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Welcome to our eNews

This eNews is to keep you updated on Women with Disabilities Victoria's priority issues. 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

In this Issue:

A message from our Executive Director

The Women with Disabilities Victoria office reopened after New Year and we have come back refreshed and looking forward to the work that is underway for 2015. We are committed to work with the new Victorian government to ensure the interests of women with disabilities are at the forefront of their planning. I have written to the Premier, Daniel Andrews endorsing the government’s policies with regard to a Royal Commission into family violence and the Inquiry into Disability Care. Jen and I met with Minister Richardson, the Minister for Women and Violence Prevention in December as part of a delegation of family violence services. We discussed the importance of continuing to fund violence prevention work as well as the need for the NDIS to take account of violence against women with disabilities in its roll out.  
We are keen to meet with other members of Cabinet who have responsibility for the areas of policy that we focus on. We are particularly interested to meet Martin Foley who is the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing and  also Minister for Mental Health and Minister for Equality. We will also seek a meeting with Jill Hennessey, the Minister for Health to discuss the important concerns of women with disabilities who are not adequately considered within health policy and by many health services. 
To learn more about our plans for 2015 read on!  
I would like to wish all our members a happy and prosperous new year and look forward to seeing you all out and about.
Best wishes, Keran
Setlla Young's memorial

On December 19th members of Women with Disabilities Victoria attended the memorial for Stella Young. Stella was a Women with Disabilities Victoria member and a former member of the VWDN Collective. The Memorial Service was a fitting tribute for a remarkable woman, a call to arms for human rights campaigners in Australia and it reflected Stella’s diverse interests and fierce intellect.  Graeme Innes spoke at the service and, I am sure, spoke on behalf of all people with disabilities when he said “"I think she really touched a lot of people because she nailed the issue which is that it's not about our disability that's stopping us contributing to society, it's about the barriers that society puts in front of us."   We will remember and honour the profound contribution Stella made as an advocate for women with disabilities. One of the ways we can do this is by continuing to quote her funny, clever words that so perfectly illustrated the issues we face, like in her letter to her 80 year old self.
Enabling Women Leadership Program set for 2015

The Enabling Women Leadership Program is shaping up for a fantastic year. The program supports women to develop their natural leadership skills, confidence as advocates, a familiarity with human rights and local networks. The program has already run 5 times, and this year it is set to run 6 times in 6 different Victorian communities.

More than 50 women are now graduates of the program. Graduates from the program are going on to do exciting things. For example, 4 women participated in a Surf Coast Shire video about leadership, a group have done advocacy around accessible electoral voting, Ash gained employment, Georgia is going to speak at the Having a Say Conference, and Simone will be a panellist in WDV’s Gender and Disability Workforce Development Program. The Barwon women who participated in the 2014 Leadership Program are organising their own reunion to happen early this year. Several local papers have picked up on the Leadership Program and run interviews with participants and facilitators.

If your service would like to host a program, if you would like to be involved in one, or if you just have a few questions, contact the Leadership and Partnership Program Officers:

Jane Oldfield
Phone - 9286 7807

Email -
Days - Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays

Cath McNamara
Phone - 9286 7810
Email -
Days - Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays

PHOTO: Enabling Women program graduates arrive in Melbourne to attend the WDV Annual General Meeting.

Gender and Disability Workforce Development Program update

Gender Equity Training at Gateways Disability Services

Women with Disabilities Victoria has partnered with Gateways Disability Support Services in Geelong to run our Gender and Disability Workforce Development Program.

Co-facilitators will deliver “Human Rights and Quality Services: What does gender have to do with it?” training to Gateways staff. Separate training sessions for managers and disability support workers will begin in February.

Jax Jacki Brown and Eva Sifis are women with disabilities who will co-facilitate sessions. They will work alongside fellow co-facilitators, Jess Boccia (Barwon CASA), Emma Mahony (Women’s Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West) and Kristen Sheridan (women’s health sector). The participation of women’s services has been a successful way to support disability services to work together across sectors.

Peer Education: “Women with Disabilities: Our Right to Respect!” – and how to be involved!

Peer Education training will be delivered to women who use services at Yooralla in Melbourne and Gateways in Geelong during February and March 2015. 

The program is called “Women with Disabilities: Our Right to Respect!”. It was developed by WDV and Dr Patsie Frawley (La Trobe University).
The program aims to:
  • empower women to have respectful relationships,
  • learn about their rights as women with disabilities and what to do and where to go if they experience discrimination and violence
  • promote gender and disability equity
The program has the long term aim of preventing violence against women with disabilities.

Like the Workforce Development Program, this Peer Education Program pairs women’s sector workers with women with disabilities as co-facilitators. Three women with disabilities and three workers from Barwon CASA and South East CASA undertook the three day Train the Trainer for this program, delivered by Dr Patsie Frawley.
If you live in the Geelong area and would like to get involved in the Peer Education Program, there are still some places available.

Contact Pip on (03) 9286 7809 or

PHOTO: Some of the great team working on the Gender and Disability Workforce Development Program.
Opportunity for women with disabilities: “Our Right to Respect!” Women’s Peer Education Program

Are you a woman who accesses disability support services in the Geelong region?
Are you interested in having happy relationships?
Do you want to talk about your rights as a woman with a disability?
Do you want to find out about services in your area that support women’s health and wellbeing and help women experiencing violence?

“Our Right to Respect” is a peer education program for women with disabilities who want to talk about having respectful relationships.

This program is run by Women with Disabilities Victoria for and with women with disabilities. This program will be run in February and March 2015. The program is made up of 4 sessions and each session is 2 hours long.

Course 1 Dates
Monday 16 February, Wednesday 18 February 2015
Monday 23 February and Wednesday 25 February 2015

Course 2 Dates
Monday 2 March, Wednesday 4 March 2015
Wednesday 11 March and Monday 16 March 2015

We will also invite you for dinner and a feedback session on Monday 16 March 2015 from 6 – 7 pm

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm
Where: Courthouse Arts Geelong – Crn Gheringhap & Lt Malop Sts, Geelong

Places are limited!

Contact info
For more information or to join the program:
Call or email Pip on (03) 9286 7809 or
Working with Police and the Courts

Building relationships with police and court services will be an important component of work for Jen, our Violence Policy Officer, this year. Women who experience violence and seek support from services are likely to require access to police and court services. Women with disabilities experience higher than average rates of violence, so it is extremely important that police and court services are accessible for women with disabilities.

In 2014 Victoria Police created a Disability Portfolio Reference Group to take part in the development of their Disability Action Plan. This year Jen will continue to represent WDV in this group. Jen and WDV member, Sonja, are set to continue working with Disability Justice Advocacy in discussing disability with Victoria Police recruits through their Community Encounters program. 

Exciting opportunities have opened up for WDV to work on improving access to courts. Keran and Jen will sit on the Magistrates' Family Violence Taskforce which will identify ways to improve court services for family violence hearings. Staff training and facility upgrades will be on WDV's agenda. Additionally, Jen will join Public Advocate, Colleen Pearce, to deliver a session on disability to Magistrates at the Judicial College of Victoria. 
Making a submission to the inquiry into disability abuse reporting

This year there will be at least two inquiries into the abuse of people with disabilities in disability services. The first will be conducted by the Victorian Ombudsman who is investigating "how allegations of abuse in the disability sector are reported and investigated."

Women with Disabilities Victoria will be making a submission to this inquiry. If you would like our submission to include your experiences of violence or  reporting abuse in or by a disability service, please contact Jen Hargrave.
Email: jen,
Phone: 9286 7800.

To make your own submission to the Ombudsman, visit the Victorian Ombudsman website for details.

All action in the WDV office

It's shaping up to be another big year for WDV Office Manager, Maria. Maria is undescribably brilliant at keeping our busy office running smoothly, she supports the WDV board, manages memberships, and she is investigating ways to improve our IT systems. If your dropping in or calling the WDV office, it is likely you'll be speaking with Maria.

To contact the WDV office ring 9286 7800 or email

A new name for Victoria's 24 hour family violence crisis service
The Women's Domestic Violence Crisis Service has changed names. It is now called Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre. The service still provides a free, confidential 24 hour phone line and the same range of services:
  • 24-hour family violence response
  • Safety planning
  • Safe house accommodation
  • Refuge accommodation
  • Outreach services
  • Information

Contact Safe Steps Family Violence Response 1800 015 188 24 hours 7 days per week
Phone: (03) 9928 9600

Excluding disability workers who are a proven risk to clients
The Disability Worker Exclusion Scheme is a new Government system for keeping a record of workers who are a proven risk to people living in group homes. Some things to know about the scheme are that:
  • government and non-government disability service providers will be covered by the scheme.
  • people who pose a proven risk to the health, safety or welfare of people with a disability living in group homes will be listed on the Disability Worker Exclusion Scheme.
  • it is managed by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.
Contact information
Disability Worker Exclusion Scheme Unit website
Telephone: 03 9096 3203
Disability and family violence crisis fund update

The Victorian Government's Disability Family Violence Crisis Response Initiative began funding disability supports for women and children in family violence crisis in 2010 following sustained advocacy from WDV and the family violence sector. Over the years knowledge of the program has grown in both the family violence and the disability sector.

This last financial year the Initiative has supported 30 women or families from across Victoria. To be eligible for the fund, women and children nrrf to have disabilities covered under the DHHS Disability Act*.

To access the Initiative you need to be receiving support from a Family Violence Service. You can contact the Initiative's worker yourself, or you can ask for your family violence worker to refer you.
*The Act states that people who have a physical, sensory or neurological impairment, an acquired brain injury, intellectual disability or developmental delay may be able to access disability services.
Referrals and inquiries
Leonie Cleary  
Team Leader
Disability & Family Violence Initiative
Client Support Services, Client Outcomes and Service Improvement
Department of Health and Human Services
p. 9843 6304 / m. 0437 741920  
w. Disability Family Violence Crisis Response Initiative
Invitation for survivors of family violence to participate in research with Deakin University

Deakin University is investigating the experience of domestic and family violence. This project is driven by a belief that hearing the stories of family and domestic violence survivors is an integral, yet underrepresented, part of understanding such an important issue within Australian communities.

There are two ways to be involved. Either through an anonymous online survey, or through a 1 hour face-to-face interview which can be held in Melbourne or Geelong. Women who participate in face-to-face interviews are renumerated with a $50 Coles Myer voucher.

If you are interested in learning more, contact:
Elise Cox
PhD Candidate
School of Psychology, Faculty of Health
Deakin University
Locked Bag 20000, Geelong, VIC 3220

Ph. 0420720611

Victoria police force must rid itself of predatory men says commissioner The Age & The Guardian

Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay, a vocal opponent of violence against women, has called in the state's human rights commissioner to run a statewide taskforce into abusive and sexist behaviour among his officers, reported The Age.

In a press conference prior to announcing his resignation, the Commissioner said at least 20 internal sexual harassment investigations over the past three years have revealed "grubby" and "shameless conduct", but the widened taskforce will now handle any and all sexual harassment complaints between officers to ensure the force is a safe place to work.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission will also conduct an independent review, he said, spending its first of three years determining the prevalence of workplace sexual harassment before coming up with a plan to promote equality and publicly reporting on any progress.

"I want to get in front of this. I want to understand the problem. I need help in resolving the problem," Mr Lay said at a press conference with Human Rights Commissioner Kate Jenkins. Content by The Age and The Guardian.


PHOTO: Ken Lay announcing a review of sex discrimination in the force. Video available to view via the Guardian.

The Jean Hailes Foundation wants to hear about your health needs

The Jean Hailes Foundation for Women’s Health is conducting a national women’s health survey asking women about their health needs.
Have your say by completing this short survey or visit to learn more.
The important information you provide will be used to assist health professionals and health organizations to better cater to the needs of women.

While there are not any specific questions on disability, there is room to write what you feel is important for women with disabilities.

All responses are anonymous. A summary of the research results will be available at following completion of this project.

IMAGE: Poster for the Jean Hailes research project. Text: 'It's your health... what do you need?'

Parents with a disability Peer Support Group Meeting

Yooralla’s Parents With A Disability Community Network meets to share experiences and ideas with other parents with a disability and potential parents with a disability. Refreshments will be provided!

Contact: Jeanette Lee on (03) 9916 5800 or email 

Once a month on Wednesdays, 10:30am—12:30pm
Ground Floor, 244 Flinders Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000

Support for women with a disability through pregnancy at the Women's Hospital

The Royal Women's Hospital has an Individual Needs Clinic which welcomes women with disabilities to their service. The service provides a mid wife and a social worker experienced working with women with disabilities. You can self refer to the service, or ask your doctor for a referral.

Address: 20 Flemington Road, Parkville
Phone: The Women's Hospital and ask to get put through to the Women with Individual Needs Clinic on (03) 8345 2000

Disability advocates say Federal Government employment policies not working ABC News

ABC News reports, the number of people living with a disability working for the Australian Public Service fell from 5 per cent in 1999 to just 3 per cent last year.

The latest figure puts Australia behind countries such as Canada, with 5.8 per cent of its public service identifying as living with a disability, and the UK, where the figure is 8.8 per cent.

Both countries have strong employment equity laws which have the effect of encouraging employers to take active steps to hire more people with a disability, and there have been calls from some advocates for Australia to consider similar legislation.

Riki Domagalski, a woman with a disability, says the ongoing search for employment is "demoralising, it really, really is," she said. "I've had roughly 6 months paid work in my entire life."

She said that brief period of employment only made her realise what she was missing.

"To have the taster, it was so liberating. I felt so empowered having that job."

She said the current measures to promote disability employment were not working.

"What employers and the public in general need to realise is that people with a disability are people first," she said.

"We want the same quality of life anybody else not just wants, but is entitled to."

PHOTO from ABC Online: Riki Domagalski searches the internet for work opportunites.

Disability Employment Services to help find and keep work

The Disability Employment Services assist people with disabilities to secure and maintain work with real wages alongside people who do not have disability.

They find employers, create and shape jobs and prepare workers and the workplace culturally as well as physically if need be.
Disability Employment Australia members also maintain a long-term relationship with both employees and employers to help meet any challenges that might arise down the track.

Work can be part-time or full-time and is suited to your skills and abilities - just as it should be.

Disability Employment Australia members don't charge for their services.

If you're investigating work options, your local Disability Employment Service provider is the a place to start. Search for your local Disability Employment Service provider or phone 9012 6000 to find your local service.

Victorian Government guide to equitable recruitment

In 2014 the Victorian Public Service Commission released a guide called Recruiting people with a disability - getting recruitment right. This document is a guide to assist managers with recruiting to ensure equal:

  • employment opportunity for people with disability,
  • that the Victorian Public Service employs the best person for each role
  • and to provide the most appropriate service to the Victorian community.

This guide aims to promote best practice in employing people with a disability throughout the attraction, marketing, recruitment and selection process.


Canadian group take disability-based harassment to the Human Rights Tribunal CBC news

CBC News Toronto reports, a group of residents at a housing co-op say the building's board did not act quickly enough after they were harassed for living with disabilities, and they are now taking their case to a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.  

The harassment began in April 2012, when some residents started finding offensive and demeaning posters plastered on walls throughout the building.

Deborah Crew and her partner Bill Bowerman were frequent targets of the posters.

"It's beyond words how degraded, humiliated, unworthy and unwanted it made me feel. I know a piece of paper shouldn't make you feel like that," says Crew.

Theresa Savoie, the mother of Zachary, the nine-year-old boy living with Cerebral palsy, said the messages became increasingly vulgar over about a six-month period.

Savoie and a group of tenants went to the building's volunteer board of directors, demanding that something be done to end the hateful messaging. The board says they did everything in their power to stop the harassment, including installing additional security cameras and hiring community police. 

But the targeted tenants say the harassment went on for months despite the board's efforts, and three years later, it's still unknown who was responsible. 

The victims would like the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario to lay out the responsibilities of a co-op board in such instances. Savoie says a ruling is necessary to prevent others from dealing with the same demeaning circumstances that her son Zachary faced.

The tribunal will hear the case on Monday and could potentially award the residents compensation and order the building to implement new policies.


Support to make a complaint to the National Disability Insurance Scheme

The Regional Information and Advocacy Council (RIAC) is able to assist people make complaints to the National Disability Insurance Agency. If those complaints reach an unsatisfactory outcome, RIAC is also managing the external complaints process - this is the newly implemented External Merits Review Support Service. The service is available to Victorians who live Barwon.

The service offers specific support for people with disability seeking an external review of a decision made under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. All people with disability will be offered a support person when seeking external merits review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

Phone: p.5245 7986
Funding cuts to ten national disability advocacy services

The Australian Federal Government has made concerning funding cuts to some of the country's best known advocacy services.

In a media release the Australian Federation of Disability Organisatations (AFDO) wrote,

"We believe that this decision, which reflects a misunderstanding of people with disability, will have significant ramifications on the ability of the Government to successfully implement reform for people with disability, including changes to income support and real efforts to increase economic participation."

Consumer organisations that have been defunded or not funded to represent the specialist voice of people with disability under Department of Social Services contracts include:

  • Australian Federation of Disability Organisations
  • Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia
  • Blind Citizens Australia
  • Brain Injury Australia
  • Deaf Australia
  • Deafness Forum of Australia
  • Down Syndrome Australia
  • National Council on Intellectual Disability
  • Physical Disability Australia
  • Short Statured People of Australia
AFDO will continue to advocate on this issue. They are running a Save Our Peaks campaign. To get involved visit the Save Our Peaks webpage which suggests doing the following:
  • Tweet #everydisabilitycounts @scottmorrisonMP @SenatorFifield funding cuts threaten the voice of people with disability.
  • Write to Minister Scott Morrison through Facebook messages and use #everydisabilitycounts in your message.
  • Check the Save Our Peaks page regularly to see what else you can do to help!

She speaks Report: surveying young Australian women on leadership and gender issues

The She Speaks Report (2014) surveyed young Australian women (15-30 year olds) to learn about their views on gender as it relates to their experiences and views of leadership, relationships, health and opportunities.

Key findings related to leadership:
•           7% or 113 respondents identified as living with a disability
•           23% saw effective leadership by women in public life and asked for more energy and funds to be put into leadership programs for women
•           71% wanted to be leaders
•           58% considered themselves leaders at home, school, community &/or workplace.
•           Over 80% felt that Australia had not achieved gender equality.
The report was conduced by YWCA and the University of Queensland


Melbourne’s bentest Deaf and disability performance troupe are back with Quippings.

Quippings is a Disability & Deaf performance night. So come out, you know you want to, and get ready to get all hot under your collar (and hopefully in other places too) as the Quippings crew does Midsumma! Midsumma is Melbourne’s annual Queer Festival and we with our beautifully diverse and subversive bodies and minds will queer this night with all our might!

Doors open at 730 pm and the show starts at 8 pm sharp! This event is fully wheelchair accessible AND Auslan interpreted.

Produced by Jax Jacki Brown. More details soon.

- See more at:
Quippings: Deaf and disability performances

Quippings is a group of emerging and established artists who identify as having a Disability and have been staging shows in Melbourne since 2011. In January the Quippings crew will do a Midsumma show. Midsumma is Melbourne’s annual Queer Festival.

Show details:
January 31st in Fitzroy.
Tickets $12 / $10 concession.
Doors open at 730 pm and the show starts at 8 pm sharp!
This event is fully wheelchair accessible AND Auslan interpreted.
Produced by Jax Jacki Brown.
See more and at the Hares and Hyennas website or at
Quippings have a Facebook group which is a space to discuss all things related to Quippings performances and disability issues/experiences generally. If you are not an artist with a disability but would like like to follow Quippings you can go to the Quippings general Facebook Page.
Alternatively, email or Twitter Quippingsgroup.


PHOTO: Image for the Quippings Midsumma show.

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