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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:
MS Australia's NDIS blog

MS Australia's blog has some insights into the NDIS. For example:
  • the NDIS can pay for travel - people who have an NDIS plan loose their Centrelink travel allowance and might end up with less funds for travel
  • people who have an MS diagnosis are not automatically eligible for the NDIS
  • and the NDIS does not fund medications.
NDIS information sessions: Northcote and Macleod

Inclusion Melbourne are a disability service provider who are running a series of NDIS information workshops for people with disabilities. The workshops are in Macleod and Northcote and in the day and the evening.

See Inclusion Melbourne's website for details. To book into the NDIS readiness workshops, contact Alice Nicholas at or call 03 9509 4266.
WDV's submission to the ILC consultation

The NDIS have been consulting on the Information Linkages and Capacity Building Framework. This framework will guide how indirect disability supports are funded. Overall WDV support the broad framework principles proposed. However, WDV's submission sets out some key concerns. Some key points are:
  • The framework proposes that 'Informal support and care arrangements are upheld and nurtured.' We have some concern that this goal could at times work against people with disability’s right to safety, autonomy and capacity to exercise choice in pursuing their goals. Whilst we acknowledge the important role that informal supports, particularly family, play in the lives of many people with disability, there are times when family members don’t act in the best interests of people with disability. There are times when family don’t act in the best interests of any family member however well meaning. The difference is that people with disability are often so dependent on family that they are completely constrained from defending their right to control their own life, even well into adulthood.
  • Registered disability service providers should not be eligible to apply for funding for ILC funding to empower NDIS participants because there is a strong potential conflict of interest - providers, with all the best intentions in the world, may easily ‘steer’ participants into their own programs and limit participants thinking about the direction they want to take.
  • The final outcome, “interests of people with disability are faithfully represented in policy/infrastructure design” should be changed to read “people with disability are actively involved in policy/infrastructure design”. (This is an easily measured outcome which will also lead to effective, inclusive design).

Refreshed and re-invigorated: Gender and Disability workforce development training

WDV recently delivered a two day refresher training for current co-facilitators of the Workforce Development Program on Gender and Disability. This program is designed to promote women's rights across disability service organisations. It works with clients, staff, managers and executives.
Co-facilitators who attended the training represented women with disabilities and our partner organisations; Barwon CASA, South Eastern CASA and Women’s Health East.
During the refresher training we were privileged to have three guest speakers on topics which come up in the training:
  • Jana Majkey held a discussion with the group on her experiences in the disability field, a day in the life of disability workers and the challenges they are facing as a sector.
  • Maree Crabbe presented on pornography and its relationship to gender roles and stereotypes - and how this relates to violence against women with disabilities.
  • Lena Sivasailam-Pichler from Project Respect presented on sex work and trafficking in relation to women’s rights and freedom.
WDV is looking forward to a great year of workplace training promoting gender and disability equality.

This article is taken from a longer article by Bianca Evans published in WDV's Violence Quarterly.
PHOTOS: the Co-Facilitators working together with the revised training material to prepare presentations to the group.  

From Left to Right: Sue Rosenhain, Amanda Lawrie-Jones and Bianca Evans (WDV Gender Equity Training Coordinator)

From Left to right: Sam Winch and Jess Boccia

WDV on air with 3CR's Women on the Line

WDV's Keran Howe and Fofi Christou joined WDV Workforce Development Program on Gender and Disability co-facilitators, Eva Sifis and Dagmar Jenkins at 3CR's Collingwood studio late one Wednesday evening to record an interview on prevention of violence against women with disabilities. Aoife Cooke was the interviewer and host of the Women on the Line program. The podcast is now available.
Women on the Line is community radio’s national women's current affairs program which airs every Monday from 8:30am to 9:00am. It provides a gender analysis of contemporary issues, as well as in-depth analysis by a range of women around Australia and internationally and is distributed nationally on the Community Radio Network (CRN).
Keran spoke about the history of WDV of collective action by women with disabilities. Fofi discussed what was on offer to disability organisations through the Workforce Development Program on Gender and Disability.

Eva and Dagmar spoke about their work delivering training to disability organisations, and about their work more broadly. Eva Sifis' work can be found on her forthcoming website in the next few weeks at is a Counsellor Advocate at South Eastern CASA and has been integral part of the Making Rights Reality service that supports people with disabilities who have experienced sexual assault).

Catch 'Women on the Line' on Facebook, Twitter (@WomenOnTheLine) and podcast.

This article is taken from a longer article by Fofi Christou published in WDV's Violence Quarterly.

PHOTO: Montage of the 3CR studio interview by Aoife Cooke (seen in the bottom left photo) with Dagmar Jenkins and Eva Sifis (top right) and Keran Howe and Fofi Christou (bottom right)
Sue Salthouse: "Don't leave women with disabilities behind in domestic violence fight"

Writing in Daily Life, Sue Salthouse says we need national resources dedicated to supporting women with disabilities to be safe from family violence.

"We need financial commitment. We need action. We need all services to have the tools and skills to end violence against women with a disability that stem from what evidence says works to prevent violence against women generally."

Sue says, "As a member of the Council of Australian Government (COAG) Advisory Panel on Reducing Violence against Women and their Children, I was heartened to have the support of fellow members to ensure that a number of recommendations were specific to women with disabilities."

Now it is time for the Australian Government to implement the COAG Panel's recommendations.

PHOTO: Sue Salthouse

Scope seeks research ethics committee members

Scope is seeking a person with a disability who is not currently receiving Scope services to sit on their 'Human Research Ethics Committee.' Meetings happen 4 times a year in Melbourne and Box Hill. Participation costs will be covered. See Scope's site for more information.

STAR forum: Parents with disabilities call for fair child protection laws

In May STAR held a forum to raise awareness of recent changes to the Victorian Children, Youth and Families Act. WDV member, Susan Arthur, spoke at the forum representing the Powerful Parents Self Advocacy Group. Susan and PPSAG are calling for support for parents with disabilities to keep their children at home with them. It is unfair to put parents with disabilities under high levels of scrutiny without providing parenting support.

Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) and Victorian Legal Aid (VLA) have both raised concerns about the unfairness of changes to the Act for people with disabilities and for women in family violence. ABC's World Today reported on warnings that our state is creating another stolen generation.

The changes are likely to be reviewed by Victoria's new Commissioner for Children and Young People later this year. STAR, PPSAG and OPA will be inviting support to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities to have support to parent their children.

STAR informs, empowers and advocates with people with intellectual disability and their families to access the same opportunities available to all Victorians. To join STAR see the membership form on their website.
PHOTO: Susan Arthur, Powerful Parents Self Advocacy Group
Support group establishing for LGBTI people with intellectual disability

The Star Observer reports a new Melbourne group will be established to provide social support for LGBTI people with an intellectual disability. Group organiser Peter Spyker said it’s important for sexuality and gender diverse people with an intellectual disability to have a network of friends with similar experiences.

New full time disability discrimination commissioner named

ABC report, Deaf Society president Alastair McEwin will take up the role as Disability Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission in late July, filling the vacancy left by Graeme Innes in mid-2014.
New Sex Discrimination Commissioner names her priorities

Australia's new Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, spoke at the National Press Club in late April. She shared her priorities.

"I have identified violence against women, economic security and access to decision making as immediate priorities. And I believe that workplaces, universities and sporting fields are great places to focus to help accelerate that change we all want. And part of that change means challenging some entrenched attitudes that we had thought were harmless.

I look forward to a day when men and women are accepted into all walks of life and work - from parenting to rocket science - on the basis of who they are and what they do, and not their gender."

Also in her speech Commissioner Jenkins acknowledged the work of some advocates for gender equality, including WDV's Keran Howe.

"I recognize the amazing achievements of Keran Howe, Executive Director of Women with Disabilities Victoria, who has fought for acknowledgment of the significantly higher levels of risk faced by women with disabilities – twice as likely to experience violence as other women -- and for women with intellectual disabilities, the rates are even higher still." Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner National Press Club speech, 20th April 2016.

Read the transcript of Commissioner Jenkins' speech.

New Victorian Human Rights Commissioner

As Kate Jenkins has left her role at VEOHRC, a new Victorian human rights Commissioner has been announced. Kristen Hilton is currently the Executive Director, Legal Practice with Victoria Legal Aid. The Commission says that 'Ms Hilton was previously the Executive Director of the Public Interest Law Clearing House and has extensive knowledge of current civil law and human rights issues and the needs of marginalised and disadvantaged individuals. She has practiced in the private practice and in a number of community legal centres. Ms Hilton will commence her role on 1 June 2016.'

People with disabilities speak about their own disability discrimination complaints during Law Week

Law Week is coming up with events all over Victoria. There will be free 'Legal Health Checks' coming to a town near you.

You can also come along and listen to the stories and share the experiences of Disability Discrimination Legal Service clients who made discrimination complaints. There will be time to ask questions and find out how to make a disability discrimination complaint. There will also be 'Real Stories: disability discrimination - complaints, challenges and outcomes.'

Details: Melbourne, 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm, May 19. Ross House, 247-251 Flinders lane, Melbourne.
An Afternoon with Graeme Innes AM, Footscray, 20th May

Graeme Innes is former Australian Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Human Rights Advocate and Member of the Order of Australia. This afternoon will be a reflection on a life lived pursuing human rights and social justice.

2.30-3.30pm, Friday 20th May 2016 in the Footscray Town Hall. RSVP by 17 May 2016.

Congratulations to women recognised at the Inspire Awards by Sharon Granek

At the inaugural Inspire Awards® on 21 April an initiative of Funds in Court, a division of the Victorian Supreme Court acknowledged  people with disabilities for their professional contributions, leadership qualities, role modelling and mentoring.

A number of  WDV members were nominated and shortlisted including:
  • Simone Stevens in the Rotary International Best Achievement Award in Community Volunteering category\
  • Susan Arthur in the Disability Advocacy category
  • Maribel Steel in the Australian Writers Guilds Best Achievement Award in the Writing Non-fiction category
  • Colleen Furlanetto in the Best Achievement Awards in Human Rights category
Susan Arthur was presented with the Best Achievement Award in Disability Advocacy. Susan is a parent with an intellectual disability. Because of her experiences Susan established the Powerful Parenting, a  self-advocacy group supporting parents with an intellectual disability through peer support, lobbies government and provides resources around parenting issues.   Susan is also the President of the self-advocacy organisation Reinforce.

The President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, presented the Australian Human Rights Commission Best Achievement Awards in Human Rights to Colleen Furlanetto. Addressing the 200 people in attendance, Professor Triggs spoke about what inspiration means to her. “It’s about encouraging leadership in the community – leadership can be exercised quietly at one end of the spectrum – or, at the other, in a blaze of media publicity. I am particularly pleased with the award category today for speaking out because in my current job I have come to believe that, one way or another, we must speak up and speak out about the injustices we see in society.’

Professor Triggs said that all the nominations were excellent but, Colleen Furlanetto, Mayor of Strathbogie, stood out due to her outstanding contribution to her community. Colleen’s  contribution has improved the individual and group status of women with disabilities as well as her local and wider community. Although she lives and works in a rural area, her reach spreads far wider.  Colleen is constantly seeking out ways she can assist others by initiating and encouraging progress and change.

Colleen has a nursing background, and combined with her personal experiences living with a disability gives her valuable insight. She is always striving to improve and enhance the lives of women with disabilities and those who have experienced family violence.

WDV congratulates Colleen, Maribel, Simone, Susan and all those nominated for an Award.

PHOTO: Gillian Triggs (left) and Colleen Furlanetto (right)
Invitation to union event for women's rights at work

On the eve of the federal election Victorian working women are coming together to decide what they want and how they are going to go about getting it! Join women from a diverse range of unions and women’s community organisations to design our Platform for Action for Victorian Working Women.

Date: 7th June
Time: 8:30am – 4:30pm
Venue: Victorian Trades Hall Council
Access: It is an old building but most events are planned to have wheelchair access. Let the organisers know your access requirements and they'll aim to fulfill them)
Keynote Speakers: Kate Jenkins – Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Ged Kearney – ACTU President

Tips for making social media accessible

Social Media Australia has updated information on how to make social media accessible for users and for people uploading to social media. Some points for people uploading to social media include adding descriptions to photos and videos and captioning videos. For users, Apps can be a pain, mobile web versions can be better, and an alternative Twitter site is
ABC survey of audio description

Did you know ABC has audio described shows through iView and online streaming? Audio description is THE ACEST way to know what is visually happening on TV when you have low vision or blindness. Whether or not you have used audio description through the ABC, you are invited to take this short survey.

Honouring women and girls: free events in Melbourne by the Women's Museum Australia

The Women's Museum Australia is running a range of Melbourne speaking events through May and June. These are complemented by a multi-media exhibition which profiles 9 outstanding women. Speaking events include:
  • Tricia Malowney, Disability Rights Activist, will share her personal and professional journey to empower other women with disabilities to take their place as equal citizens in a society
  • What are the key issues for working women? Be part of a discussion and contribute to the Victorian Government’s Gender Equality Strategy.
  • Feminist Collectives are starting to spring up at secondary schools. Be part of the discussion with students as they examine what feminism means to them. Is feminism still relevant?
  • Doseena Fergie, 2016 Inductee, Victorian Women’s Honour Roll and WoorDungin Founder will share her story of working in indigenous health care, philanthropy and academia, and living across two cultures, Indigenous and white Australia.
  • Family Violence sector representatives discuss the latest thinking and ground- breaking outcomes from the recent Victorian Government’s Royal Commission into Family Violence.
  • Learn about the new “Respectful Relationships” Resource that will soon be mandated in all schools.
Find details and book your place.

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