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WDV Updates

Seasons greetings to all WDV members and subscribers! 

From all at WDV we hope you have a relaxing, safe and accessible festive season.

Our office will close on December 24th 2014 and reopen on January 6th 2015.

In October 2014, Women with Disabilities Victoria ran our Enabling Women leadership program for women who have a disability in the Barwon region. 

Surf Coast Shire who partnered with WDV on the program created this short film that tells the story about the success of this program.

Image of Enabling Women graduates

PHOTO: Whitehorse violence prevention forum presenters, Anita Koochew (Eastern Community Legal Centre), Sylvia Daravong (Ethnic Communities Council Vic), Jen Hargrave (WDV) and Maureen D'Arcy (City of Whitehorse)
Preventing violence against women in the City of Whitehorse
'Stop working in silence' was the theme for the City of Whitehorse violence prevention forum held on the 28th November. The forum brought together workers from many sectors and speakers considered how violence can be experienced by a diversity of women including older women and women from culturally diverse communities. Disability was well represented through a presentation by WDV Policy Officer, Jen Hargrave, forum support provided by WDV Board Member, Ann-Marie Baker, and forum planning by Whitehorse Metro Access Officer, Maureen D'Arcy. 

PHOTO: Whitehorse violence prevention forum presenters, Anita Koochew (Eastern Community Legal Centre), Sylvia Daravong (Ethnic Communities Council Vic), Jen Hargrave (WDV) and Maureen D'Arcy (City of Whitehorse)

Do you live in the Yarra Ranges? Your Metro Access Officer would love to hear from you.
WDV members living in the Yarra Ranges are invited to make contact with Amanda May, the local Metro Access Officer. She is keen to learn more about issues for local women with disabilities, and would like to share relevant information on disability related issues and community events in the Yarra Ranges.
Amanda May
MetroAccess Officer
Yarra Ranges Council

P: (03) 9294 6741
M: 0419 310 308
F: (03) 9294 6239

Vale Stella Young – a shining star  

Stella is dearly loved by the whole community, and all of us here at Women with Disabilities Victoria. Stella became famous across the country for her sharp writing and commentary on panels, and her hilarious comedy. Stella’s untimely passing is a huge loss for our community. Our thoughts are with her family.
Executive Director of Women with Disabilities Victoria said, 'Stella's contribution to the Australian community as a whole reflects her importance as a social commentator of her time. Our loss is huge.' 
Stella was committed to addressing both ableism and sexism, and spoke out about how they lead to violence against women with disabilities. She was a loud, proud clear voice saying that women with disabilities have a right to respect.
WDV chair, Marija Groen comments, “She was, and will remain, a shining star for women, women with disabilities and everyone who believes in human rights and social justice. Her capacity to make real change through consciousness raising and humour is a testament to her generosity of spirit and her steadfast determination.”
The Guardian reported that Stella Young’s family asked for those wishing to pay tribute to donate to Domestic Violence Victoria in her name, “as she was also a passionate advocate for that sector.”

Celebrate the life of Stella Young.

A public memorial service will be held to rejoice in the life, achievements and legacy of the fabulously dishonourable comedian, journalist and disability activist Stella Young.

When: 11am Friday 19 December (Doors Open at 10am. The service concludes at 12pm)
Where: Main Hall, Melbourne Town Hall (Enter via ramp on Collins St)
Access:  Auslan, open captions, audio description and a hearing loop will be available.  

The memorial will also be broadcast on the big screen at Fed Square and featured on ABC News 24 and on digital radio 774 ABC Victoria for those unable to attend.

The dress code is criptastic: red and white spotted shoes, bright colours and no black. Pink or purple hair is a definite bonus, as is the incorporation of chenille stems.

The service is open to everyone. Admittance will be on a first come, first served basis. Please note that latecomers will not be admitted.

Image of Stella Young's memorial flyer


Why does the media downplay sexual assault?

via women's agenda

The other day a newspaper headline screamed 'Hunt on for tram sex pest!' in a story about a man who's been sexually assaulting women on Melbourne trams for months.

I felt unsettled thinking that any journalist, or subeditor, thought the word 'pest' was fitting. (Not to mention the fact that 'sex' implies a consensual encounter.)
Is 'pest' really the right word to describe such a man? A pest is someone or something that's annoying or a nuisance. Peak hour traffic, yes; an unruly child, maybe.

But surely a sexual offender is not a pest? A man once exposed himself to me on a train and I can tell you that 'pest' was not the phrase that sprung to mind.
It's tempting to describe these offenders as scum of the earth but in news reporting that can be tricky. Why not 'perpetrator', or 'sexual offender', as the Institute of Family Studies suggests in its media guidelines on sexual assault reporting?

Sexual assault, and violence against women, is a considerable public health issue in our country. Yet in much the same way that our politicians often seem to be out of touch with everyday issues, there's a significant disconnect between the reality of sexual assault and violence against women and the way it is reported.

Yesterday a Melbourne woman was found murdered in what police are saying is a suspected murder suicide. The Age reported that Detective Sergeant Tremain said this: "These are just shocking circumstances of two people who couldn't work out their differences and it's ended in a tragedy like this."

Is murdering a person and then killing yourself, really a matter of not being able to "work out your differences"? That language seems woefully inadequate in conveying the brutality of what actually occurred here.
Why are we so wedded to minimising or trivialising these issues?

The state of reporting
Our Watch's Hannah Grant says that whilst violence against women and their children has almost daily media coverage in Australia, it rarely demonstrates an understanding of the links between sexism, gender inequality, community attitudes and this violence.

She says in the worst case scenarios, some reporting or commentary actually perpetuates or excuses precisely the kinds of attitudes and myths that give rise to the violence in the first place.

"According to a recent report on Victorian print media, 83% of coverage is 'events based' rather than 'thematic'. This means single incidents of violence against women are covered without information on the magnitude of the issue," she says. "And one third of women in the general community did not know where to go for outside help to support someone about domestic violence. This is hardly surprising given only 2% of articles included information about where to go for domestic and family violence services."

Reflects community views
Perhaps the language the media uses reflects our community's attitudes on violence towards women, as unearthed in the National Community Attitudes Survey on Violence Against Women.

Among the survey's most worrying findings, was the fact that Australians still excuse, trivialise or justify acts of abuse towards women.

Grant says there are many examples of reporting which reinforce rigid gender stereotypes and make out a victim is somehow to blame for the violence inflicted upon her.

"In the case of the brutal murder of Mayang Prasetyo in Brisbane for instance, Ms Prasetyo was disgracefully described as a 'she male' or 'transgendered prostitute' - implying her profession or gender somehow influenced the circumstances surrounding her murder."

"Like the emphasis on Kim Hunt's disability in reporting after Geoff Hunt murdered her and their three children, the emphasis on Ms Prasetyo's gender and profession cements the notion that certain characteristics of a victim's life somehow makes their murder more excusable and the perpetrator less culpable. This is victim blaming and it must stop."

How can we do better?
Journalists are surely required to commit to a higher moral standard than anyone who thinks a slap is OK, or that no might actually mean yes.
Grant says the media has an important role to play in helping shape attitudes and perceptions that give rise to a culture of silence; traditionally domestic and family violence was considered a 'private matter'. In effect this minimises violence against women and children.

"There need to be more articles explaining the links between sexism, gender inequality, community attitudes and this violence," Grant says.

"It's also essential that every article published about domestic and family violence includes a sentence about where to get support - call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit In an emergency, call 000. With small changes such as these, media have the power to help many women and their children get much needed support and assistance."

What do the outlets say?

I asked News Limited and Fairfax about their accountability in this regard but received nothing.

The Australian Press Council, which is responsible for promoting good standards of media practice, was more forthcoming, saying it's concerned about the use of euphemisms in media reporting of facts or expressing opinion in relation to sexual assault.

And its Chair, Prof Julian Disney is considering engaging in discussions about media coverage of violence against women and children with Natasha Stott-Despoja, Ambassador for Women and Girls.

Hardly a giant leap for womankind, but better than nothing.

A journalist's role is a privilege and journalists should be accountable. Without accountability, how can we have trust in the fourth estate? We really need to at a time when the other three estates are so wanting.

Have you seen a media report that plays down sexual assault, or judges the victim? Let's call them out.

* If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit In an emergency, call 000.


How I celebrated International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Every year on December 3rd, I like to take the opportunity to create awareness for persons with disabilities and just drop little thought-provoking notations to get people to think differently. It is after all International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

For this years event, I spent not just one, but two days to celebrate persons with disabilities at the United Nations in New York. It is usually me with the microphone and doing the talking.

But this year I took the opportunity to sit back and really listen and take in all of the great things that people are doing all over the world to enhance the lives of people with disabilities.

This year’s theme is Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology. All of us are living in a world where we are reliant on technology to function. For people without disability, technology makes life easier.

However, for people with disability, technology makes things possible. Technology opens doors and creates new and different ways of enabling communications, whether that be for hearing, vision or mobility impairments.

Mr Abe Murray from Google pointed out to us all – “We are no longer living in a world of Science Fiction, we are living in Science Reality”.

For the 15% of the Global population of persons with disabilities, the discussions at the United Nations were to ‘examine good practices and lessons learned in the planning and implementation of policies and strategies to promote accessible technologies for sustainable development in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all.’

One of the greatest eye openers for me at the end of day one, was a ‘Q & A’ session where it absolutely, seriously, blew me away how different persons across the world are doing great things – but not many knew what others were doing.

I suppose it is great to have forums run by the United Nations to share this information, but it made me think? We all have the same goals listed above, so is there a better way to share this information? How do we really and truly share what the different barriers for people with hearing impairments experience in Belgium, and leverage the best practice on what Poland are doing?

Our goal is to ensure that these technologies for persons with disabilities are not just for people who can afford it. As Stephen Hawking said on the day: “We need to make technology available for those who need it, so no-one lives in silence”.
We all have a voice, and for persons with disabilities our voice is the only way we can enable what happens in our own lives moving forward.

We need to change attitudes of others, lesson the barriers for participation, and forge ahead with enabling technology to ensure we can shout to the world and share out ideas!

Nothing about us without us!

Amanda Lawrie-Jones is a WDV member and 2014 Brenda Gabe Award nominee.

Human Rights 

International Twitter campaign: women and girls with disabilities


In an effort to gather momentum for increased attention to women and girls with disabilities on the international agenda, the International Disability Alliance (IDA) has launched a twitter campaign calling on women and girls with disabilities and allies worldwide to send in their messages and demands on what they want from the international community.

Now is the moment to communicate these messages in the lead up to several international events which will significantly impact upon the rights of women and girls with disabilities including Beijing+20, the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda, processes related to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the World Humanitarian Summit, among others.

Start tweeting your messages to: #WeWwdWant 

Or send your message to Women with Disabilities Australia and they can tweet it for you. Post on WWDA's Facebook Page  or email them at:


Research & Training

Invitation to participate in research about economic family violence and economic hardship.

Women’s Legal Service Victoria (WLSV) is seeking to interview 30 women about their experience of family violence and financial hardship.

By participating in this research you will help them better understand the experience of women who seek help in relation to their legal and money problems after family violence.

The service hopes to use this research to improve these systems. This research will be published in 2015.

If I agree to participate, what will I be asked to do?

If you choose to participate in this study you will be asked to participate in a face-to-face interview with the researcher. The interview will take approximately one hour. The interview is able to occur at a place of your choosing.

A follow-up interview will take place approximately two – six months after your participation in an initial interview. This follow-up interview will likely occur by telephone and take approximately 20 minutes.

Will my disability support needs be met?
WLSV can organise interpreters if required.
WLSV can organise aides or other assistance for women with a disabilities or health issues that make it difficult to participate in this research.

Please notify the researcher of your health or personal care requirements.

What will happen with the information I provide?

The audio of the interview will be recorded by the researcher and the recording will be transcribed later by either the researcher or a research assistant. The interview and all research data will be stored on password protected computer systems and in locked cabinets at the WLSV office.

Your interview, or parts of it, may form a part of the published research report.

The findings of this study will be published in academic and practitioner journals and reports, and presented at conferences. Evidence, case studies and quotes from the interviews may form part of the public advocacy that WLSV does in the future to promote changes to the legal and financial systems. The material we publish could take the form of tweets, e-bulletins, media releases or other published material. 

We will not name you in the report, or in any published material.

We will change all names, addresses and ages disclosed by participants prior to publishing the research.

We will make all possible efforts to anonymise your story including changing any identifying details where possible.

However where details are required in order to describe a systemic issue, details of the story (other than your or your family member’s name/s, address and age/s) will need to remain the same.

How to get involved or find out more:
The researcher is available to answer any questions about the research, your participation or other concerns.

Contact Emma Smallwood at or by phone; 03 8622 0624.

Invitation to participate in Deakin University research on women’s experiences of family violence.

Deakin University is currently undertaking an Australia-wide study on the experience of family and domestic violence. The research is based at the School of Psychology at Deakin University in Geelong and Melbourne.
The researchers believe that hearing the stories of family and domestic violence survivors are an integral part of understanding such an important issue within Australian communities.

So the researchers are seeking to capture the experiences of adult women domestic and family violence survivors, whose voices we feel need to be paramount in any study and on all issues.

Findings will provide information to assist health providers, policy makers, police, corrections, and judicial bodies in a bid to reduce rates of family and domestic violence within Australian communities.
Who is eligible to be involved?
adult (18+) women survivors of family and domestic violence.
There are 2 ways you can be involved
  1. Anonymous Survey
Participants will be invited to complete a survey. The survey will take approximately 30 minutes and will include both check-box questions and open-ended responses to allow participants to give brief details about their experiences of violence.
Questions will ask about general health behaviours (including alcohol and other drug use), details surrounding the participants most recent experience of violence, and mental health.
Participation is completely anonymous and women will be supplied with a reply-paid envelope so that they can fill the survey out and return it at their convenience. The online survey is available at:
  1. Face-to-Face Interview
For women located in the Geelong and Melbourne areas of Victoria we will be conducting several one-hour interviews at Deakin University campuses (or another location if appropriate). Survivors are invited to share their stories with our friendly and experienced female interviewers.
To ensure that survivors feel comfortable and safe to recall their experiences with our interviewers, participation will be anonymous by the interviewee adopting a pseudonym throughout the interview process (i.e., any contact between us and the interviewee setting up the interview and during the interview itself). Participants in the interview will be remunerated with a $50.00 Coles-Myer voucher.
Please don’t hesitate to contact Deakin if you have any questions or would like further information about our research,
Elise Cox
PhD Candidate 
Deakin University
Ph. 0420720611
If you have any further questions, please contact Elise directly: 0420 720 611.
Please note, this is not a Women with Disabilities Victoria research project.  


The Centre for Developmental Disability Health has developed two booklets to support women with intellectual disabilities manage their menstruation.

One is targeted to medical practitioners and the other to carers.

Supporting Women - for GP's (pdf)

Supporting Women - for Carers (pdf)

For more information visit:

Media Releases

Media Release: Communication Rights Australia Appoints High Profile Human Rights Lawyer as Patron.
Mr Ronald Merkel QC has practiced as a barrister since 1971 and as a Queens Counsel since 1982. He was appointed and sat as a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia from 1996 until retiring from the Court in 2006.
Since 2006, he has returned to the bar with a particular focus on the rights of indigenous people, refugees, freedom of speech, same-sex marriage and winner of the blue-ribbon Human Rights Medal in 2011. Mr Merkel will take up the role of Patron of Communication Rights Australia, an organisation that oversees the protection of the human rights of people with disabilities who have communication or speech difficulties.
“We are thrilled that someone of Mr Merkel’s stature has agreed to join us and recognises the significant barriers affecting this much marginalised group.” stated CEO, Jan Ashford.
People with disabilities who have speech difficulties, are on a continuum from severe speech and communication difficulties, such as Autism, acquired brain injury, illness - MND, stroke, mental health, physical and sensory impairment or intellectual disability, through to children whose capacity to communicate impacts on correctly and consistently sending their message (Apraxia) and have the highest incidence of community exclusion. They also experience a dramatically higher risk of having their rights infringed or of being assaulted, while at the same time, experiencing numerous barriers which inhibit their ability to seek redress says Jan Ashford, CEO of Communication Rights Australia.
For further information, support or advice please contact: Communication Rights Australia on 03 9555 8552 or
Jan Ashford CEO
Mobile: 0418 371 507
Communication Rights Australia 4/3 Tuck Street, Moorabbin, 3189 19/11/2014

MEDIA RELEASE: 2014 National Disability Awards recipients announced.
Ten outstanding individuals and organisations received a 2014 National Disability Award at a gala event held at Parliament House tonight.
The award recipients are:


Lesley Hall Award for Lifetime Achievement in Disability

Bill Bradley, Hornsby, NSW.

Emerging Leaders Award in Disability
Jordanna Smith, Sutherland, NSW.

Improving Inclusive and Accessible Communities Award
Rebecca Ho and Touched by Olivia, Drummoyne, NSW.

Improving Advocacy and Rights Promotion Award
First People Disability Network (FPDN), National, Redfern, NSW.

Improving Employment Opportunities Award
Joint recipients:
John McDonald, Browns Plains, Qld; and
Saronbell, North Gosford, NSW.
Improving Personal and Community Support Award Technology Assisting Disability WA (TADWA), Bassendean, WA.

Improving Education Outcomes Award

Joint recipients:
Everyone Everyday Disability Awareness Program, Canberra, ACT; and
Stirling Community Early Learning Centre, Stirling, SA.

Improving Health and Wellbeing Outcomes Award

Vicdeaf (SLC Vic) / Emergency Management Victoria, Melbourne, Vic.
Twenty-three finalists from more than 200 nominations across eight award categories, travelled to Canberra for the event.
Senator Mitch Fifield, the Assistant Minister for Social Services, congratulated the 10 recipients.
“These recipients are working hard to break down barriers for people with disability,” Senator Fifield said.
“From innovative education programmes and inclusive sports for adults and children alike, to leadership in business and employment, and community support programmes that are making a positive difference in health, tourism, emergency services and opportunities for Indigenous Australians.”
“It’s a privilege to be involved with these awards and to see these individuals and organisations receive the recognition they deserve for their important work,” Minister Fifield said.
“I congratulate all recipients, and wish them all the very best as their work continues to inspire other Australians to improve the lives of people with disability.”

Senator The Hon Mitch Fifield
Speech to the 2014 National Disability Awards
Great Hall, Parliament House Canberra
25 November 2014
Ladies and gentlemen, you look magnificent. What a great night. This, for me, is always the highlight of the year.

At the outset, can I acknowledge and thank Shane and Charlie for their warm and wonderful welcome this evening.

And can I also thank Kieran Gilbert for being our Master of Ceremonies tonight. Kieran, as well as being a senior member of the press gallery here in Canberra, is also a passionate advocate for people with disability. And Kieran is very sneaky as a journalist – whenever I’m on Sky being interviewed by Kieran about the issues of the day, Kieran always manages to work in a question – “Mitch, how’s the NDIS going? How is it tracking?” He is always advocating and pushing for the cause. So Kieran, thank you so much for your support and for being our MC tonight.

We were joined earlier this evening for drinks by the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and by the Leader of Opposition, Bill Shorten. I think their presence earlier tonight here together demonstrated that in all of what transpires under this roof, there is one area of policy that is beyond partisanship. And I think that is a credit to the Parliament.

Can I also acknowledge a few of my other colleagues who are here tonight, the Shadow Ministers in this portfolio area – Jenny Macklin, Claire Moore and Helen Polley. Christine Milne, the Leader of the Australian Greens, Rachel Siewert, who is my counterpart in the Australian Greens. My ministerial colleagues – Marise Payne and Paul Fletcher. The Father of the House, Phillip Ruddock.

I also want to make two special mentions. Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, who is the Commander of the Australian Fleet of the Australian Navy, and is a patron of wheelchair rugby. He always reminds me that it’s wheelchair rugby, not wheelchair rugby league. An important distinction.

We’re also joined tonight by the 2014 Patron of the International Day of People with Disability – outstanding Australian and paralympian Jacqui Freney. Jacqui thank you so much for being our patron and for being with us tonight.

Disability is fortunately an area where the Parliament comes together. Where we look to the national interest. And tonight is an opportunity to say to all of my parliamentary colleagues on both sides of the aisle, thank you for your support.

But most importantly, tonight is a night to acknowledge and celebrate the fact that we are, as a nation, embracing diversity. Embracing inclusion. And Australians with disability are starting, at long last, to get the better deal that they deserve.

We do still have further to go in that venture. The NDIS is still in its early stages. But we as a Government, we as a Parliament, are absolutely committed to seeing the NDIS rolled out and rolled out in full.

But we also need to recognise that the NDIS isn’t, and won’t be, the answer or the solution to everything. That all levels of government still have to maintain – through the National Disability Strategy – their commitment  to providing the sort of society, the sort of community and the sort of infrastructure that all Australians are entitled to expect.

Tonight is a night to above all to thank and acknowledge the people who are the award nominees tonight, and who will be the award winners. There are good things happening across the nation. It is important that we acknowledge that and that we celebrate the individuals and the organisations who are seeking to make a difference in their community.

Tonight isn’t the night to hear from Members of Parliament, from politicians. Tonight is a night to see the good work that is happening and to hear from the award recipients. I’m very much looking forward to the acceptance speeches from those who are successful tonight.

Thank you again for being here and let’s celebrate the good things that are happening in our nation.

Thanks very much.
The award categories reflect the priorities of the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020  and the determination by all levels of government to deliver a united approach, both now and into the future, to address challenges faced by people with disability. 
The National Disability Awards are a major part of celebrations marking the International Day of People with Disability on 3 December each year.
For more information about the recipients, visit or access the latest news via and

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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