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Welcome to our eNews

This fortnightly email is to keep you updated on Women with Disabilities Victoria's work and news in our priority areas. Contributions to this eNews are welcome, email

In this Issue:
The recent ABC TV Four Corners report, ‘Fighting the System’ showed yet again explicit violence against people with disabilities. Victoria’s Inquiry into Abuse in Disability Services and Royal Commission into Family Violence delved deeply into the causes of violence and the strategies needed to respond effectively. We know that violence flourishes where there are extreme differences of power. These may be based on differences about disability, sex or other characteristics that result in people experiencing discrimination. Despite the statistics that show women with disabilities experience significantly higher levels of sexual assault, the ABC report was silent about violence against women with disabilities.
We applaud the Victorian Disability Abuse Prevention Strategy and family violence reform and the Commonwealth’s pending Quality and Safeguarding Framework. It is critical that the appalling levels of violence that people with disabilities experience in the home and in other domestic settings such as supported accommodation are addressed. We continue to advocate for the evidence and experience in preventing and responding effectively to violence against women to be considered and actioned in responding to violence against people with disabilities. Violence response services and disability services must work together to address discrimination and respond to abuse.
Evidence shows that violence is preventable and this requires sharing power with people with disabilities. A key way to empower people with disabilities is to involve us planning services, in training staff, in having input into government policy such as how disability workers are registered. It’s important we are part of choosing staff, and because of the gendered nature of violence it’s critical we choose whether our support workers are men or women.
It’s time we stopped this outrageous and ongoing injustice working together across our different, and shared, knowledge and experience.

Keran Howe 
Executive Director Women with Disabilities Victoria

PHOTO: Keran Howe

WORLD-FIRST research in the North East has exposed the barriers for women living with disabilities in country Victoria

The Border Mail reports, "During 2016 Women’s Health Goulburn North East (WHGNE) led a partnership with Women with Disabilities Victoria to deliver and evaluate Enabling Women, a community leadership program for women with disabilities.
More than 40 women in the North East participated in the leadership program and 13 women who identified with a disability completed the course.
WHGNE’s health promotion worker Bern Fraser said the research had revealed the lack of transport, social isolation, discrimination and violence from others and feeling unsafe as the key barriers to community participation for women living with disabilities in rural communities.
“Women with lived experience of disability are resilient and bring specialist knowledge and understanding to improve planning, community safety and participation for men, women and children of all abilities in their community.”
Wodonga participant Jacqui (Jazz) Telford said education was vital to improving the life experiences for people with a disability." Read the full story in the Border Mail.

TEAM WORK: WHGNE’s Bern Fraser and Enabling Women participant Jacqui (Jazz) Telford talk about the new research. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE, Border Mail.
Victorian Disability Awards - nominations now open

Is there a person or organisation you would like to nominate for a Victorian Disability Award? Nominations close on the 27th of April.

Video humorously explains why the expression “special needs” doesn’t make much sense - starring Glee's Lauren Potter

The two-minute video, which already has nearly five million views on Facebook, stars “Glee” actress Lauren Potter. In the video, Potter uses humor to illustrate the point that the needs of people with Down syndome aren’t particularly special. The video is well worth a look to help us re-think disability.

IMAGE: Still from video shows someone being given a 'special' cat massage

'Loosing friends to ableism' by Erin

Erin writes on her blog, The Geeky Gimp, about loosing friends to ableism. "“I would’ve made sure it was accessible if we were closer friends.” An ex-friend said this after I expressed hurt over his party being held in an inaccessible venue. I wasn’t even mad at him initially since it was a surprise planned by his family; they knew I couldn’t get inside, and ignored guests offering alternate, accessible spaces. When this ex-friend told me of the event, all he said was “sorry you can’t come.” That was it."

"... I know folks throw that phrase around a lot, but for me, it means everything. In my darkest times, the knowledge that others are surviving and moving on from the end of any relationship means maybe I can too. Even if it takes a while, or I go about healing in a different way – or I don’t fully recover at all – it’s fine. Losing friends also taught me what I would and will not put up with, and makes it easier to let go of corrosive individuals. I hope you can take away something positive from my words here."

Assisted Suicide the Musical at the Melbourne Comedy Festival

World-famous disability advocate takes on the controversial topic of assisted suicide in a musical coming to Melbourne's Malthouse Theatre during the Comedy Festival. See details of the show.

WIRE, a helpful service for women - drop in, phone or web chat

WIRE is a free information & referral service for all Victorian women, no matter what the issue. There are three ways to contact WIRE.
  • Information Centre - In business hours you can drop into their Melbourne information centre, just minutes from Southern Cross Station.
  • Phone - Sometimes you need to talk to someone but you just can't make it to a service. WIRE have caring, understanding women ready to take your call on our phone support line. Call 1300 134 130 from 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday.
  • Online - Or, if online support is more your thing, contact their friendly team via web chat. Go to and click on the orange 'Live Chat' vertical tab on the left of your screen.


Tips for talking with someone who uses a communication board

Scope advise that in general, there are three ways that people use communication boards to get their message across:
  1. Directly pointing with their finger or hand
  2. Using their eyes to point by looking
  3. Using a method called partner assisted scanning.

Tell WDV what you would like to know about the NDIS - invitation to a consultation by phone or email

WDV is developing an information session about the NDIS. This will be included in the Enabling Women community leadership program and may also be available as a stand-alone session.

We want to assist women to get the information they need about the NDIS. We also want to support women to develop confidence and skills to engage with the NDIS and get the best out of the scheme.

We’d like to hear from you about what information and what kind of activities you think should be in the session.

Please call Cath McNamara if you’d like to talk about this and contribute your ideas.

If you’d like some questions to prompt your thinking before you talk to Cath please email her.

How to contact Cath:
Phone: 03 9286 7810
Cath’s usual workdays are Tuesday and Wednesday.

IMAGE by the NDIA: The NDIS logo by a map of Australia with Victoria highlighted

What's important to you about women's health - Women's Hospital consultation

The Royal Women's Hospital invite you to a conversation about what are the important issues in women’s health. It will be a casual get together over some food and coffee/tea.
Get Together ONE
Date: Thursday 30th march
Time: 6.00pm - 7.30pm
Location: The Women’s Conference Centre, Conference Rooms B & C. Ground Floor, the Royal Women’s Hospital, Parkville
Supper will be provided
Children, partners and friends most welcome.
Get Together TWO
Date: Tuesday 4th April
Time: 9.30am -11.00am
Location: The Women’s Conference Centre, Conference Rooms A Ground Floor, the Royal Women’s Hospital, Parkville
Morning tea will be provided
Children, partners and friends most welcome.
RSVP and let the Women's know if you need help with travel costs.
Gemma Cooper: 03 8345 2045 /

Forum: Sex, sexuality, relationships and disability

Disability activists, people with disabilities and academics will come together at this forum to discuss their perspectives on people with disabilities rights in relation to sex, sexuality and relationships. There will be an emphasis on challenges and priorities for research and advocacy. 6pm, Tuesday 4 April 2017, Carlton. 

Speakers are:
Jax Jacki Brown (Disability & LGBTI Activist)
Prof Michael Perlin (New York Law School)
Linda Stokoe (Deakin University)
Dr George Taleporos (Summer Foundation).

Would you like to present at the LBQ Women's Health Conference? 

WDV member, Jax Jacki Brown writes, "I'm on the selection panel for the LBQ Women's Health Conference this year (Syd 13th & 14th July), and I'd really love you to SUBMIT TO ME, deadline the 5th of April 6pm. There are some scholarships available so please submit and apply.

Think bold. What do you have to say in 15 or 30mins (presentation, workshop or panel discussion) as a Lesbian, Bisexual or Queer woman? I've presented at the last 2 ones and found it to be really informative and feisty."

Keep 2017 on track with training at the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

VEOHRC's training provides an understanding of obligations under the law and best practice examples of how to apply this at work. Upcoming sessions include The Human Rights Charter and Equal Opportunity Employment.

WDV is looking for a Gender Equity Program Manager to join our team

WDV is looking for an experienced and passionate Gender Equity Program Manager (part-time 0.8FTE for 9 months) to join our team and manage our Workforce Development Program. Please see our Employment page for more details,

Initial enquiries can be made by phoning Dee Henry, Administration Officer, on 9286 7800.

Applications will address the key selection criteria, include a current resume, be marked confidential and can be emailed to or posted to Fofi Christou, Senior Program Manager, Women with Disabilities Victoria, GPO Box 1160, Melbourne, Vic. 3001.

The closing date is 5pm Tuesday 11 April 2017.

Carers Victoria consultation

We share this in recognition that women with disabilities are carers too. Carers Victoria will be hosting a number of consultations for carers and organisations that support carers to find out what works best in existing services and supports and what could be improved. Carers can also have their say by completing an online or paper survey.  Information on this survey and opportunities to contribute.
6 pieces not to miss: media and community campaigns

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Women with Disabilities Victoria · GPO Box 1160 · Melbourne, VIC 3001 · Australia

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