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Violence & Disability Quarterly

ISSUE 20: JUNE 2015The Violence Against Women with Disabilities Newsletter is a quarterly publication highlighting projects, resources and research responding to violence against women with disabilities. Past editions are available at
For more information or to contribute, please contact Jen Hargrave, Policy Officer – Violence Against Women with Disabilities, at

In this Issue:

What works to prevent violence against women with disabilities research

Ingrid van der Heijen is a senior scientist in the Gender & Health Research Unit of the Medical Research Council of South Africa. Her 2014 paper, What works to prevent violence against women with disabilities, concludes there is a need for substantial work in this area.

The paper raises issues to consider and pointers for future interventions, including:
  • Interventions need to be informed by evidence and theory of what increases risk of violence against women with disabilities
  • Interventions need to include caretakers as protectors and potential perpetrators
  • Social services and agencies need to be more aware of disability-based forms of violence
  • Interventions need to be developed to empower women with disabilities
  • Social norm change interventions are needed to address perpetuation of social and cultural myths that encourage disability stigma and gender stereotypes, and denial of sexuality of women with disabilities
  • Safety planning discourse and strategies for women with disabilities need to take into account their impairments and the accessibility of their environments

Respectful Relationships program in Western Melbourne

Living Safer Sexual Lives: Respectful Relationships is a free four session program for adults with an intellectual disability.  The program covers rights, respectful relationships and sexuality. It creates a space for people with an intellectual disability to learn and share ways to have good relationships. Peer Educators run the program with supports from professionals with experience in relevant fields.

The program will be run in different locations in the western metropolitan (Brimbank, Maribrynong, Hobsons Bay and Moonee Valley) region of Melbourne in 2015, with the first program being held in Footscray and starting soon. Contact Jess Smart at CoHealth for more information 9680 1136.
Making rights reality for people with disabilities who experience sexual assault: program evaluation launched

The Making Rights Reality program has delivered a tailored legal and sexual assault service to people with cognitive and communication disabilities. Dr Patsie Frawley's program evaluation was launched on the 23rd of July. The evaluation  reports the program received 108 referrals, 80 per cent of these were women.

WDV are proud to have been part of the reference group for this outstanding project which was a partnership between South East CASA, Springvale Monash Legal Centre and the Federation of Community Legal Centres. This evaluation marks the end of the program's pilot, the program will continue to deliver tailored support services.

It is hoped the program will expand to other regions beyond the South East. A recommendation in WDV's submission to Victoria's Royal Commission into Family Violence is "that the Victorian Government commission a quality assured Statewide roll out of the Making Rights Reality program to provide sexual assault and legal support to people with cognitive and communication disabilities."

WDV representatives attended the Making Rights Reality evaluation launch - Left to Right: Dagmar (South East CASA), Fofi (WDV), Jen (WDV), Marg (Federation University), Eva (WDV) and Marija (WDV Board).

What concessions are available in Victoria?

See Victorian concessions: a guide to discounts and services for eligible households in Victoria.
Easy English materials for Victims of Crime

The Victorian Government has Easy English information for victims of crime. Easy English supports people with limited literacy to understand written information. Easy English documents are clear and easy to read, helping a wide range of people to access the information they need.

WDV's submission to Victoria's Royal Commission into Family Violence

WDV has made a written submission to Victoria's Royal Commission into Family Violence. Recommendations span the prevention and response system, and include: 
  • That contracts for prevention work require representation of people with disabilities in development and delivery, and are tailored to reach girls, boys, women and men with disabilities.
  • That the Victorian Government recognise the power of women’s peer support groups and resource programs, including programs for women with disabilities.
  • That the Victorian Government advocate for minimum access features for all new and extensively modified housing.
  • That the Victorian Government, as a matter of high priority, resource violence response services to provide information on laws and supports to women with disabilities. This information must be provided in a range of settings and formats, including face to face and to groups of women
  • That the Victorian Ombudsman investigate discriminatory child protection practices towards women with disabilities.
  • That the Victorian government commission an evaluation of the Common Risk Assessment Framework, with particular regard to improving assessment and response of disability risk factors
  • That the Victorian Government prioritise securing an ongoing funding source for Safe at Home / Safe in the Community Outreach Programs.
  • That the Victorian Government ensure continuation of a Victorian Disability Family Violence Crisis Response, and that eligibility for the program is extended beyond the confines of the Victorian Disability Act.
  • That the Victorian Government influence the National Disability Insurance Agency to provide flexible packages that are responsive to people in transition and crisis.
The submission makes a specific call to the Royal Commission to recognise the strength, resilience, credibility and experiences of people with disabilities by:
  • presenting their stories, using the words ‘targeted’ and ‘at risk’ rather than ‘vulnerable’
  • forming recommendations specific to women with disabilities as a high risk group
  • running hearings and presenting reports so that they are accessible to people with disabilities.
In addition to this, WDV submitted a shared set of principles with our No More Deaths Alliance Partners and another focusing on governance with our partners at DV Vic and the Women's Health Association of Victoria. WDV had the opportunity to meet Commissioners at a consultation with our No More Deaths Alliance partners and a consultation for women with disabilities. The Commission will hold hearings and panel discussions in July and August.
WDV's new submissions on violence against people with disabilities

Through 2015 we have seen multiple inquiries into violence against people with disabilities. WDV has called for gendered responses to this violence. WDV's submissions are available via our website. These are:
  • NDIS Safeguarding and Quality Framework Consultation
  • Victorian Ombudsman's Inquiry into Disability Abuse Reporting
  • Victorian Parliamentary Committee on Family and Community Development Inquiry into Abuse in Disability Services
  • Australian Senate Community Affairs References Committee inquiry into violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings

Women’s Health West call for gender recognition in disability services

Women's Health West have made a submission to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Abuse in Disability Services (Stage 1). Their 9 recommendations include:
  • collection of sex disaggregated data regarding incidence of abuse within disability services
  • a state-wide gender audit of disability services
  • examination of the evidence base for preventing violence against women for in the disability service system
  • funding for disability service providers to implement workplace primary prevention strategies
  • funding for primary prevention programs and compulsory training for services responding to disclosures or suspicion of abuse.

IMAGE of women with a sign, "Equity + justice for women in the West' from Women's Health West
Naming the uncounted people who experience violence in disability services

Bolshy Divas is a Western Australian disability advocacy group who have made a powerful submission titled "The Uncounted," to the Australian Senate Inquiry into Violence, Abuse and Neglect of People with Disabilities in Institutions. An extract follows.

"Family violence is common for disabled people. Last year, a WA father killed his 25 year old paraplegic son, Tyrone Honeywood. 48 year old Perth woman Janene Devine, who had multiple sclerosis, was starved by her husband - she weighed thirty kilos when found in 2007. Her husband served just six months in prison."


Australian and New Zealand Health Association Domestic Violence Conference

The Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association will host the 2015 Australian STOP Domestic Violence Conference in Canberra, 7 - 9 December. This cross-disciplinary program is suitable for administrators, program coordinators, social workers, therapists and all providers impacted by Domestic Violence. The co-occurrence and prevalence of mental health and domestic violence will also be addressed.

If you are interested in joining the national discussion on Domestic Violence in Canberra as a delegate, presenter, sponsor or exhibitor - you can stay informed on Conference developments by submitting your expression of interest or submitting an abstract.


Sue Salthouse appointed to Prime Minister's Advisory Panel

Sue Salthouse has been appointed to the Prime Minister's Advisory Panel to Reduce Violence Against Women. Sue is a leading advocate on reducing violence against women with disabilities, and she is a woman with a disability. Her other roles include Women with Disabilities Australia member, Convener of Women with Disability ACT, Co-chair of the ACT Disability Expert Panel advising the government on the implementation of the National Disability Strategy and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Congratulations to WWDA and Sue for achieving this high level representation. Thank you to WWDA for the information in this item.

PHOTO of Sue Salthouse from the ACT New

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