Women with Disabilities Victoria eNewsletter
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Media Release

New research shows violence against women with disabilities is worse and lasts longer
For Immediate Release
Women with disabilities experience violence to a higher degree and for longer than women in the general population, with stereotypes of disability contributing to this preventable violence. These are among the key findings of a research project, Voices Against Violence, to be launched today by Natasha Stott Despoja AM Ambassador for Women and Girls and Chair, Foundation to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children.
Ms. Stott Despoja said “The Voices against Violence research highlights that when sex discrimination is coupled with disability discrimination, women with disabilities are at an incredibly elevated risk of violence. However, this research also holds the promise of what might be done to stop this violence from happening in the first place - otherwise known as primary prevention of violence against women.
Evidence about the drivers of violence against women shows that the answer to preventing this violence lies in addressing the norms and behaviours that support rigid gender roles and gender stereotyping and in gender equality.  The good news of the proposition of primary prevention is that the norms and behaviours enabled by gender inequality can be changed.”
Voices Against Violence is an initiative of Women with Disabilities Victoria (WDV), in partnership with the Office for the Public Advocate (OPA) and the Domestic Violence Resources Centre Victoria (DVRCV).
“The project has provided a rare and valued opportunity for Victorian women with disabilities to share their experiences of violence, to describe the support they received and to relate their experiences of the justice system. Importantly, women also provided recommendations for changes to the way the family violence service system supports women with disabilities,” said Keran Howe, WDV’s Executive Director, today.
“These are women’s stories, real stories from real women. They reveal the depth of our failure as a society to provide a safe environment for women with a disability, and when that fails, to provide a just and supportive response so that women are again safe.” she said.
The project reports on the extent and nature of violence against women with disabilities in Victoria. As well as interviews with women with disabilities about their experiences of violence, it includes an overview of current issues, a review of legislative protections, a review of the records of OPA and interviews with its staff and volunteers. The project includes seven individual reports.
The Public Advocate, Colleen Pearce, called for an expansion of the powers of the Public Advocate to investigate allegations of violence, abuse, exploitation or neglect as recommended last year by the Victorian Law Reform Commission. Currently, the Public Advocate only has investigative powers in relation to guardianship and potential guardianship cases.

Many typical situations of risk including in private homes, therefore, can't be investigated. 

"We get calls every week about abuse, violence, neglect and exploitation relating to people in their own homes or in nursing homes but we can't investigate them," Ms Pearce said.

"Women with disabilities and mental illness are, arguably at even greater risk of violence in their own homes but we are very limited in what we can do."  

The report found that women with disabilities experience higher rates of violence than women in the general community, they also encounter significant barriers to accessing appropriate support services and justice outcomes. In spite of this, there is a lack of data about the nature and extent of violence against women with disabilities in Victoria. There is also a lack of information and knowledge by services about what we can do to respond to this problem and prevent it from occurring.
As a cross-sectoral investigation of the circumstances of women with disabilities who have experienced violence, the project has provided data that have been used to devise evidence-based recommendations for legal, policy and service sector reform. 
The stark findings of this report highlight the need for recognition of the ways that gender norms and stereotypes can perpetuate and uphold men's entitlement to use violence against women with disabilities.
“Recent public discussion about violence against women shows that the community expects governments to take action to protect women and children from violence,” said Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria’s Executive Director, Virginia Geddes, today.
“This research shows clearly what needs to be done. We call on the Premier Denis Napthine to show leadership in addressing the many barriers to justice and safety faced by women experiencing violence and in particular by women with disabilities,” she said.
The project was funded by a research grant from the Legal Services Board Grants Program and Gandel Philanthropy. We are grateful to these organisations for their generous support of the project.

The reports will be available for purchase and download via our website from 9:00am Friday May 16th:
Media Enquiries: For more information, interviews or for copies of the reports, please email or 03 92867804   


Reminder: Enabling Women Leadership Program

A leadership program for women with disabilities.

Reminder: Meeting for potential reference group members in the Geelong area.
We (WDV) are looking to run our successful 4 day leadership program in Geelong.  

The purpose of this meeting is to establish the level of interest in supporting this program to run in Geelong. Come along meet some of the graduates, hear about the program and find out what’s involved. 

With an introduction to Women with Disabilities Victoria by our Executive Director, Keran Howe. 

Where: Level 2 Conference Room
131 Myers Street, Geelong 3220 (Blue Barwon Medicare Local Building)

When:  Tuesday May 20th
Time:    1.30 am – 3.00m.
Enquiries and RSVP: Jane Oldfield
Partnerships and Leadership Development Officer
Ph: 9286 7807  Email:                 


Download an Application Form



Human Rights 

CEDAW Shadow Report Consultation - Have your say on the human rights issues affecting Australian women with disabilities.

WDV would like to invite you to this consultation and information session. 

YWCA Australia and partners will be facilitating consultations to inform a report to the United Nations Convention to End All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

The Victorian Consultation will focus on The Rights of Women with Disabilities (in partnership with Women with Disabilities Victoria).

Rachel Ball from the Human Rights Legal Centre will be conduct the morning information session on how CEDAW works and can be used.

Jackie Huggins will be facilitating the afternoon session which will be a consultation feeding directly into the development of the CEDAW Shadow Report.

Those who wish to attend a half day are welcome to do so.

When: Tuesday 27th May
Time: 8.30am–4.30pm
Where: Melbourne Multicultural Hub, 506 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne
Accessibility: Venue is wheelchair accessible
RSVPs Essential via
or contact Kiri Dicker, Project Officer 2014 CEDAW Shadow Report
Ph: 0406 862 464 E:

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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