Voices Against Violence Launch
Our pioneering research project, Voices Against Violence, was launched on the 15th of May by Natasha Stott Despoja AM, Ambassador for Women and Girls and Chair, Foundation to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children.
â€œThe 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." Ms. Stott Despoja
Over 200 people from peak family violence, sexual assault, disability, mental health, aged care, legal and government organisations gathered at Hotel Ibis, Melbourne, for the launch.
Voices Against Violence is two-year research project undertaken by Women with Disabilities Victoria, in partnership with the Office of the Public Advocate and the Domestic Violence Resources Centre Victoria. The findings are published in seven reports.
These are womenâ€™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.
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.
Virginia Geddes, Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoriaâ€™s Executive Director, said, â€œRecent public discussion about violence against women shows that the community expects governments to take action to protect women and children from violence. 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."
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.
At the launch a panel of speakers summarised the findings which are contained in the seven reports. The panel comprised:
Fiona Guthrie (Member, Women with Disabilities Victoria),
Lucy Healey (University of Melbourne),
Delanie Woodlock (Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria), and
Magdalena McGuire and John Chesterman (Office of the Public Advocate).
The Public Advocate, Colleen Pearce, echoed the reports' findings and has called for an expansion of the powers of the Public Advocate to investigate allegations of violence, abuse, exploitation or neglect.
Ms Pearce said, "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. 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."
Fiona McCormack (CEO, Domestic Violence Victoria) and Estelle Fyffe (Chair, National Disability Services Victoria) responded to the findings from the perspective of the Family Violence and Disability sectors, enforcing the importance of cross-sector collaboration to create change.
WDV's Executive Director Keran Howe closed the event by saying, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
Voices Against Violence Reports Now Available
The seven reports from our Voices Against Violence Research Project are now available for purchase or download via our website.
Key findings of the reports include:
21 recommendations were developed from the findings, they can be read in Paper 1: Summary Report and Recommendations.
- Women with disabilities experience violence to a higher degree and for longer periods of time than women in the general population.
- Women experience a wide range of violence throughout their lives, in a variety of settings.
- Sexism and ableism intersect and increase the risk of violence for women with disabilities.
- Stereotypes of â€˜disabilityâ€™ contribute to the reasons why women with disabilities are targeted.
- Social isolation can limit the opportunities for women to seek help.
- Aboriginal women with a disability experience particular barriers to safety.
- The service and justice systems are difficult to navigate and responses were often poor.
- Women with disabilities do not have adequate access to safe, appropriate and affordable housing.
- When services and organisations tailored their responses to the specific needs of women with disabilities who have experienced violence it led to better outcomes for women.
- Violence against women is preventable. There is considerable scope for governments and communities to prevent violence before it occurs
The seven reports include:
- Summary and Recommendations
- Current Issues in Understanding and Responding to Violence Against Women with Disabilities
- A Review of the Legislative Protections Available to Women with Disabilities who have Experienced Violence in Victoria
- A Review of the Public Advocate's Records on Violence Against Women with Disabilities
- Interviews with Staff and Volunteers from the Office of the Public Advocate
- Hearing from Women with Disabilities
- Easy English Summary.
Read the reports:
Read the 7 Voices Against Violence reports free online
Order print copies of the 7 Voices Against Violence reports
order print copies ($20 each or $100 for the set).
There are three ways to order print copies:
Order online: http://wdv.org.au/news_events.htm
Phone: 03 9286 7800
Program update: Disability Workforce Development
A Train the Trainer program is now under-way for our Gender and Disability Workforce Development Program. A diversity of women with disabilities and professional trainers have been recruited from the Women with Disabilities Victoria membership, womenâ€™s health services, violence response services, legal, disability and community organisations across Victoria.
Trainers will co-facilitate the delivery of a gender and disability training package to disability service managers and support workers in two pilot sites. The training is titled 'Human Rights & Quality Services: What does gender have to do with it?'.
A peer education program will also be developed and delivered along side this to people using services of organisations being trained in the pilot sites. These initiatives form Stage Two of the program and run with funding from the Victorian Government.
Enquiries: Fofi Christou
Gender Equity Training Coordinator
Women with Disabilities Victoria
Level 9, 255 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Phone: 9286 7805