Issue 5, January 1994

Women With Disabilities Australia began in 1985 as a women’s group known as the ‘Women’s Network’, within Disabled Peoples’ International (Australia). The Network grew and evolved to form Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA). Copyright WWDA 1994.

In This Edition

Letter from the Coordinator

Remaining Operational

Women’s Network Teleconference

New Faces at the Office of the Status of Women

New Government Consultation for Women in Australia

Project Opportunity

Continence Aids Assistance Scheme

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

‘Lives of Six Women’

Australian Deaf Women’s Network

International News

Newsletter Feedback

Coming Up


Letter from the Coordinator

1994 promises to be a very exciting one for the Network. We have been successful in our application for a funding grant from the Office of the Status of Women. This will allow us to employ a part-time project officer and it will also assist us to produce our newsletter and to have regular telephone teleconferences with our State representatives. Our next newsletter will contain a profile of our new worker.

We are looking forward to welcoming women with disabilities from around the world at the World Assembly to be held in Sydney in December this year. There will be a meeting of the DPI World Women’s Committee as well as workshops on women’s issues. We are hoping to see many of our members in Sydney. Application forms for this assembly are available by contacting:

World Assembly Office
PO Box 666
Strawberry Hills NSW 2012
Phone (02) 319 6446
Fax (02) 318 1372
TTY (02) 318 2138

Watch our future newsletters for more about the World Assembly.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bianca, Project Officer at DPI(A) for all the assistance she has given us. As well as her normal duties with DPI(A) Bianca has worked very hard for our Network. Thank you Bianca.

Until next time
Yours in Solidarity
Rae Hurrell

Remaining Operational

The National Women’s Network was delighted to be acknowledged by the Office of the Status of Women as a key women’s group, in November last year. OSW approved the Network’s application for funding under the National Agenda for Women Operational Grants Program, and awarded the Network $23,000.

This funding will allow the Network to grow significantly, and enable it to better represent women with disabilities in Australia. DPI(A) has also recognised the importance of the Network, and has offered to assist the Network through the time and services of a quarter time Project Officer. With this combined support, the National Women’s Network is anticipating a highly successful year.

Network Teleconference

The National Women’s Network will have it’s first Teleconference of the year, on Saturday January 29. Women in each State will be represented, and this meeting will determine the future direction of the Network. Details on State representatives are available from DPI(A) (008) 805 428. The results of this teleconference will be summarised in the next newsletter.

New Faces at the Office of the Status of Women

The latest Ministry reshuffle has given the Prime Minister a new adviser on women’s issues. Senator Crowley has vacated the position, with Minister Ros Kelly accepting the portfolio of women. We hope to interview Minister Kelly for the next edition of the newsletter.

Anne Sherry is a further addition to the Office of the Status of Women as the new First Assistant Secretary. Ms Sherry joins the OSW from her previous role as the Director of the Primary Care Division, in the Victorian Government.

The National Women’s Network has formally welcomed Minister Kelly, and Ms Sherry. We look forward to fruitful discussions with the Minister and the First Assistant Secretary during the Round Table Meetings, and wish all the best to both women in their new positions.

New Government Consultation for Women in Australia

Late in 1993, the Australian Government announced that the National Women’s Consultative Council, which had been a major avenue for women to have their interest considered by the government, was not to be continued. The Women’s Network was disappointed to have lost the invaluable contribution of Margaret Cooper on this Council.

The National Women’s Consultative Council will be replaced by Round Table Meetings, hosted by Minister Ros Kelly. These meetings will bring together representatives from a number of women’s organisations. We are pleased to provide a representative of the Network for these meetings. The first is scheduled to be held in February.

Project Opportunity

The National Women’s Network is interested in conducting a study into the linkage between women with disabilities, and women’s health organisations. It is anticipated that this research would gain funding under the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Small Grant’s Program. The National Women’s Network would like to make contact with women who have previously undertaken studies in this area, or who are interested in health issues for women with disabilities. Please Contact: Bianca (008) 805 428 428.

Continence Aids Assistance Scheme

If you are of working age (between 16 and 65) and you have a permanent bowel or bladder condition resulting from a severe disability, CAAS can help you. CAAS is the Continence Aids Assistance Scheme. The cost of continence management may be a barrier for you finding a job, keeping that job or being involved in the community. CAAS offers practical help, providing continence aids to a certain value each year at no cost.

If you:

  • are between 16 and 65 years of age;
  • do not live in a nursing home;
  • have a permanent continence problem as a result of a severe disability (eg Paraplegia, Multiple Sclerosis, Spina Bifida, intellectual disability or other neurological disorders); and are eligible for the Disability Support Pension, the Rehabilitation Allowance, or the Mobility Allowance you will be able to choose from a wide range of continence aids.

For more information call your CAAS agency on:

New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory
(02) 764 4166
1800 424 096 (free call outside metro area)

(03) 417 7400

South Australia and Northern Territory
(08) 266 2311

(07) 844 2111

Western Australia
(09) 365 4841

(003) 32 7821 North
(004) 34 6476 North West
(002) 38 8894 South

or the Department of Human Services and Health on 008 807 487.

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission In Action

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission held a conference in Sydney recently for non-govenunent organisations. The aim of the conference was to increase communication between HREOC and the people it had been created to serve. Although the Commission has been in operation now for seven years, it’s role still appears somewhat unclear to the consumers it has been created to protect.

HREOC is a non-govenunent orgamsation, itself receiving funding firom the Attorney General’s Department. Not unlike other nongovernment organisations, HREOC’s work is limited by funding restrictions.

HREOC is presided over by Sir Ronald Wilson who heads a team of Commissioners which cover the areas of Human Rights, Sex Discrimination, Race Discrimination, Disability Discrimination, Aboriginal/Torres Straight Island Social Justice and Privacy. HREOC has responsibility for five acts of parliament, and these acts determine the roles of the Commissioners.

The Sex Discrimination Act covers discrimination in the areas of work, education, provision of goods and services, accommodation, disposal of land, membership and activities of licensed clubs and the administration of Commonwealth laws and programs. Discrimination complaints may be made on the grounds of sex, marital status, for family responsibilities and may be direct or indirect. Sex discrimination may be displayed in an action, it may also be advertised or in the form of harassment. Ms Sue Warpole is the Commissioner for the Sex Discrimination Act, and Commissioner Warpole holds limited statutory powers of inquiry, conciliation and settlement of cases on behalf of the Commission.

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) is a relatively recent addition to the Commission, with the Act being effected in March 1993. Commissioner Elizabeth Hastings has been appointed to the position of Disability Discrimination Commissioner and already she appears to have her work cut out for her. Commissioner Hastings also holds statutory owers of inquiry, conciliation and settlement on behalf of the Commission.

The DDA renders it unlawful to discriminate against a person who has, previously had, is imputed to have, or may have a disability in the future. Disability is broadly defmed and includes physical, sensory, intellectual, psychiatric disabilities, and the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease. The discriminatory act may be direct or indirect, it may of occurred or it may be in planning stages.

Complaints of Human Rights violations may be made at National or State level. Unlike a civil case, complaints accepted by the Commissioner are reconciled between parties involved and the Commissioner. Where possible, cases are resolved simply and without unnecessary emotional or financial stress.

After a complaint has been lodged it is reviewed by the Commissioner. If found in breach of the Act, parties are contacted and negotiations begin.

If you require further information on HREOC, or you wish to make a complaint please call the office in your area. Regional offices will assist people who require it, to lodge their complaint.

HREOC National Office – (008) 021199

Hobart: (002) 238 511
Rockhampton: (008) 804 288
Cairns: (008) 803 271
Canberra: (06) 247 3002
Darwin: (089) 819 111
Melbourne: (008) 134 142
Perth: (09) 222 8999
Adelaide: (08) 226 5660

‘Lives of Six Women’

At the annual conference of the National Council on Intellectual Disability, held in Canberra late last year, Hornsby Challenge presented an incredibly moving research paper on the lives of six women. It conveyed the stories of six women, who had returned to the community after losing part of themselves to mstitutionalisation.

The research began by interviewing older women to find the things that they most valued in their lives. Commonly these women valued their family networks, friends and memories held in photographs, knickknacks, heirlooms and alike.

Hornsby Challenge then interviewed in great depth six elderly women from an institution for people with intellectual disabilities. They found that although these women had extraordinarily clear memories of their pasts, they possessed none of the valued networks or possessions of other elderly women.

‘Lives of Six Women’ is thoroughly recommended, and for information on it’s availability please contact Bianca (008) 805 428. Other papers presented at this conference are currently featuring in ‘Interaction’ the journal of National Council on Intellectual Disability. Contact (06) 247 6022.

Australian Deaf Women’s Network

Australian Deaf Women’s Network is a network for Deaf women whose primary form of communication is visual. The network has contacts in every State and organises activities for members within states. Australian Deaf Women’s Network publishes a bimonthly newsletter, which is widely circulated throughout Australia. For contact information, please call Bianca at the DPI(A) office. ph (008) 805 428 or TTY (06) 282 3025.

International News

Disabled Peoples International (Australia) Asia/Pacific Leadership Training Seminar
Rae Hurrell, Network Coordinator returned from the Asia/Pacific Leadership Training Seminar held in Dhaka, Bangladesh in December last year. Rae has provided this report to the Women’s Network on the conference.

The eleventh Asia/Pacific Leadership Training Seminar was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh from November 29th November to December 3rd 1993. The theme of this seminar was ‘Capacity Building Towards Equality and Full Participation for the People with Disabilities in Asia and Pacific’. As the seminar progressed it became very obvious that indeed there is a need for equality and full participation for people with disabilities within their own communities. However, it was also obvious that there was a need for equality and full participation for women with disabilities within the community of people with disabilities. As we are now in the Asian/Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons let us hope that we will see not only an improvement ‘in the community participation of people with disabilities within our region, but even more so the participation and equality of women with disabilities, not just within the disability movement, but also within the women’s movement and especially within the wider community.

Justine Kiwanuka, who has been appointed project officer in the area of international women’s issues, was asked to present a paper on women with disabilities at the seminar. Unfortunately, due to funding difficulties, she was unable to be present at the seminar. I was honoured to be asked to present her paper for her in Dhaka. I am very pleased to say that there was a great deal of interest in this paper.

This interest was also seen in the South Asia workshop on the ‘Management of Self-Help Organisations of People with Disabilities which was conducted by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, a regional division of the United Nations, which was held in Dhaka following the DPI seminar. Ms Aurora Estralls of the Philippines presented an extremely interesting workshop on gender sensitivity, while Aurora and I worked together to present a workshop on the involvement of women with disabilities in the development of the disability movement in countries of the South Asia region.

The number of women at both of these seminars was extremely disappointing. It was obvious that the number of women members of disability organisations in the region, both single diagnostic and cross diagnostic disabilities, was very low. Let us hope that 1994 will see much higher representation of women in the disability orgamsations and at seminars of this type.

Surprisingly the women from Bangladesh were very prominent in all workshops and discussion groups. They do not have an Organisation for women with disabilities in their country, but during the seminars they were working towards forming one. Their energy and interest ‘in forming their Organisation under conditions, which were far from ideal was an inspiration to me. I hope that they are able to keep up the momentum.

The Build Up To Beijing – by Rae Hurrell
It is very disappointing to learn that there was not an official representative of women with disabilities at the Regional NonGovernment Organisation Symposium held in Manila, November last year. This was despite the work of the Australian Network to try to achieve some representation from our region at this Symposium. This was a preparatory meeting for the UN World Conference for Women which will be held in Beijing in 1995. In June this year there will be a second Asian/Pacific Conference on Women in Development to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia. It is extremely important that women with disabilities have some input into these preparatory meetings. When it comes to the UN Conference of Women, the needs and interests of women with disabilities must not be ignored. It is vitally important that we ensure that our interests are included in this conference.

In March this year there will be an important meeting in New York at the United Nations. The UN Commission on the Status of Women has its session during the 7-8 March. This will by preceded by a Non-Govemment Organisation (NGO) consultation on the 3-4 March, and a meeting of the NGO Planning Committee. Maria Christina Sara Serrano is a wonderful lobbyist for our concerns at the UN and she will be working hard to have our interests considered in New York.

Often we are so concerned with the problems in our immediate neighbourhood that we forget we are part of a worldwide movement; and “It’s a small world after all”.

DPI World Women’s Committee
This article was taken from ‘Expression’ DPI Women’s Committee News published in Vox Nostra.

DPI, through the Women’s Committee, wants to work closely with grassroots disabled women by networking and exchanging information within regions or local women’s groups. Send your stories, experiences, achievements and areas of difficulty to the DPI office(C/DPI(A)) for publication in Vox Nostra, -in order to share with your fellow women. You will read and learn from other women far and wide. Finally, I encourage you to team up with DPI and work together to make a difference in other women’s lives in the struggle for integration and equal participation.

The National Women’s Network provides the DPI Women’s Committee with a copy of our newsletter. We will also endeavour in the new year to provide contributions to ‘Expression’, and will happily pass on any articles that are supplied to us.

Newsletter Feedback

The Women’s Network received a very positive response from the last newsletter, and our membership has grown considerably. We now have over 600 members on the mailing list, and this number continues to grow daily. The Women’s Network welcomes any feedback on the newsletter, or the activities of the network. If you wish to contribute to the newsletter, please send your article of less than 500 words to:

The Editor
National Women’s Network
C/- PO Box 169
Curtin ACT 2605
Contact: Bianca
(008) 805 428

Coming Up


4-5 – National Conference on families and violence. Centacare Australia, Macquarie Theatre, Marsfield. Contact DPI(A) 008 805 428

11- Fonun on research issues in women’s mental health, Melbourne. Organised by Healthsharing Women’s Health Resource Service. For more information please contact Rose Sorger on (03) 663 4457


4-6 – Disability Expo, Wayville Showgrounds, Adelaide. Contact: DPI(A) 008 805 428.

8 – International Women’s Day

17-21 – Celebrating Women 1994, a special program of exhibitions, performances and events highlighting the achievements of women in the arts. Located at the National Gallery of Victoria, contact: Jane Scott (03) 685 0256

18 – Houseworkshop, to develop feminist perspective’s to housework. Organised by the Women’s Economic Think Tank, Sydney. Contact Chris Sitka (02) 557 1955.

23-26 – Challenging the Legal System’s Response to Domestic Violence – Conference, Brisbane. Issues will include family, criminal and civil law. Contact: Pam Godsell, Women’s Legal Service PO Box 5440, West End, Qld 4101.


23-24 – The three R’s: Recession, Restructure and Recovery, The agenda for Women and Girls. Australian Women’s Coalition National Conference, Adelaide. Contact: Doon Hayman (08) 267 3633


29-1 – National Confest for women and girl survivors of sexual assault, incest and ritual abuse. Australian National University, Canberra. Contact Confest Planning Collective PO Box 171 Dickson ACT 2602.

21 – Through the Glass Ceiling, conference planned by the National Council of Women, Adelaide. Information: NCW (08) 231 9154.


Conference on the Unintended Gender Effects of Higher Education Policy and Practise, Brisbane. Contact: Australian Institute for Women’s Research and Policy (07) 875 5578.


The following publications have been received at the DPI(A) office. For information on publications, please call Bianca on (008) 805 428 and quote the reference number.

‘ACROD Newsletter’ December 1993.
Ref. J662

‘Australian Women’s Health Network’ – newsletter December 1993
Ref : 607/3

Australian Deaf Women’s Network Newsletters – for the previous year, and activities being held
Ref : 607/3

‘Expression’- the Joumal of the DPI Women’s Committee. Published by Vox Nostra. December 1993.
Ref-. J 503/1

‘Interaction’ – the joumal of the National Council on Intellectual Disability. December 1993 Building Better Communities Issue
Ref.- J613/2

‘Link’ – Australia’s Disability Journal September 1993.
Ref: Link

‘Making Known’ – the newsletter of the Older Women’s Network. December 1993.
Ref.- OWN

‘Oswomen’- the newsletter of the Office of the Status of Women.
January 1994. Ref. OSW

‘WINAP’- the Women’s Information Network for Asia and the Pacific Newsletter. December 1993.