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A Message from CEO Leah van Poppel
Welcome to this edition of the WDV eNews. I'd like to begin by saying a warm hello to one person in particular - Kerrie Doherty, our new Senior Operations Manager. Kerrie will be coming to WDV to head up our operations. It's a new title, but a very similar role to the one being vacated by Helen Gwilliam, our current General Manager. Kerrie comes to us with a strong background in business management and senior operations roles. We'll be pleased to welcome her - virtually! - on 6th July. Helen will continue with us until 22nd July to ensure we have a smooth handover. 

We're all keenly aware that the restrictions imposed because of COVID 19 are having a negative impact on the wellbeing and safety of women with disabilities. You may be self isolating for a longer haul to protect your health. You may have had supports cut, or difficulty accessing the services you rely on. We've provided some links to different supports available to women. Because we don't provide direct individual advocacy and supports ourselves, we're committed to bringing you the best information possible as the pandemic continues to unfold, through both the eNews and our COVID information page. If you'd like to see more information on a particular topic, please get in touch.
Welcome Kerrie

WDV are pleased to announce the appointment of a new Senior Operations Manager Kerrie Doherty. Kerrie comes to us with a background in business management, operations management and marketing in not for profit and corporate environments. She will be joining us from a role as the Business Manager for the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygenists, and has previously run a social enterprise for Independent Disability Services. She will begin with WDV on 6th July.

However this means we are farewelling our General Manager Helen Gwilliam. Helen has been invaluable to WDV working quietly and persistently behind the scenes with a keen eye for detail and process. We will be saying goodbye to Helen on 22nd July.
PHOTO: Kerrie Doherty
Be part of our Spotlight on 'Invisible' Women project
Are you a woman with disability aged between 50 – 65 years living in rural, regional or metro Victoria? We would love to hear from you!

The ‘Spotlight on Invisible Women’ project is aimed at engaging with  women in this age group to identify your needs and improve the provision of information. We would like to hear what life is like for you.

A survey has been designed to capture the unique barriers experienced by older women with disability in rural, regional and metro areas across Victoria

Results of the survey and community consultations will be captured in a report designed to influence and inform national and specialist organisations (e.g. disability-specific organisations) and the Victorian government. The final project report will provide feedback and recommendations on the findings of the surveys.


Complete the Spotlight on Invisible Women Survey
Royal Commission asks for views of First Nations peoples with disability

A disproportionate number of First Nations people live with a disability or some form of long term health condition.The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability wants to hear your views about the role of governments, institutions and communities in preventing and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of First Nations people with disability. They also want to hear about what is already being done well, and any examples of effective approaches.

Read the Media Release on the First Nations People with Disability issues paper
DHHS Releases Coronavirus Factsheet

The Department of Health and Human Services have released updated factsheets about the easing of restrictions in accessible formats for people with disability.

You can access this information at

Other resources are being updated to reflect the latest easing of restrictions directions.  These will also be shared as they become available.

Read the Easing of Restrictions Factsheets
Respect Older People: 'Call it Out' Campaign

June 15 marked Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Respect Victoria relaunched the state-wide prevention of elder abuse campaign, Respect Older People: 'Call It Out.' 
Rapidly changing circumstances can create considerable pressure for older people to support adult children and other relatives. It may also be a time of heightened vulnerability to emotional, financial, physical and sexual abuse. For women and people with disabilities, the risk is further compounded. 

This campaign aims to: 

  • Raise awareness of elder abuse as a form of family violence
  • Demonstrate where and how elder abuse starts
  • Shift the attitudes of entitlement that underpin elder abuse
  • Promote the critical role of preventing elder abuse
Visit the official Elder Abuse Awareness Day website
WDV CEO features on podcast talking Human Rights and Disability

Our CEO Leah van Poppel recently appeared on the GET REAL podcast alongside ermha365’s Social Policy and Advocacy Advisory Isabel Calvert. They discussed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and how it impacts on the disability sector.

There are many challenges to ensuring the fulfilment of everyday rights for people with disabilities, particularly those with cognitive and mental impairments, and vulnerable groups such as women, remote communities and indigenous peoples, especially in these challenging Coronavirus times.

Listen to the Human Rights and Disability episode
safe steps New Live Webchat Service

safe steps are a specialist family violence crisis response phoneline and email service available 24/7 every day of the year. Ph: 1800 015 188, W:

safe steps understands people experiencing domestic of family violence may be unable to safely call for support. A new live web chat service has been  developed using family violence expertise and input from victim-survivors, as well as live web chat specialists and a series of testing.

The web chat service is providing secure, specialist support and information to victim-survivors and concerned family and friends from 9am – 9pm Monday to Friday. Chats are anonymous and available to anyone experiencing or afraid of family violence regardless of age, sexuality or gender identity. 

Access the safe steps Webchat Service
Safety as a Young Woman Survey

Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) believes every young person should feel safe in public and in their communities. Young women in particular do not always feel safe in public spaces and might change their behaviour because of this. YACVic are asking you to share your ideas, thoughts and experiences so that we can work together to make Victoria a safer place for young women.

Fill out YACVic's survey
Are you an artist with a disability?

Intereach is a not-for-profit community organisation working across the Riverina Murray region of NSW and Northern Victoria. They wish to make their offices more welcoming and reflective of the local community by displaying artwork by local artists who are living with a disability, are from a multicultural and/or culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background or who are Indigenous. The office locations include Maryborough, Gisborne, Shepparton, Seymour, Mildura and Swan Hill.

Intereach is seeking Expressions of Interest (EOI) from artists within the local region to deliver one or a series of two-dimensional artworks that reflect local people, communities and/or landscapes.

For more information please call 1300 488 226 or email

Find out more information about Expressions of Interest
Do you need general support as a woman with disability?

Should you need assistance with personal circumstances, we encourage you to first contact WIRE (Women’s Information and Referral Exchange Inc.). WIRE are the only Victoria-wide free generalist information, support and referral service run by women for women.They have a wide ranging database of services to which they can refer women needing support. Like many other services, WIRE has made the switch to working remotely during COVID-19. Some areas of their service have been put on hold for the time being but many are still operating online.

Telephone, email and online support
WIRE are still here to support you via phone (1300 134 130), email ( and web chat (, Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm. Callers can leave a message and a WIRE support worker will call back as soon as possible. WIRE take calls from women, nonbinary and gender diverse people or the people who support them. They also have a social inclusion call service.

Financial guidance clinic
WIRE's free, 1 hour financial guidance clinic  is running through phone consultation. This clinic is for people considering how to manage their money, plan for the future, or plan for a change in circumstances. Bookings are essential. Contact WIRE for more information. Please note: financial guidance is not financial counselling. If you need help managing debts they can provide a referral to a financial counsellor.

Visit WIRE's website

News and Comments

If you have any questions, comments or items to submit to the E-News, please contact Please feel free to send any feedback regarding the new template.
Copyright © 2020 Women with Disabilities Victoria, All rights reserved.

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