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Welcome to our eNews

This e-News shares opportunities to advance Women with Disabilities Victoria’s goals. These issues include violence; access to health services; reproductive rights and parenting, and; access to employment. We welcome and encourage your feedback and contributions to

In this Issue:


Opportunity for women in Geelong: sign up for “Women with Disabilities: Our Right to Respect!” - get in quickly, there's only a few spaces left

“Our Right to Respect” is a peer education program for women with disabilities who want to talk about having respectful relationships.

Is this program for you?

  • Are you a woman who accesses disability support services in the Geelong region?
  • Are you interested in having happy relationships?
  • Do you want to talk about your rights as a woman with a disability?
  • Do you want to find out about services in your area that support women’s health and wellbeing and help women experiencing violence?

This program is run by Women with Disabilities Victoria for and with women with disabilities. This program will be run in February and March 2015. It has 4 sessions and each session is 2 hours long.

Course 1 Dates
Monday 16 February, Wednesday 18 February 2015
Monday 23 February and Wednesday 25 February 2015

Course 2 Dates
Monday 2 March, Wednesday 4 March 2015
Wednesday 11 March and Monday 16 March 2015

We will also invite you for dinner and a feedback session on Monday 16 March 2015 from 6 – 7 pm
Time: 4 pm – 6 pm
Where: Courthouse Arts Geelong – Crn Gheringhap & Lt Malop Sts, Geelong

Places are running out fast!

For more information or to join the program:

Call or email Pip on (03) 9286 7809 or

A Message from our Executive Director

The year is in full swing here at WDV. We have work happening with women with disabilities and across workforces including health, disability and violence.

In the violence area, this week WDV will give a presentation on our Voices Against Violence research at the Inaugural Asia-Pacific conference on Gendered Violence

Next week is the Inaugural Asia-Pacific conference on Gendered Violence and Violations. I will be joined there by Lucy Healey, one of the Voices Against Violence researchers, and am proud that as women with disabilities can highlight our rights to safety and justice on the conference stage.  

In the disability sphere, we are developing gendered factsheets on the NDIS, and contributing to the development of an NDIS complaints processes. Like our peers around the country, we are determined to see the requirements of women met by the NDIS.

Our work in health includes the development of a health services training package which we are working on with the Royal Women’s Hospital.

Our work with women is expanding as we begin new peer programs. It is terrific to be part of growing opportunities for women, and we will share more detail on how to connect with these programs through future editions this eNews.

PHOTO: Keran Howe

Australia Day Awards: honouring women with Disabilities as leaders

Two women with disabilities were recognised as outstanding leaders this Australia Day.

Deaf rights campaigner, Drisana Levitzke-Gray, was awarded Young Australian of the Year. Drisana said,"We need the support of the Australian Government to ensure that deaf children and their families have access to Auslan." She encourages all Australians to learn some Australian Auslan and celebrate Deaf culture.

The late Lesley Maria Hall (pictured) was awarded an Order of Australia for service to people with a disability through a range of executive roles including AFDO CEO, Arts Access Victoria Chair, and of course, founding member of Women With Disabilities Feminist Collective (now WDV).

Lesley's Brother Frank told the Leader Newspaper, “I think Lesley would have been conflicted to receive the award on Australia Day since many Aboriginal people consider Australia Day to be Invasion Day.

However, many other Aboriginal people see it bring the multicultural Australian community together, which she would have supported, as she believed the multicultural diversity of the Australian community makes it stronger.” Mr Hall-Bentick said.

Jess Kapuscinski-Evans, WDV member, wrote a Tribute to Lesley on ABC's Ramp Up (1 Nov 2013); 

"My favourite gem that she gave me was once at a conference she said to me, 'It's all for you. All this work is so that the next generation of people with disabilities can go on to bigger and better things'.

I say to you now, Lesley - I believe you. I believe these bigger and better things are possible."

It is also worth noting that advocate against family violence, Rosie Battie, was awarded Australian of the Year. Rosie's unforgettable acceptance speech calls on the Australian Government and community to step up and respond to family violence.

PHOTO of Lesley Hall from the blog of John McKenna

Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS) Steering Committee is seeking new members


YDAS is going to ask you 4 questions. If you answer yes to all of them then you should consider joining the YDAS Steering Committee. Here are the questions:

  • Are you a young person with or without a disability (between 12-25) who is passionate about the issues and experiences of young people with disabilities?
  • Do you want to get to know and work with other young people across Victoria with disabilities to act on the issues you care about?

  • Want to gain some great skills and experience?

  • Want to have the opportunity to represent YDAS and get involved on a range of projects?

    To see what is involved in the role visit the YDAS committee page or contact Madeleine at YDAS on 9267 3712 or email


Understanding guardianship, enduring powers of attorney and medical decision-making - training by Office of the Public Advocate

OPA provides both professional training and public education sessions on topics including enduring powers of attorney, guardianship and administration and medical consent. Thees include:

  • My Life, My Choices- Understanding what you need to know to plan for your future care - Feb 11
  • You Decide Who Decides, powers of attorney explained - May 13
  • In Their Shoes - Understanding guardianship, enduring powers of attorney and medical decision-making - June 14
Most sessions are free.
For bookings and information visit the Office's education page.

Sexism is making women sick

The Guardian reports, A study published this month in the journal Sex Roles reveals that some of the sexism women face – from catcalling and sexual harassment to sexual objectification and violence – makes women generally more fearful and anxious. The researchers from the University of Missouri-Kansas and Georgia State University found a substantive “link between physical safety concerns and psychological distress”. Read Jessica Valenti's full article via The Guardian.


Mothers with Disabilities are wheelie good

There is still a stereotype that women with disabilities cannot or should not be parents. Because of this, it is often very hard for mothers or potential mothers with disabilities to get access to the support and assistance they need.

Women having this experience have made a Facebook page to share their experiences. To find the group search for 'Wheelie Good Mums' or visit:
Pregnancy and work - a guide to your rights and obligations

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has recently updated its resource for pregnant women, Pregnancy and work: Know your rights and obligations. This booklet provides information on rights in the workplace during pregnancy, parental leave options and tips on returning to work.
Our thanks to Kellie Nagle at the Municipal Association of Victoria for sharing this update.


Job coaching and programs at WIRE

WIRE is running a women's employment program, Building Brighter Futures. The program is for you if you -

  • Do you want to give yourself the best possible chance to find work?
  • Are you an Australian citizen/resident?
  • Completed an Australian qualification no higher than a Certificate IV?
  • Have a disability, mental health issue or long-term health condition?

If YES to all the above questions, then come to an info session to find out more about joining WIRE's women-only employment program

This 26-week job-readiness program starts late February and interested women are invited to come to an info session at 10am to 11am Monday 2 Feb OR Tuesday 10 Feb at WIRE to find out more.

Pam* shares her experience as a participant in 2014:
'I’ve acquired an incredible number of job skills—from writing an excellent resume, having practice interviews and writing cover letters, to learning the art of cold-calling, networking and how to find jobs and training opportunities. All these frightened me before—now I feel confident in pursuing my goals.'

Since WIRE's first program in February 2014, participants like Pam* have reported gaining confidence in their skills as job seekers and employees, with some finding paid work. Women also said that they use the course learnings and skills they have gained in other parts of their lives. Read Pam's full story.

Don't miss out! Call (03) 9348 9416 (Option 2) OR email to find out more or book your place for one of the info sessions on Monday 2 Feb or Tuesday 10 Feb.

Free job coaching sessions
Or if you prefer just to attend a single session to get help with your job search or career, call 9348 9416 (Option 2) to book your free place in a Job Coaching session with a professional job coach at WIRE on Mondays 11am - 1pm.

UN Experts call for stronger accountability around the world  

This Day Live reports, As member States of the United Nations discuss their post-2015 agenda, 10 top UN human rights experts have stressed the need for ensuring accountability.

A statement was released by the Chairpersons of ten key UN Committees, including the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women; the Committee Against Torture and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

They want a reliable and validated means for measuring progress in meeting human rights goals that is based on disaggregated data. They also suggest that progress should be measured in terms of how fundamental rights and freedoms are being protected.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for there to be a robust and participatory monitoring and review framework for the [goals] SDGs at the national, regional and global level,” said Malcolm Evans, Chairperson of the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture and current head of the Treaty Body Chairpersons’ group. See the full article via This Day Live reports 29 Jan 2015.

Inquires into disability-based abuse

Do you think we should have an inquiry into how disability services respond to abuse and violence? It is likely that there will be THREE such inquiries this year, two State and the other National.

A Victorian Inquiry
The Victorian Government is looking set to hold an Inquiry into how disability services investigate reports of abuse.

In addition, The Victorian Ombudsman plans to investigate how reports of abuse in disability services get investigated. She is currently running a consultation on what issues her investigation should cover.

If you would like to contact the Ombudsman's Office about what you think an investigation of the reporting system should cover, see their Inquiry page for details. While submissions for this consultation close on the 15th of February, the The Ombudsman is always keen to hear directly from people who have had experience of reporting abuse, as clients, family members or staff in the sector.

Women with Disabilities Victoria have written a paper to the Ombudsman's Office recommending that an investigation should look at all disability services, including those delivered in our homes. We also encourage the inquiry to consider how the system works for women and people from diverse cultural backgrounds. If you would like to see a copy of WDV's submission, please email

An Australian Inquiry
A national inquiry into 'violence and abuse of people with disability in residential and institutional settings' is expected to begin early this year. This will follow a huge advocacy campaign run by Women with Disabilities Australia and People with Disabilities Australia which included a petition signed by WDV and our Victorian No More Deaths Alliance partners. These calls were heard by Greens Senator, Rachel Siewart who got a motion passed through the Australian Senate for the Government to hold an inquiry. Senator Siewart's address to the senate is available online.

WDV plans to make submissions to both inquiries. Stay tuned for updates. To be involved email Policy Officer,

Moves to make Triple 0 Emergency calls possible via text could help women with disabilities in family violence

The Sydney Morning Herald reports, More accessible: Australians may soon be able to request emergency help via text messages. 

Australians in emergency situations, such as domestic violence or home invasion, would be able to send text messages requesting help from police and ambulance officers under a change pushed by state governments, phone companies and consumer groups.

They say a failure to keep pace with changing technologies is putting Australians' safety at risk. It comes as the federal government launches a review exploring options for triple-0 to move beyond a voice-only service after it goes to tender next year. See more at The Sydney Morning Herald (11 Jan 2015).

Sign your support for family violence services – we can’t afford to see their funding cut

Women experiencing family violence look set to lose critical support services, with more than 50 organisations that provide critical family violence services set to cut staff, slash programs, or close entirely as a result of brutal federal government cuts - unless enough of us speak out against it. Fair Agenda is leading a campaign to do just that.

Can you sign your support and show we won't stand for funding cuts that hurt family violence victims?

DHS worker charged and banned from future disability residential work

The Herald Sun reports, a former Department of Human Services disability worker has been charged with sexually abusing men in Eastern residential care  facilities (Feb 2).

The offender, Craig Gilbert Handasyde, was charged with 19 offences. He has not worked in the disability sectors since December 2013.

The Herald Sun understands a police check was conducted prior to the man’s employment with DHS, but it did not identify any issues. Mr Handasyde made voluntary disclosures to police about his behaviour while working with DHS.

Mr Handasyde’s name has now been provided to the Disability Worker Exclusion Scheme which means he is not permitted to gain further employment in disability supported accommodation.

To get help or report an assault contact the Police or the local Centre Against Sexual Assault.

Artist Asphyxia creates images and donations to DV Vic in tribute of Stella Young

One of Melbourne’s most talented artist / performers, Asphyxia, has used her talents to honour Stella Young. Sales of the beautiful art piece in it’s many versions resulted in a large donation to Domestic Violence Victoria, the organisation Stella’s family nominated for bequests.
Last year Asphyxia carved an image of Stella Young which got printed onto patches. Asphyxia also hand-stamped the image on to postcards. People loved the image and 256 cards were made (which was a lot of hand stamping for Asphyxia).
The stamp itself was sold on Ebay. There were lots of bidders, and eventually it went for $305 to someone who bought it as a gift for a friend. All up the project raised $1400 which Asphyxia donated in Stella's name to Domestic Violence Victoria as a tribute to Stella Young.
If you would like to find out more about Asphyxia, ABC Radio National shares some of her adventures and achievements in an excellent interview, Meet Deaf Performer and Puppeteer Asphyxia.

Image: Stella Young by Asphyxia - iimage reproduced courtesy of Asphyxia
Join the biggest deaf and hard of hearing festival, Gaslight  

The Gaslight Festival is a three-day community festival in Wodonga, Victoria celebrating and using Auslan as the main language.

Incorporating live entertainment, activities, market stalls, an outdoor open-captured cinema and sporting competitions, the festival welcomes deaf, hard of hearing and signing people, their families and friends, deaf clubs, groups and local communities.

The name ‘Gaslight Festival’ refers to the years that deaf people communicated after sunset under gaslights in the days before electricity, and is an iconic symbol for the Victorian Deaf community.

The festival will run from Friday 6 March to Sunday 9 March 2015. Sponsors, stallholders, performers and volunteers are encouraged to mark the dates in their diary and stay tuned for further details on how to get involved.

For more information please contact David Peters, Major Events and Training Coordinator, Vicdeaf at or visit the Festival website.

My Kitchen Rules: Does reality TV do a better job of depicting people with disability? by Carly FIndlay

Carly Findlay is a prominent Melbourne writer, activist and performer who also has a disability. Carly has just written a deep and entertaining piece for Daily Life looking at how reality TV brings disability to our screens. This features a clip of MKR contestant, Emilie; an interview with WDV member, Jax Jacki Brown; and she has even compiled a list of notable contestants with disabilities.

Carly writes,

"Like most reality TV addicts of Australia, I'll be tuning in to the new season of 'My Kitchen Rules' tonight – for the cooking, the snark, and perhaps most of all for Emilie -- a Queensland contestant with a disability.

Emilie has been deaf since birth. She says she has no hearing in her left ear and wears a hearing aid in her right. She is candid about her deafness on the show's preview, laughing at the way punters talk to her and the way some people bizarrely dumb down their language."

Don't miss Carly's piece on Daily Life - and if you like that, then you will love Carly's blog and Tweets (@carlyfindlay).

IMAGE: the Haader from Carley's blog, 'Tune into radio Carly.'
Awards, Funding & Grants
Aboriginal artists with disabilities invited to go global

First Nation/Aboriginal/Indigenous artists with disability are invited to submit an Expression of Interest in an exhibition, which is proposed to be displayed at the United Nations in New York from December 2015. The works of First Nation/Aboriginal/Indigenous artists with disability will appear alongside and compliment the exhibition ‘Unfinished Business’.
To find out more and apply visit Unfinished Business.

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