About

Started in 2017 by Angela Cox, Special Voices is a bespoke legal practice specialising in solving the unique legal problems faced by families of people with intellectual disability throughout their lifetime.

My story

My name is Angela Cox and I am the Principal Lawyer and founder of Special Voices.

I am very passionate about helping families of children and adults with intellectual disability solve their unique legal problems and challenges as they journey through life together, to minimise their stress.

I understand the pressure, struggle and frustration that parents and siblings suffer as they are forced to navigate through complex and ever-changing laws and policies, and to often do battle with big and impersonal bureaucracies such as the NDIA, Centrelink and Medicare.

This is because I have ‘been there’ and indeed I am ‘still there’ due to my own family’s circumstances.

I have a younger brother with Down syndrome: he has severe intellectual disability and is virtually non-verbal. Growing up in the 1970 – 80s in Perth, Western Australia, I watched my parents fight for the health, education, recreation, respite and later employment and accommodation services that my brother – and also their friends’ children with intellectual disability – needed. 

My parents were actively involved in what were, back then, ‘grassroots’ disability organisations at the fore-front of the formative disability rights movements: Catholic Care for Intellectually Handicapped Persons (now Identity WA) and the Slow Learning Children’s Group (now Activ).

For the past few years, with my father long-deceased and my mother both ageing and frail, I have been my brother’s and mother’s representative and advocate in the NDIS, Centrelink and other systems.

My family’s experiences, my Me and My Brother community arts project (which told the stories of people with disability and their siblings) and my work for the Victorian Government on the design of the then new National Disability Insurance Scheme in 2011-15, motivated me to finally follow the advice that my mother had given  me when I was 18 years old: to become a lawyer for families of people with intellectual disability because (according to mum), ‘they need so much help’. Mothers have a knack for being right, don’t they? So in 2017, I established Special Voices Disability Law and Advocacy.

I currently live in Melbourne, Australia with my dog, Jack. I love writing, running, cycling, hiking and anything to do with plants and animals.

Angela Cox

Principal Lawyer

Testimonials

Qualifications & affiliations

  • Bachelor of Laws, University of Western Australia, 1994
  • Master of Arts (Middle East and Central Asian Studies), First Class Honours, Australian National University, 2006
  • Victorian legal practising certificate, current to 30 June 2022
  • Member of the Law Institute of Victoria, current to 30 June 2022
  • Graduate, Law Institute of Victoria’s Legal Practice Management Course, 2020

Professional experience

1997 - 2002
Lawyer, Philips Fox and Lawrence and Howell

I defended  motor vehicle accident, workers compensation and medical negligence claims.

2006 - 2007
Adviser to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship
2007 - 2010
Senior Lawyer, WorkSafe Victoria

I advised on the preparation of legislative amendments to significantly reform Victoria’s workers compensation scheme.

2011 - 2015
Senior Policy Adviser, Victorian Department of Health and Human Services

I advised on the legal, policy and operational arrangements for the launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Barwon, Victoria on 1 July 2013 and subsequent reforms to NDIS’ frameworks during the launch.

2019 - 2020
Senior Lawyer, Victorian Department of Education and Training

I led a significant reform of Victoria’s children’s services legislation and advised on the legislative interface of Victoria’s education and early childhood systems with the NDIS.

Publications

‘Me and My Brother: Stories of Special Siblings in the Macedon Ranges’, 2014