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Welcome to our eNews

This fortnightly email is to keep you updated on the work of Women with Disabilities Victoria, and updated on news related to our priority areas. Contributions to this eNews are welcome, email

In this Issue:

2016 is shaping up as a monumental year of change in the disability sector. National programs are taking shape; the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the National Advocacy Framework and the Quality and Safeguards Framework to name just a few.

In Victoria we have a new State Disability Plan on the drawing board and the outcomes of the Inquiry into Abuse in Disability Care will be forthcoming. Will women's rights have a place? Women with Disabilities Victoria join with other women's and disability advocacy organisations around the country to say that we must. Rights to equality, social participation, gender-sensitive services, justice and safety are all musts.
We are pleased to be working with National Disability Services to ensure that a guideline for disability services to respond to abuse recognises and responds to the particular issues that women face. We are committed to the guideline reflecting a cross sectoral approach, bringing disability expertise and violence prevention / response expertise together.
It is gratifying to read that the Australian of the Year, David Morrison, has a commitment to gender equality and ending violence against women. We were delighted to see his commitment to addressing disadvantage amongst marginalised populations, including people with disabilities.
A number of WDV staff and members presented at the Disability, Human Rights and Social Equity Conference at Melbourne University last week. The conference held rich learnings and presentations on human rights. Many papers challenged traditional paternalistic relationships and shared models of empowerment. It is critical that the nature of relationships are challenged, that power differentials that perpetuate violence, as David Morrison notes, are recognised and addressed.
Women with Disabilities Victoria in solidarity with our members and partners, will continue in 2016 to advocate for this focus to be front and centre in all areas of new policy reform.
Keran Howe
Executive Director

IMAGE: Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo (Disability Advisor in the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice of the World Bank Group) chatting with Keran at the University of Melbourne Social Equity Conference.

Wangaratta to host Enabling women Leadership program - would you like to be part of it?

Do you live in Victoria's North East and want to develop your leadership skills and local networks? You might like to be part of Enabling Women.

This is an opportunity for women with disabilities from diverse backgrounds to come together. Women will share their stories and find solutions to common problems together. It's a space to learn about human rights and develop advocacy skills.

Program details
Where: Wangaratta Regional Study Centre, 218 Tone Road, Wangaratta
When: Wednesdays, April 13 – May 18
Time: 10.00am – 3.00pm

Bern Fraser, email or call 57 223 009
or Jane Oldfield, email or call 9286 7807.

We are excited that this program will be in partnership with Women’s Health Goulburn North East. They will be running a social impact evaluation of the program.
We are also seeking mentors and reference group members to support the successful delivery of the program. Refer to our web site for more information.
Upcoming mployment opportunity in WDV's Enabling Women Leadership Program, Wangaratta

Applications will open soon for a co-facilitator for the Enabling Women program. We are seeking a woman with a disability to work in Wangeratta on a short-term contract through April and May (for around 62 hours of work). The salary is $23 to $27 per hour. The job ad should be up on our website by Monday 15th February. 

For more information contact Jane Oldfield, email or call 9286 7807.

Mercy Health seeks consumer advisors

Have you got ideas on how to help improve Mercy Health services and care, but don’t know what to do? Then become a Mercy Health Consumer Advisor. This can involve:
  • membership of the Community Advisory Group or other committees
  • reviewing brochures and documents
  • working with staff on projects
  • visiting patients to collect their feedback
  • talking to our staff about what it’s like to be a patient or carer.
For more information contact Scott Swanwick, Senior Manager Consumer Participation and Experience on (03) 8416 7859.
One day forum: How to make your lived experience of mental health count - Feb 2

Hear from people who are using their lived experience to make a difference. Meet service providers who employ peer workers. Learn about how NDIS is going to involve peers

The day is organised by the Eastern Dual Diagnosis Consumer & Carer Advisory Council, the Eastern Peer Support Network and Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council

Thursday 25th February 10am to 4pm in Box Hill.
RSVP as soon as possible.
Contact via email: Trish Huddleston.
Cost: No charge. Morning tea and Lunch will be provided.
'Why society is making people with disabilities sick' by Anne Kavanagh

Professor Anne Kavanagh has written a piece for The University of Melbourne about where her research on disability and her experience of disability meet. Extracts follow.

"As a young woman I became aware of other ‘isms’: heterosexism, racism, classism. But, I was middle-aged by the time I recognised ableism.

My son has autism and an intellectual disability. In 2011 I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I had difficulty walking, severe vertigo, fatigue, poor balance. I was disabled.

These experiences have profoundly affected the way I see the world. I regularly witness the social and economic disadvantage many people with disabilities experience...

That’s where my personal experience meets my academic expertise.

I am a social epidemiologist, which means I study how society makes some people healthy and others sick. I’ve studied how where you live, your job and housing affect health. I’ve researched how gender, socio-economic status, race and ethnicity affect health. I now research how having a disability affects health.

When I talk to public health colleagues about my research I am sometimes met with furrowed brows, consternation. What do I mean? After all, doesn’t disability equal poor health by definition? “No, not necessarily,” I say.

The poor health of people with disabilities is often due, in large part, to factors other than the underlying impairment. Read the full article.

IMAGE: Anne Kavanagh presenting her research on the relationship between socio-economic disadvantage and disability and mental health to WDV staff in early February.

Call for abstracts: Lesbian, Bi and Queer women's health conference

The 2nd LBQ Women's Health conference will be in Melbourne in May. Abstract submissions are until the 20th of February 2016. The LBQ Women’s Health Conference program includes four streams:
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Mental health
  • Sexual health
  • Relationships
  • Broader women’s health issues.

Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria Training Calendar

The DVRCV calendar of training events is available online now. There are courses suitable for workers in disability, mental health and other community services.

DVRCV also provides customised training to organisations on a fee-for-service basis. This can be taken from the calendar or specifically developed to meet the needs of an organisation
A journey from family violence to freedom described on YouTube in Aulsan poem

In this beautiful Auslan poem, "Free woman," Kate Frost 2015 describes a journey away from family violence. The short film is available on YouTube (pictured below).

The video has Auslan and Captions but no spoken dialogue, so has low accessibility for blind and vision impaired viewers.

For Family Violence services contact Police or Safe Steps Family Violence Response 24 hours 7 days per week.
t. 1800 015 188.


Volunteers with disabilities wanted for Police training program

Disability Justice Advocacy is working on a project to help train Police recruits and Protective Services Officers in disability awareness at the Police Academy in Glen Waverley.
They are seeking people who have a disability who are willing to meet with Police recruits and PSO’s to help improve their disability awareness at supervised sessions. Volunteers will be part of a small group of 3-5 and the recruits and PSO’s will ask you questions about yourself and your disability because they want to learn more about disability from your perspective so they can be better officers after they graduate.
DJA will support taxi travel if needed.  If you think this may be something you would like to do, please to contact our Project Officer, Sheryl O’Connor. She will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Phone: 9474 0077.
Victorian Women's Trust offer a paid gig for teens writers
17 yr old Rosie Stock is the first guest writer for the Rosie Blog, on the Victorian Women's Trust website for teenage girls. Her piece, 'When Will Feminism Be Part of our Education?,' points out that, "sexism isn't born, it's learnt." Such a great note to start the year on!
Are you a teen writer who would like to write for the Rosie blog? Email: It's a paid gig!

IMAGE: Says, "''To choose to write is to REJECT silence" by Chimanda Ngozi Adiche 5/10/15.'"

Writers wanted for 'Snap'

Snap is a new online disability journal that will be launched  in 2016. It’s a quality  online literary journal that offers an  independent voice for writers with disability or mental illness. Contributions of short fiction, creative non-fiction, essays and poetry are now being sought. Published writers will be paid for their work. For more information contact Katrina Taylor:E:
Councillor Conduct Panel List

Would you like to go on the list of people who can sit on councillor conduct panels? The panels deal with allegations of both misconduct and serious misconduct. Apply or contact

Call for submissions: Inquiry into services for people with autism spectrum disorder

The Family and Community Development Committee is starting an Inquiry into services for people with autism spectrum disorder. Public hearings will be held in Melbourne and regional Victoria in 2016. Have your say by making a submission to the Inquiry. This is an opportunity to raise particular issues for women and girls with Autusm.

The Committee is tasked with examining and reporting on:
  • the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder in Victoria
  • the availability and adequacy of government services across health, education, disability, housing, sport and employment services;
  • the adequacy of NDIS services
  • evidence of the social and economic costs inadequate services; and
  • the projected demand for services in Victoria.

Online consult: What's big for the future of Melbourne?

To prepare for the next decade, the City of Melbourne is bringing the community together to refresh the goals for Future Melbourne. Add your ideas and vision for our city’s future until 31 March 2016.

Darebin Council runs NDIS consultations oline and in person

The City of Darebin will be one of the first Local Governments to be part of the NDIS roll-out beginning on 1 July, 2016. Darebin Council will support individuals, local organisations and services as they transition to the NDIS. Council will also take the lead and advocate for change when issues are beyond Council’s immediate control. 
Have your say
Tell Council you think they can support people with a disability in Darebin. Join the conversation online, or come to one of our community forums starting February 11, 5:30 at Darebin Arts and Entertainment Centre. RSVP essential. Contact or 8470 8124

The law handbook

The Fitzroy Legal Service has recently published The Law Handbook 2016. Some of the best legal minds in the country have updated chapters on privacy, changes in immigration law and a new chapter on trademarks and the environment.
It also includes information on managing money, challenging a will or getting help as a victim of crime, The Law Handbook helps people in the areas of law that most affect them in everyday life, and provides information on where to go for help.
NEW law centre for women charged with criminal offences
The Law and Advocacy Centre for Women is a not for profit law centre for women charged with criminal offences. LACW combines excellence in legal advice and representation for women, with a commitment to holistic and preventative case management and engagement with therapeutic services.
If you want excellence in defence representation, LACW offers you experienced and respected advocates. If you want a service that invests in you as a whole person, LACW’s case management services can help you to connect with the support you need.

Marginalised women are over represented in the criminal justice system, and there has been too little support available - so it is great to see this service in Melbourne.

WDV supports call for a national accessible housing standards

Current housing designs do not cater for many people. Homes cannot be modified without significant expense, and people want greater choice about where they live, and more opportunities for visiting friends and family. One strategy is to provide minimum accessibility in new housing. The Australian Network for Universal Housing Design (ANUHD) with Rights and Inclusion Australia (RIA) want a nationally agreed standard to be called up in the National Construction Code. See the proposal to Standards Australia at

Similar initiatives have been legislated in other countries and features that have commonly been included are:
  1. An accessible path of travel from the street or parking area to and within the entry level of a dwelling.
  2. Doors, corridors and living spaces that allow ease of access for most people on the entry level.
  3. A bathroom, shower and toilet that can be used by most people, with reinforced wall areas for grab-rails at a later date.
While these do not meet everyone’s needs, they do allow most people greater choice of dwellings, to visit others and to manage better the unforseen that life throws at us. 

For this proposal to be successful, ANUHD and RIA need your written support. If you support this proposal, please complete the Stakeholder Statement (at and return it to
Contact ANUHD on 0409 898 498 /

Anna Spargo-Ryan talks about who is faking mental illness

Anna Spargo-Ryan writes for Daily LIfe, "A few days ago, I read an article by journalist James Adonis called 'Mental illness: who's faking it?' . The author talked about mental illness "fakers", and how much they're costing businesses. It was a confronting and dehumanising piece of writing (which Adonis has since apologised for), and I cried while I read it and then posted photos of myself because that's the kind of personality I have.

In one photo, I'm happy because I'm going to dinner with friends. In the other, I'm crying because I read an article about mental illness fakery. In both of them, I'm depressed and anxious." Read more.

El Gibbs explains why the ‘problem’ of housing for people with disability is one for everyone

El Gibbs asks in CripCraokey, "Is it an affordable, accessible housing problem? Or a care and support problem? Or does it expose a deep ambivalence, or even hostility, to having people with disability living in the community? I suspect it’s a combination of all these factors." Read more from El.
Sydney Morning Herald: Disability advocates demand an end to 'slacktivism' and 'inspiration porn'

Jill Stark spoke with disability advocates to write a piece on 'inspiration porn' for the Sydney Morning Herald, January 10, 2016. Extracts follow.

"Carly Findlay, a Melbourne author... and appearance activist is among a growing number of people with disabilities demanding an end to online "slacktivism" that reduces their lives to a world of pity and low expectation.
They argue that heart-tugging social media posts of children with disabilities, promising "one prayer for one like" are demeaning at best, and exploitative at worst.

More concerning, they say, is how many emotive posts presented as awareness-raising for disability are actually "like farming" scams, where the pictures are used without the owner's consent as a way to drive traffic to a site." Read the full article.

Come and hear amazing speakers at QVWC Meblourne throughout March

The Queen Victoria Women's Centre in Melbourne has a series of fantastic free events around International Women's Day. The online schedule describes all events.

One to look out for is "The evolution of activism, how far have we really come?" where Keran Howe will join Joanna Hayter, Tanja Kovac and Karen Pickering to debate whether we achieved more before or after the internet and whether policy development and NGOs are helping. It's on at 6-7pm, Thursday 10 March, Victoria Room at QVWC - reserve free tickets online.

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