Women with Disabilities Victoria eNewsletter
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WDV Updates

Gender and Disability Workforce Development Program Update

A five day Gender and Disability Workforce Development Train the Trainer Program was successfully delivered over three weeks in May 2014.

WDV recruited 11 women with disabilities with diverse lived and professional experience, and 11 professional trainers with gender equity training and/or violence prevention and response experience to undertake our Train the Trainer Program in co-facilitation of our gender and disability equity training package “Human Rights and Quality Services: What does gender have to do with it?”. 
A selection of co-facilitators will go on to deliver the training to Disability Support Workers, Mangers and Senior Executives at two pilot sites in Victoria.

The mix of facilitators undertaking the program has significantly contributed to initiating cross sector work in gender and disability equity, linking the multitude of services and sectors participating in the training to collaborate alongside women with disabilities.
One participant spoke about how she linked with another participant in her area to inform her organisation’s disability action plan. 
“The wisdom in the room, people sharing their stories. I was asking her (participant) about the action plan for my workplace … and she gave me all this amazing information that I never would have thought about. And that was really important”
Deb Nicholson and David Ellis (Response Training & Consulting) delivered the training that included:
  • Gender and disability and the inequalities that exist
  • Frameworks and practice in preventing violence against women
  • Integral skills needed to co-facilitate and deliver training to diverse groups of people
Participants also attended the Voices Against Violence research launch. The call to action generated from this event framed the days of training to follow.
The co-facilitators undertaking an activity from the package Some of the most significant learning opportunities within the training arose from the experiential and  interactive processes that enabled participants to deeply examine their own perceptions of their role as co-facilitators in gender and disability equity training. The rich and robust discussion generated by the diversity of participants was a vital aspect of the training.

“I’ve been working in a silo, and it’s great to see different connections, new connections that have been made, and everyone working towards the same goal that we could have and should have been working towards for a long time.” - training participant.

The training utilised a co-facilitation model, bringing together women with disabilities with a diversity of lived and professional experience and professional trainers within the prevention of violence against women sector, is an innovative new approach to combine the knowledge and lived experience of both these groups. The shared knowledge gives strength to the training delivery, as well as voices of women with disabilities.
As one participant noted “Working with people with disabilities, and without disabilities, and being on an equal footing and being able to work together… I don’t know where else it’s been done before”

Eva and Dagmar, two participant doing a presentation

WDV is very excited about the future of the program, and the delivery of training to the pilot sites in the coming months. The training is one aspect of the broader Gender and Disability Workforce Development project, and as facilitator Councillor Colleen Furlanetto said “The training has not been training, it’s been building and empowering the sector”


For more information, you can Download the reflections on the training from co-facilitators Colleen Furlanatto and Mat Kerr.


United Nations Convention to End All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

Human rights issues affecting Australian women with disabilities in focus for a CEDAW Shadow Report consultation

YWCA Australia and partners are running consultations for Australia's report to the United Nations Convention to End All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). In May a Victorian consultation was held in partnership with Women with Disabilities Victoria, with a focus on the rights of women with disabilities.
Rachel Ball from the Human Rights Legal Centre presented on how CEDAW works and can be used. Jackie Huggins facilitated a consultation with women with disabilities and others committed to progressing the rights of women with disabilities. It was great to see WDV members and associate members involved in this consultation, and see some new faces - even some from interstate.
In discussion there was a strong focus on the rights of Aboriginal women with disabilities, women experiencing mental illness, and women from culturally diverse backgrounds.
The release of the Voices Against Violence research (link) findings is timely for referencing in the report. The discussion held will feed directly into the development of the CEDAW Shadow Report.

The report will be available in late 2014.

To learn more about CEDAW see the UN Women Australia Fact Sheet

Work Education Training

Are you looking for work?

WDV in partnership with 4GR is delighted to offer an opportunity to attend work education training.

4GR works with people who may be joining the workforce for the first time, or perhaps facing barriers returning to work.

Navigating your way around the job market can be frustrating.

4GR supports students through a 12 – 16 week class based programme and work placement. They strive to get the best outcomes for each of student. 

Students receive individual attention with class numbers capped at 10 and two 4GR staff in the classroom at all times. Training is about the students and their needs, building your self-confidence and fulfilling your goals.
Success looks different for each student. They work closely with each individual to ensure outcomes are personalised and relevant.

The program will be provided at no cost to WDV members.

The next women’s only course starts on Monday 7th July which will run on a Monday and Tuesday for 12 – 16 weeks (depending on numbers and needs).

The venue will be in Caulfield.
Want to know more? 
Contact: Sharon Granek
Phone:    9286 7802
Gillian Baldwin  0407 890 236
Beth Evans  0402 243 025

For more information, about the training program itself, please download the 4GR training brochure.

Fair Agenda - what the budget means for women with disabilities

A Fair Agenda is an independent community advocacy organisation working to bring about a fair and equal future for women.

They are looking at how this year’s budget will have an impact on women.

The future of the budget — and the controversial measures â€” will be determined by our parliament in coming days.

Soon, MPs and Senators will have to decide exactly which measures they’ll fight for — and understanding the impact they’ll have on the people living in their electorates will be critical to those decisions.

We need to ensure the voices and stories of women with disabilities is heard.

We ask you to tell WDV what the Federal budget means for you. 

Please tell us:

How these budget measures will impact on you and your community?

We will forward your story to a Fair Agenda who will deliver your messages to key decision makers before they cast their votes on these issues.

You can fill out this form to let us know your thoughts.

That’s all you need to do.

If you have any questions or want assistance to tell your story please contact
Sharon Granek., Program Manager
Phone: 9286 7802

For more information about what the federal budget will mean for women with disabilities, please visit our website.


'Life skills' program teaches wrong lesson

This is an extract of an article by Stella Young via Ramp Up 2 Jun 2014 
 Is it any wonder that rates of violence are so high when young women with disabilities are being taught that they have no say in what happens to their bodies? Stella Young writes.

Sometimes you see a story so strange you think you've imagined it. That you're really asleep and having a bizarre dream.

Such a moment occurred for me last week when I came across the story of a teacher at Wangaratta District Specialist School who shaved the armpits of an unwilling 14-year-old female student as part of a "life skills" class.

Yep. That happened.

The incident came to light last week after the young girl's mother called in to Neil Mitchell's show on Melbourne's 3AW. She said that her daughter had been very upset by her teacher's decision to shave her underarms in the presence of two other girls.

According to her mother, the teacher's actions went against the express wishes of the child, who hadn't wanted to shave and was very distressed as a result of the situation. On contacting the school directly, the teacher apparently told the mother that shaving was "part of the curriculum" taught during a "life skills" program for students with physical and intellectual disabilities.

It is unknown whether such "life skills" are taught to the male students of the school, but it doesn't really matter, does it? Because what constitutes acceptable skills for men is entirely different from that for women. It is a truth universally acknowledged that from puberty onwards, the female body is disgusting and unruly and must be tamed, trimmed and tinted to within an inch of its life before it can be allowed to roam freely in the public eye. Why should the bodies of disabled women be treated any differently? If we're going to keep banging on about equal opportunity, we should accept equal oppression via patriarchal standards of beauty too, right?

If anything, disabled women have more of a responsibility to keep ourselves tidy because we've already offended people so egregiously with the fact of our disability. (And in case anyone's sarcasm buttons aren't working today, that was a withering joke)...

...There are real world, devastating consequences for disabled women marginalised by the kinds of attitudes that deny them full agency over what happens to their bodies. Rates of sexual violence against women with disabilities are astronomically high. An Australian Bureau of Statistics survey in 2005 found that approximately 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15. But it has been estimated that a woman with an intellectual disability is up to 90% more likely to experience sexual violence than a woman in the general population.

Just let that sink in for a minute. Up to 90% more likely.

The recently released Voices Against Violence report from Women with Disabilities Victoria investigates the nature of violence against women with disabilities as well as the barriers such women face when accessing supports and the justice system. It paints a grim picture of abuse, neglect and a systematic devaluing of women's autonomy and dignity.

Leaving aside the stories told in this report, I hear shocking stories from disabled women who have been victims of violence on a disturbingly regular basis. One story that often plays on my mind was from a woman my age, a fellow full-time wheelchair user. She told me of how her husband, whenever she had done something to "piss him off", would take her wheelchair away from her, literally imprisoning her. She experienced such intense feelings of shame that she didn't tell anyone for years. When she finally confided in her parents, they defended her husband, saying that she must understand how "frustrating" life with her might be for him.

The Voices Against Violence report also found that many women with disabilities don't report the violence they experience because they don't necessarily recognise it as violence. The report said:

"A lifetime of cumulative discrimination and demeaning experiences normalised experiences of violence for some women."

This is my fundamental concern for the young girl from Wangaratta. Is it any wonder that rates of violence are so high, when young women - especially those with disabilities - are being taught that they have no say in what happens to their bodies?

Full story via Ramp Up:



Free health checks for people with intellectual disabilities.

Easy English mediacal images Did you know that the government will pay for free health checks once a year for people with an intellectual disability?

Have a yearly check-up with your doctor to stay well!

The health check can help you to stay well by finding and treating problems early and telling you how to stay healthy.

Your GP or nurse can remind you when your next health check is due.

The government will pay for your health check each year through Medicare.
If you are interested in learning more about this have a look at the flier attached  which explains more about what you have to do to get your free health checks

You can download the brochure for more information and a document to give your doctor.


Human Rights 

National Disability Strategy

The Department of Social Services (DSS) is preparing a progress report on implementation of the National Disability Strategy (NDS) for the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).  Peak disability organisations were asked to inform the progress report by providing the views of people with disability on the impact of the NDS.
The NDS is a ten year plan to achieve access and equality for people with disability.  It is the Government’s plan to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
People with Disability Australia prepared a submission based on their research activities, feedback from  individual advocacy work and engagement forums conducted through Facebook over the past two years.  These forums have provided invaluable information about what people with disability experience in their daily lives in relation to employment, income support, housing, access to justice and many other issues. 
PWDA also participated in a focus group conducted by DSS for national peak disability organisations, which enabled further information to be shared and provided to DSS.
Overall there are major gaps in achieving the six NDS key areas of action and more resources and focus should be given to address this. 

The six key areas of action in the NDS are:
  1. Inclusive and accessible communities – taking part in the community;
  2. Rights protection, justice and legislation – fair treatment;
  3. Economic security – work, income and housing;
  4. Personal and community support – to live as independently as possible;
  5. Learning and skills – education and training; and
  6. Health and wellbeing – health services meet the needs of people with disability.
For more information, contact Therese Sands, Co-Chief Executive Officer via email

United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - Accessibility.

via Women with Disabilities ACT

Recently, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities issued General Comment No. 2 on the right of people with disabilities to accessibility. A General Comment is the means by which the Committee can record its official interpretation and clarification about the meaning and content of any CRPD right.

The Committee has determined that accessibility must be addressed in all its complexity. Accessibility to the physical environment, transportation, information and communication, and services is necessary to ensure women and men with disabilities enjoy and experience equality and non-discrimination on an equal footing with others.

The principle of accessibility covers goods, products and services provided by both public authorities and private enterprise.

The principle of accessibility takes into account the diversity of people with disabilities and ensures that accessibility is provided to persons of all genders and of all ages and all types of disability.

The Committee has clarified that accessibility is related to groups and is an unconditional obligation; i.e. an entity is not excused from this obligation by referring to burdens of provision for access.

On the other hand, the duty to provide reasonable accommodation is related to an individual. It only exists if implementation constitutes no undue burden on the side of the entity. Ii

View the full PDF for more info.

Employment and Training 

Reminder: Building Brighter Futures Program

Earlier this year the Building Brighter Futures Program was run at WIRE Women's Information.

The program has been very successful with 11 women out of 14 currently completing the program. Participants have reported gaining confidence in their skills as a job seeker and as an employee. WIRE are particularly proud that women are telling them they are taking the learnings and skills they are gaining from the course to other parts of their life.

Because of the program's success, WIRE and BAWN are offering women an opportunity to participate in their second delivery of Building Brighter Futures which will commence in July 2014. 
The Building Brighter Futures Program is a 17-week employment program that offers participants the opportunity to

  • Learn about their strengths  
  • Set meaningful goals for themselves
  • Learn about self-management and wellness
  • Create meaningful career and education pathways
  • Create their own resumes that can be adapted to best suit specific position descriptions
  • Learn in a space where women's needs are respected and understood
WIRE are inviting interested women to be part of the only Building Brighter Futures program tailored to meet the women's needs. Come to one of two our Building Brighter Futures orientation sessions on:
10am–11am WED 18th June  OR 10am–11am TUES 24th June
at WIRE 372 Spencer Street, West Melbourne Map

Read this flyer for more information about Building Brighter Futures including eligibility for a government-funded position. If you have any queries or would like to book in to an orientation session please do not hesitate to contact Julie Kun (WIRE) 9348 9416 (option 8).


Advocacy, Leadership and Representation

WDV Board member Trudy Ryall wins John Monash Award.

Congratulations to WDV Board member Trudy Ryall who recently won a Sir John Monash Award!

Trudy's was awarded the Outstanding Advocate of People with Disabilities award in recognition of her commitment to advocacy,

Mayor Geoff Lake said the council had received 56 nominations from the community for the awards, which were held during National Volunteers Week.

"It's an honour to be able to say 'thank you' to people who have made such a positive difference in other people's lives," Cr Lake said.

"Many of those acknowledged for their service have encountered difficulties in their own lives and have used those experiences to help others."



A message from the Ramp Up team

This is an extract of an article by Stella Young and Karen Palenzuela  via Ramp Up 5 Jun 2014

After much speculation about the future of Ramp Upsince the Federal Budget announcement, we have some news to share.

As many of you are aware, in 2010 the ABC received funding to establish an online destination to discuss disability in Australia.

The funding came from the Department of Families and Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, which is now the Department of Social Services.

Our current contract with DSS finishes on 30 June this year and has not been renewed.

The publication of ABC Ramp Up will cease on 30 June, however the website will remain online as a resource for the disability community. Current comments will remain while new comments on articles will be closed.

For the full article, please visit:

Reminder: Petition to save ABC Ramp Up 

Preserve the ABC Ramp Up website. The only consistent voice for people with disability in the mainstream media.

People with Disability Australia (PWDA) calls on the ABC and the Federal Government to preserve the ABC Ramp Up website which is the only consistent voice for people with disability in the mainstream media.  Cuts in the 2014 Federal Budget mean the ABC will see the cessation of funding for the online disability website, ABC Ramp Up by the end of this financial year (June 2014). 

Failing funding from the Federal Government, we call on the ABC to continue to provide a voice for people with disability through the national broadcaster – a task consistent with its charter which includes a remit to reflect the diversity of the Australian community who fund the ABC from public money.  

People with disability are around 20% of the community and deserve a voice in our ABC.  Since its launch in 2010, the ABC Ramp Up website and its editor Stella Young have been a sparking, vibrant and refreshing voice for disability in a media landscape devoid of genuine disability voices.  It has told stories with power, empathy and compassion and has enabled a stable of growing young writers with disability to develop their passion for writing. 

For more information visit:

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

  • 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?
…Then you definitely should consider joining the YDAS Steering Committee!
About the Committee
YDAS Steering Committee members are young people with and without disabilities who have a voice to Government about issues for young people, work on specific projects, have a say about what our service does and – have some fun at the same time! 
About YDAS
YDAS works alongside young people with disabilities between the ages of 12 and 25 to raise awareness about their rights and to support them to achieve what they want.

They provide one-on-one support through their individual advocacy service and also work on broader social issues affecting young people with disabilities through systemic advocacy. This broader work is directed by the YDAS steering committee.

For more information including what is involved in the role and for an application form, please contact Madeleine at YDAS on 03 9267 3712 or email For more information about YDAS and what they do, please see their website

Social Inclusion and Accessibility

What's normal anyway?

ABC Radio National , Life Matters , Fri 30th May 2014

We like to be different, but not too different, to fit in yet still be individual.
It’s a tension that gets played out in various ways. By parents who want their children to have a “normal” life, to find friends and not be teased. Yet parents can also take great pride in their children being extra-ordinary, better than average and more talented than the norm.

Four celebrated writers challenge us to think deeply about difference and self acceptance:
  • Andrew Solomon author and winner of the National Book Award; Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity (Random House Australia, 2012) and The Noonday Demon (Scribner, 2002)
  • Jo Case author of s (Hardie Grant, 2013)
  • Robert Hoge author of Ugly
  • A.M Homes author and winner of 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction, May We Be Forgiven (Penguin, 2013) and The Mistress’s Daughter (Penguin, 2008)
This program was recorded at the Sydney Town Hall as part of the Sydney Writers’ Festival.


Reminder: Denver University Sexuality and Disability Survey

Volunteers are sought to participate in a study on the sexual experiences of people with disabilities as part of a study.

The study examines levels of sexual satisfaction and definitions of sexual activities in people with physical disabilities.

The study is being conducted by Shanna K. Kattari, M.Ed, ACS, who is a Doctoral student at the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver, and a board certified sexologist. The results of the study will be used to learn more about the sexual experiences of people with physical disabilities.

The study consists of a 10-20 minute online anonymous survey.

To qualify for the study, you must be 18 years of age or older, have one or more physical disabilities (self-defined, and can include chronic pain).

Why participate?

You can:

-Help a doctoral candidate;

-Increase knowledge and understanding around sexuality and disability;

-Provide information to create an ability inclusive sexual satisfaction scale;

-Spend some time thinking about your own experiences of sexuality 

If you would like a copy of the results of the study, the researcher will be happy to provide one for you.

If you are interested in participating, please visit the survey here:  

If you have questions or need further information, please email 

This study has been approved by the University of Denver Institutional Review Board #590570

Out and About - Accessible Events

Reminder: Quippings Disability and Deaf Performance Night

Image of performers from Quippings

Quippings is non-normative space where we, the crips, beautiful freaks, body revolutionaries, non-normative body activists and those with minds who think and see outside the confines of the expected, the boring and the ‘normal’ take to the stage and take up some space, PROUDLY and with passion!

Queers, poets, performers and those looking for something delightfully and unashamedly different and subversive this is an event not to be missed! So come along! Bring your laughter and your friends. 

Quippings shows are unashamedly sexy and subversive and this line-up is set to titillate and entertain you! 

In this show they will be speaking back to the her/history of people with non-normative bodies being part of freak shows/side shows. 

Performers will also be exploring how freak has been reclaimed by the disability rights movement as a pride term. Speaking back to freak aims to showcase works in progress for Quippings up and coming Melbourne fringe show, Quippings: Freaktastic Fringe, which will be under the famous Spiegeltent in October. 

June's line-up includes: 

Kate Hood is a writer, actor and disability advocate. She has had a rich 30 year career as an able-bodied performer in theatre, musical theatre, film and television, starring in Prisoner and major theatrical productions. 

Andy Jackson is a Melbourne poet. His book Among the regulars was shortlisted for the 2010 Kenneth Slessor Prize. He has performed at literary events and arts festivals in Australia, India, USA and Ireland. He blogs about bodies and identity at 

Monika Dryburgh is a youngish Melbournian nerdy multiply mostly-invisibly disabled linguaphile bricoleur. She has studied: Psychology / Neuroscience / Linguistics / German / Gender Studies and if that isn’t enough she is currently attempting an interdisciplinary PhD thesis about the lived experience of fatigue in chronic illness from: sociology of sleep theory / feminist sensibilities / disability research ethics / personal experience.

Electric Vixen (formerly known under many pseudonyms) gets around. She's a spoken word artist, author, professional groupie, Dominant kinkster, blogger, disability and sexuality activist, who likes it any way she can get it. Love is it. 

Kath Duncan is a proud freak and will be get’n her beautiful freak on in a way that guaranteed to warm you up as she takes over the stage! 

DEATH RAY is a long-time crazy mad artist, spoken, written and sung word performer, who has a never been the kind to shut up and sit down. She identifies as feminist, polyamourous, pansexual, and kinked. She lives with C-PTSD, CFS, Fibromyalgia, her darling genderfluid husband, a cat, a dog, and 997 dragons. 

Carly Findlay writer, blogger, speaker, appearance activist and lover. She writes a very successful blog about living with Ichthyosis and visible difference.

Naomi Chainey is a feminist/atheist/leftist/disability rights activist with access to community broadcasting. She came on board the disability rights movement in 2008 when she began working with Grit Media, three years after being diagnosed with ME/CFS. 

Bearbrass Asylum Orchestra  first met in solitary confinement at the Bearbrass Asylum for the Criminally Insane. Since their escape they have dedicated their lives to proving that people with disabilities can be just as drug-f****d, sexually promiscuous and debauched as anyone else. Their debut music video, “Welcome” won the Judge’s Choice Award in the 2013 Focus on Ability Short Film Competition and was the theme song for 3CR’s coverage of the 2013 International Day of People with Disability.

When: Saturday June 14th
Where: Hares and Hyenas 63 Johnson Street Fitzroy
Time: Doors open at 7:30 pm and the show starts at 8 pm sharp!
Tickets: $12 full /$10 concession (tickets available online soon, or at the door)

This event is fully wheelchair accessible AND Auslan interpreted. 
This event is proudly supported by the City of Yarra.

Like the Quippings Facebook page to keep up to date with all their happenings! 
Twitter: @Quippingsgroup

Just for fun

Is language ableist? Sex and women with disability 3CR podcast with WDV member Jax Brown 

Melbourne paralympic athlete Sarah Calati shares her journey as she trains for Rio.

Six emerging writers with a disability showcased their work at the Write-ability Salon at Emerging Writers Festival on Sunday 1 June, 2014. Following a series of advocacy and life-writing workshops for writers with disability, the Write-ability Salon unearthed the sort of unique and powerful stories that usually go untold. 

Read three of the presenters work below:
In case you missed our last edition's just for fun, they can be found below: (they were particularly good ones!)

WDV member Leisa Prowd interviews Hollywood actor Peter Dinklage
Leisa interviews Peter on the red carpet at the Melbourne premiere of the new X Men movie.

Stella Young's TedX Sydney talk
Stella's talk was so good it's gone viral. This week it was featured on both Amy Poehler's Smart Girls and Upworthy.

Cherchez la Femme Podcast Feminism and Disability
Cherchez la Femme is a monthly feminist discussion curated by Karen Pickering, this month featured three women with a disability.

FHS Fightback: A feminist resource kit designed by students
Fitzroy High School has a feminist collective, if that wasn't already amazing, they have a crowd-funding campaign to develop resources to fight sexism!


Get involved, become a member!

“I'm on this path but I've been a bit lost. I felt like I was a solo singer but now I feel like I've got a choir.”  WDV member

What does it mean to become a member of WDV?

Members can contribute to Women with Disabilities Victoria in the following ways:
  • Become involved in one of our leadership programs designed to promote sharing leadership skills.
  • Sharing information with other women through our e-newsletter and email bulletins.
  • Representing women with disabilities on Boards, Committees and forums. These opportunities are circulated to members who have an interest in a particular field.
  • Contributing to government submissions, representations to government and organisations and presentation of conference papers.

There are two types of membership:

Full membership is available to women with disabilities in Victoria. Full membership is free.

Associate membership is open to individuals and/or organisations supportive of the aims of Women with Disabilities Victoria and enables exchange of knowledge, and participation with Women with Disabilities Victoria and its members. Associate membership is $20 for individuals and $50 for organisations (this includes GST).
For more information about membership, visit our website or email
The purpose of this e-News is to inform our members, staff and associates about opportunities to advance Women with Disabilities Victoria’s goals. Women with Disabilities Victoria works to address priority issues for women with disabilities in Victoria. 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
Copyright © 2014 Women with Disabilities Victoria, All rights reserved.

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