with a Co-design Planning Group and with the NDIA’s Local Area Coordination Partners in the Community.

The Forum was supported by an Information, Linkages and Capacity (ILC) grant through the Department of Social Services (DSS) and had strong connections to the Peer-to-Peer Networks WA project hosted by Valued Lives as well as other WA family leadership initiatives.

The forum was also strengthened by Valued Lives’ strong connections to the National Alliance of Capacity Building Organisations (NACBO) and the International Initiative for Disability Leadership (IIDL).


Image description: A panel at the Family Leadership Forum

Family Leadership Forum 2021

Attendees at the Family Leadership Forum having a good time and learning lots! 

The Forum’s objective was to reinvigorate Family Leadership activities across WA and develop a sustainable model of ongoing support and resources for family leaders. It set out to reconnect existing family leaders (in both disability and progressively, mental health) and to develop the skill set of emerging family leaders. The connection with mental health is a unique feature of this collective effort, both in regard to people with psychosocial disability and the broader mental health sector.

For more information and outcomes of the Family Leadership Forum WA you can read:
The Full Family Leadership Forum report by using the link here.
The Executive Summary Family Leadership Forum report by using the link here.

Family Leadership Resources and Links

Use the links below to access the resources. is a not-for-profit, community-based organisation based in Marrickville, NSW,  that helps families thrive. One of Plumtree’s innovations include the award-winning Now & Next program, which helps parents develop a vision and skills to achieve positive outcomes for their child, and the entire family. resource on Why Family Leadership is Important resource on Building Family Leadership

The Natural Authority of Family –  Article by Dr Michael Kendrick

Dr Michael Kendrick, speaker, consultant and author in values-based leadership, service design and reflective practice in the community services sector for over 30 years wrote “The Natural Authority of Families” (1996) which is widely regarded as a foundation statement in the sector.

In it he writes: “With great regularity, consumers of services and their families will find themselves having to confront professionals, bureaucrats and others in roles of authority. Not uncommonly the authority of these persons tends to overshadow the authority of “small people”. It can sometimes help to remember that families have a natural authority of their own which can go a long way to reducing this imbalance of power and authority. In order for this to happen, however, families need to appreciate this natural authority and be willing to act on it.”   

You can read Michael’s article by using the link here.

More articles and resources about Family Leadership are available using the links below:

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