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A Message from Returning CEO Leah van Poppel
I knew I'd be returning to work feeling as though the whole world had changed after having a baby... but I didn't expect it to be quite like this! Along with all of our WDV team, I'm working from home to make sure we can keep ourselves and our community safe. Although our office is closed, you can still contact us via email or phone, and follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to keep up with our work. Our team are busy re-arranging projects so that our workshops for women with disabilities and our training for organisations who want to learn more about gender and disability can be delivered differently. We'll let you know more as soon as we can.

It's been a big adjustment for all of us to be in lockdown for the past few weeks, but I want to acknowledge the particular challenges this poses to women with disabilities. Some of you are probably afraid that catching COVID-19 could have dire consequences for you or someone you love. Some of you will be choosing between getting the health care you need now and risking exposure. Some of you will be grappling with whether to keep vital supports coming into your home. If you're struggling, please reach out to the services set up to help. We've listed some supports in this newsletter, and there's a comprehensive list on our website. 

On a lighter note, there are still some (very small) people in the world who don't know what a pandemic is, and who are just happy to have their parents at home! Meet Max everyone.
PHOTO: Baby boy wearing a jumpsuit smiling at the camera
A Note from WDV

To assist in reducing the spread of Coronavirus, the Women with Disabilities Victoria office will not be open to the public until further notice and WDV staff are all working from home.

During this time WDV staff will not be participating in face-to-face meetings, but will maintain contact with key stakeholders and funders, project partners and members, via email, e-newsletters, website, mobile phone, tele- and video-conferencing as needed.  

We will also be monitoring our WDV email address and our office telephone.

WDV remains focused on delivery of advocacy and funded programs on behalf of women with disabilities in Victoria, within present constraints.

WDV and Coronavirus Information
WDV has published a page of resources for Victorian women with disabilities about Coronavirus. We understand that information about the virus and how to stay safe can be overwhelming. This page has tips for looking after your physical and mental health and services you may need during this time.
Read the WDV and Coronavirus page
Disability Services and Coronavirus
Organisations working to support, inform and consult women with disability are under increased pressure at the moment because of the impact of Coronavirus. These organisations are committed to assisting you as much as possible, however there may be delays and restrictions to how the service can be provided.

Remember that Women's Information Referral Exchange are available via email (, web chat ( and phone (1300 134 130) Mon–Fri between 9-5 pm. WIRE offers social inclusion and wellbeing calls two days a week. If you feel this is something you can benefit from please call and leave a message and they will get back to you.  

Need to talk but can't be on the phone? You can talk to a support worker on WIRE's web chat. Just click the orange 'need support?' button on the bottom left of WIRE's website.

Should you be in immediate danger, please call the emergency services on 000.

Domestic and family violence is rising right now. Have you reached out to friends and relatives that may be at risk? Maybe you're feeling a little worried about a loved one whose partner has been acting controlling during lockdown? WIRE can support you to support them with information and referrals.
Visit WIRE'S website

Gender Equity Victoria and Womens' Organisations Unite 
Gender Equity Victoria presented a joint statement from womens' organisations to the Victorian and Australian Government. As one of 50 organisations who support the statement, WDV calls on governments to recognise women's rights in COVID19 responses. 

In a Zoom media release of the statement on the 2nd of April, Gender Equity Victoria CEO Tanja Kovac said that the low paid, insecure work often done by women is fundamental to keeping us well, healthy and safe. During the pandemic, women are facing additional challenges in their workplaces, at home and in the community.

Mary Crooks Executive Director of the Victorian Women’s Trust talked about the need to sustain the ongoing fight to protect women's rights. 

Debra Parkinson, an Adjunct Research Fellow with Monash University, Women’s Health Goulburn North East and Women’s Health in the North also spoke  Debra has seen women's rights go backwards fifty years in her research on bushfires in communities. 

Women's rights should be acknowledged and acted upon during this public health crisis.

Read the Joint Statement

Is Coronavirus affecting your sexual and reproductive health?
The University of Melbourne is investigating the impact of Coronavirus on the sexual and reproductive health of people living in Australia. 

 You can complete this survey even if you haven't ever had sex, or are not currently having sex. 

The survey will ask questions about you (for example, your age and gender identity), your sexual health and practices (for example, your use of dating apps, how often you have sex, number of sexual partners), your reproductive health and practices (for example, your contraceptive use, pregnancy intentions) and your access to goods and services related to sexual activity.

You will never be personally identifiable in any results published in this study.
Take the Survey

Plan for the Disability Services Sector
The COVID-19 Plan for the Disability Services Sector explains how the disability sector can operate and prioritise their work in this stage of the Coronavirus response.

Read the COVID-19 Plan for the Disability Services Sector
WDV is seeking a voluntary Board Treasurer

We are currently seeking a voluntary Treasurer to join our Board and to Chair the Finance and Risk Committee of the Board.

Board & Committee Meetings (frequency): Every two months
Board & Committee Meetings Held: Usually after working hours
Board & Committee Meetings Held: Melbourne CBD, Victoria

Job Advertisement WDV Board Treasurer

Position Description WDV Board Treasurer 

Applications are ongoing

Expressions of Interest - Board or Subcommittees

  • Are you a member of WDV? 
  • Do you have expertise in either finance or risk, or legal expertise in the Not-for-Profit or Corporate Law fields?
  • Are you interested in becoming more involved in the work of WDV by being a member of our Board or our various subcommittees?

If you answered yes to these questions, then we would love to hear from you.

Please send an email to with a short statement about yourself and your area of expertise, either risk and finance or legal (NFP/corporate governance).

 We will then contact you to discuss your interest.

Be part of our Spotlight on 'Invisible' Women project
Are you a woman with disability aged between 50 – 65 years living in rural, regional or metro Victoria? We would love to hear from you!

The ‘Spotlight on Invisible Women’ project is aimed at engaging with  women in this age group to identify your needs and improve the provision of information. We would like to hear what life is like for you.

A survey has been designed to capture the unique barriers experienced by older women with disability in rural, regional and metro areas across Victoria

Results of the survey and community consultations will be captured in a report designed to influence and inform national and specialist organisations (e.g. disability-specific organisations) and the Victorian government. The final project report will provide feedback and recommendations on the findings of the surveys.


Complete the Spotlight on Invisible Women Survey
WDV are contacting members
We are currently telephoning members to make sure the contact details we have for you are correct. 

Unfortunately we are unable to make calls from the WDV desktop office phones at present as we are working from home due to the Coronavirus. This means that all of our calls are being made from mobiles at the moment.

This project has been very rewarding; we have loved talking to those of you we have already contacted and look forward to speaking to the rest of you in the coming weeks.                                                                                                          
Share your story at the Disability Royal Commission

The Disability Royal Commission is investigating ways to prevent violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation against people with disability. If you need information in your own language about making a submission, call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450. Ask to be connected to 07 3734 1900. 

Here are some methods by which you can share your story.

Visit the official Disability Royal Commission website
View the PDF infographic which explains how to submit a story
Disability Resource Centre is holding online workshops as part of their Transport Campaign

The Disability Resource Centre are hosting a series of free online workshops aimed at building skills and advocating for Victorian Public Transport to be accessible to everyone.

These sessions take place every Tuesday from 11am - 12:30pm.

Everyone is welcome, participation is FREE. Sign up here, and you'll be sent a Zoom link via email. 

Sign up to the Transport Campaign workshops
Blind Citizens Australia are holding online Happy Hours!

Blind Citizens Australia is hosting online catchups to connect with their community.

Here is the schedule:

  • Tuesday, 28th April 7:30pm – Guide Dogs NSW / ACT Mobility Instructor Ryan talks all things dog guides.
  • Wednesday, 29th April 10:45am – Movement to Music
  • Wednesday, 29th April 11:00am – Not sure what to watch? Have you got a recommendation for a great movie or series?  Share what’s been filling your screen lately.
  • Thursday, 30th April 7:30pm 
  • Friday, 1st May 10:45am – Movement to Music
  • Friday, 1st May 11:00am – Looking for some dinner ideas? Join Naomi Barber as she talks cooking with Matthew Goodacre and Valerie Maudie.
  • Saturday, 2nd May 8:00pm – Join John as he digs through his games’ chest.
  • Monday, 4th May 10:45am – Movement to Music
  • Monday, 4th May 11:00am 
  • Tuesday, 5th May 7:30pm – There’s an App for everything these days. What are your favourites? Stephen Jolley is on hand to share some of his recommendations.
  • Wednesday, 6th May 10:45am – Movement to Music
  • Wednesday, 6th May 11:00am – What’s life like in Texas? Join Steve Richardson as he interviews drummer, music producer and director of the Music Academy at Enchanted Hills Camp, Lawrence Brown, live from Texas, USA.

To join the catch ups, use the following details:

  • If you are using a computer, laptop or tablet you can click on this link:
  • If you are using a smart phone, you can tap on this number: +61370182005,,291084578#
  • If you are using a landline, you can dial: 02 8015 6011 and enter the code: 291 084 578

If you’d like to host a Happy Hour or, if you have an idea for a topic send your thoughts to Sally Aurisch –


Watch films from the 'Focus on Film' festival

Take your pick from more than 1300 free short films and documentaries  as part of the Focus On Ability Short Film Festival. The majority of these productions have subtitle and/or audio description options.

Search the Focus on Ability Database
Wyndham's new Check In and Chat service

Wyndham City Council’s new Check in & Chat service is a phone chat service available to anyone in the community, who may be feeling lonely and would benefit from a regular phone check in and friendly chat.

The service is also available in languages other than English including Punjabi, Hindi, Mandarin, Tamil, Tigrinya, Amharic, Gujarati, Konkani and Spanish.

Further languages are also supported through TIS National translating and interpreting service on 131 450 (just let them know you’d like to speak with Wyndham City Council on 9742 0777).

NDIS and Young People webinar

Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) and the NDIS are offering three webinars for young people with disability and families with children with disability. The NDIA CEO, Martin Hoffman and NDIS staff will provide an overview of the NDIS response to COVID-19 and answer key questions raised by young people with disability and families.

Register for May 5 webinar (for NDIS participants under 7 years old)
Register for May 7 (for NDIS participants between 7 and 18 years old)
Register for May 12 (for NDIS participants between 18 and 25 years old)
Workshop on reasonable adjustments at work for employees with chronic illness or invisible disabilities

As part of Law Week 2020 —a week long event organised by the Victorian Law Foundation— the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission is running a series of information sessions and webinars to help Victorians better understand their rights.

A session has been designed to give practical guidance on making requests for reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities in the workplace. It will clarify the entitlements of employees to make requests and what the law says. It will outline ‘best practice’ approaches to making a request, what information to include, as well as addressing privacy and expectations around the process. This session will include time for Q and A.

Time and date: 11am to 12pm, Thursday 21 May 2020
Who should attend: The session is designed for employees with chronic illness and invisible disabilities.

For more information and to register visit Eventbrite

News and Comments

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