April 2004

Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) is the peak organisation for women with all types of disabilities in Australia. It is a not-for-profit organisation constituted and driven by women with disabilities. Please find below a brief Update Report on some of WWDA’s activities for the month of April 2004. If you have any questions, or would like more information on anything in this report, please email Carolyn at: wwda@wwda.org.au

1. WWDA Funding Submissions to the Commonwealth Office of the Status of Women

WWDA has completed two funding submissions to the Commonwealth Office of the Status of Women (OSW) Women’s Development Program. One submission is to the Women’s Development Program Capacity Building Grants (for projects up to $25,000), and the other is to the Women’s Development Program Policy Grants (for projects of up to $50,000).

WWDA’s submission for capacity building funding is to develop an Accessible Information and Referral Portal for Women with Disabilities in Australia. This proposal has been developed in response to the major increase in requests to WWDA for individual advocacy, particularly from people in crisis. WWDA has identified the urgent need to develop internal information systems which enable WWDA to provide information, advice and referral to women with disabilities, their associates and the broader community, in an efficient and effective manner.

WWDA’s submission for policy funding is to undertake a national research project into Access to Breast and Cervical Screening for Women with Disabilities. This proposal has been developed in response to the identified needs of women with disabilities in Australia. The issue of access to breast and cervical screening for women with disabilities has been identified by WWDA members as a key policy priority issue for the organisation.

Successful applicants are expected to be announced in June 2004.

2. National Summit on Health Services for People with Disabilities

In February 2004, WWDA developed a Submission to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) requesting that HREOC undertake a Public Inquiry into Access to Breast and Cervical Screening for Women with Disabilities in Australia. In its submission, WWDA stressed the need for such an Inquiry to occur as a matter of urgency. In late February, WWDA received a letter from Dr Sev Ozdowski, (Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner) in which he responded to our submission. Dr Ozdowski proposed that one possible means for addressing the issue would be for HREOC to convene a national summit meeting, which could cover access to breast and cervical screening services but also cover other key issues in access to health facilities and services for people with disabilities.

The National Summit on Health Services for People with Disabilities will be held in Sydney on May 28th 2004, and is being convened by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC). The Summit will be attending by representatives from national disability organizations, as well as representatives from the medical and health sectors. WWDA has been invited to send two delegates to the Summit. Keran Howe (Vic), Sue Salthouse (ACT) and Annie Parkinson (NSW) will be representing WWDA at the National Summit. Keran will be presenting a paper at the Summit on Access to Breast and Cervical Screening for Women with Disabilities.

WWDA will report back to members on the outcomes of the Summit in next months Update Bulletin.

3. WWDA Submission to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) on the Temporary Exemption Application from the Australian Subscription Television And Radio Association (ASTRA)

In April 2004, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission received an application for temporary exemption under section 55 of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) regarding the provision of captions on subscription television, for a period of five years. WWDA’s Telecommunications Group, convened by Se Salthouse, developed a submission to HREOC in response to this application for temporary exemption. WWDA’s submission highlighted the fact that the time frame of 5 years is extremely favourable to ASTRA and conversely disadvantageous to people who are deaf and hearing impaired. WWDA recommends that the exemption should be for a shorter timeframe, and suggested 3 years.

4. National Conference on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault – Melbourne September 2004

The ‘Home Truths’ Conference is being held in Melbourne 15-17 September 2004. This National Conference aims to discuss, debate and highlight practice and policy issues relating to sexual assault and domestic and family violence. The Conference is being presented by the Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASA) and the Domestic Violence and Incest Resource Centre (DVIRC) Victoria. The Conference is being sponsored by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments.

WWDA has submitted an abstract to present a paper at this Conference on Domestic Violence and Women with Disabilities. WWDA’s paper will examine the reasons for the higher incidence of domestic violence experienced by women with disabilities. It will look at the extra barriers which prevent women with disabilities from leaving a situation of domestic violence – from a refuge with no ramp to the erosion of self esteem which is a legacy of living with disability. It will question the attitude of women’s organisations which ignore the experiences of the sisterhood of women with disabilities. It will pry into the world of policy makers which ignore the particular needs of women with disabilities in addressing the question of domestic violence. The paper will peer outside the home to uncover the way society’s perceptions perpetuate the predicament of women with disabilities.

For further information about the Home Truths Conference, contact the Conference Organisers:

CLEMS (Conference Links and Event Management Services)
1 Studley St, Abbotsford, Vic 3067
Phone: (03) 9439 3855
Fax: (03) 9431 5167
Email: clems.sg@bigpond.com

5. Women With Disabilities and Homelessness

During April, WWDA developed an article on the issue of Women with Disabilities and Homelessness for inclusion into the upcoming edition of Parity Journal. Parity is the publication of the Council to Homeless Persons (Victoria). Parity is published ten times a year and seeks to cover the whole range of issues connected with homelessness and the provision of housing and services to homeless people. Each edition has a central focus or theme. The upcoming May edition of Parity will focus on Homelessness and Disability.

For more information about Parity go to the Parity website at: http://www.parity.infoxchange.net.au/
For more information about the Council to Homeless Persons go to: http://www.chp.org.au

6. WWDA Strategic Plan

The WWDA Strategic Plan 2004-2009 is currently being printed. A smaller publication ‘Summary of WWDA Strategic Plan 2004-2009’ is also currently being printed and will be forwarded to WWDA members and other key stakeholders in the coming weeks. WWDA’s Strategic Plan for 2004-2009 has been developed following extensive consultation with our members, associate organisations, and other stakeholders. It reflects our commitment to promoting leadership opportunities for women with disabilities, and to fostering the empowerment and participation of all women with disabilities.

7. WWDA Funding Submissions

WWDA was recently advised that two of its recent applications for funding had been approved. WWDA will receive a small grant from the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) Volunteer Small Equipment Program to purchase much needed equipment for WWDA volunteers in the national office. WWDA has also received notification that its application to Microsoft Corporation for computer software has been approved. This will enable WWDA to update its computer software within the national office.

8. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) Forum on the ‘Draft Text for a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention to Promote and Protect the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities’

In March, the Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Sev Ozdowski convened two ‘expert’ workshops to discuss the current development through the United Nations system of a draft international Convention on human rights and disability. A workshop in Sydney was held on March 12th, in conjunction with the International Law Association (Australian Branch and the Australian Centre for Human Rights). A further workshop was held in Canberra on March 25th, in conjunction with the Centre for International and Public Law at the Australian National University. HREOC identified one of the main aims of these workshops as: ‘Discussions are intended to inform HREOC and disability community participants in making ongoing contributions to development of a draft Convention, and may also assist in informing further development of the Government’s contributions’.

WWDA’s Vice President Annie Parkinson, attended the Sydney forum on behalf of WWDA. Notes from the Workshops as well as a number of papers given at the Workshops, are now available on the HREOC Website. Go to: www.hreoc.gov.au/disability_rights/convention.htm

9. WWDA Telecommunications Group – Activities for April 2004

During the month of April, the Telecommunications Group has sent a submission to HREOC regarding the application it has received from the Australian Subscription and radio Television Association (ASTRA) for a 5-year exemption from the introduction of 100% captioning for television programs. We sought background information from the Australian Association of the Deaf , the Deafness Forum and Better Hearing Australia before making our submission.

We have also given feedback to the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) on the Australian Communication Authority’s (ACA’s) Payphone Policy Review Report. In our comments we continue to emphasise the need for all phone suppliers for both private, public and mobile phone services to be obliged to make those services accessible, available and affordable for people with disabilities.

Work continues to assist women in the ACT on Disability Support Pensions to access the Internet. This is being undertaken as part of our Grant from DCITA to assist in bridging the Digital Divide.

A collation of the feedback about payphone accessibility from ‘wwda-discuss’ members has been forwarded to the Telecommunications Disability Consumer Representation group who are beginning the development of compiling a Payphone Accessibility Code. We are currently awaiting feedback from WWDA members for anecdotes about payphone inaccessibility.

Sue Salthouse has resigned her position as Consumer Co-Chair of the Telstra Disability Forum (TDF). Handover to the new Co-Chair (Tony Starkey, representing Blind Citizens Australia) is underway. Margaret Cooper will take Sue’s place as the WWDA representative on the TDF.

Advice on telecommunications matters has been given to 2 organisations and 1 individual during the month.

10. News from Other Organisations

10.1. New Advocacy Service for Victorian Women with Disabilities

The Victorian Minister for Community Services, Sherryl Garbutt, has announced the establishment of the first disability advocacy service for women with disability in Victoria. The state government will provide $124,666 per year to Women’s Health Victoria to operate the statewide Victorian Women with Disabilities Network. In her announcement at an International Women’s Day function, Minister Garbutt recognised the greater marginalisation of women with disability, their lower levels of education and health, and rates of employment in comparison to men with disability. She said that the new service would provide advocacy and other supports to women with disability as well as undertaking research into how to better support women with disability. Women’s Health Victoria is an independent statewide women’s health promotion, advocacy and health information service. For information about this organisation, visit its website at www.whv.org.au.

For more information about the Victorian Women with Disabilities Network Service, contact: Sarah Waters, Project Officer, Ph 03 96623755 Fax 03 96637955. Email: sarah.waters@whv.org.au

10.2. Australia Institute Survey on barriers faced by NGOs in having their voices heard

The Australia Institute is currently conducting a survey of the role played by NGOs in Australian public debate. The Institute is seeking to examine the methods used by organisations to get their message out to politicians, the media and/or the public at large. The research will also explore how organisations describe their success, or failure, in this regard and what they see as the main barriers to having their message heard. For more information about this Study, contact: Richard Denniss on (02) 6249 6221.

10.3. Beijng +10 : Women Taking Action Locally and Globally – Update

2004 is an important review period for three of the most significant women’s human rights instruments in Australia:

  • The 10 year review of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA)
  • The 20th Anniversary of Australia’s Sex Discrimination Act 1984, and
  • The Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Committee’s review of Australia’s report on its implementation of CEDAW (in 2005)

To mark this important review point, the Centre for Refugee Research (CRR), the Australian National Committee on Refugee Women (ANCORW) and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) are coordinating a series of Australian events that will assess the state of women’s human rights in Australia, inform the sub-regional NGO input into the Asia Pacific Regional Beijing Plus 10 process and review the achievements of the Australia’s Sex Discrimination Act 1984. Input from these events will feed into the 10 year review of the BPFA, the WRANA (Women’s Rights Action Network) shadow report review of CEDAW (2005) and a paper on the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

If you would like more information about how you can participate in these events, contact:
Carole Shaw
The Centre for Refugee Research, UNSW, Sydney 2052
Tel: + 61 (0)2 9385 1859
email: c.shaw@unsw.edu.au

10.4. National Community Care Coalition

Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) has been funded by The Myer Foundation, to establish a Community Care Coalition and run a Community Care Awareness Program over the next twelve months. The coalition of partner organizations is to include key peak organizations considered important to achieving the project’s objectives. The Community Care Awareness Program aims to:

  • highlight the strategic importance of care in the community;
  • raise the profile of care in the community for people of all ages including older Australians;
  • strongly put the case to all governments and the community, the need for significantly increased funding to community care;
  • ensure that steps are taken to simplify and enhance the effectiveness of the community care system in Australia over the next 3 years.

Current membership of the Community Care Coalition includes:

  • Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS);
  • ACROD;
  • Aged and Community Services Australia
  • Alzheimer’s Australia;
  • Australian Association of Gerontology;
  • Australian Council for Community Nursing Services;
  • Australian Medical Association;
  • Australian Society for Geriatric Medicine;
  • Carers Australia;
  • Catholic Health Australia;
  • Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia;
  • National Mental Health Council of Australia;
  • Australian Federation of Disability Organisations.

Planning is currently underway for a National Community Care Summit to be held in Canberra in late July/August 2004 which will aim to bring together outcomes from the various State activities and gain considerable national media coverage. For more information about the Community Care Coalition, contact:
Aged and Community Services Australia
Level One, 36 Albert Road
South Melbourne VIC 3205
Ph: 03 9686 3460
Fx: 03 9686 3453
email: info@agedcare.org.au

10.5. Services First Coalition

Services First is a national coalition of service providers and consumers in health, education and community services. It was established in March 2004 to raise for public debate the need for more investment by the Australian Government in essential services. Services First is non party-political. It will not endorse or otherwise support any parties or candidates and will suspend activities once a Federal Election is formally called. The goal of the Services First Coalition is: ‘to ensure public revenue is adequate to support the provision of needed health, education, and community services and to encourage the political parties to give priority to dealing with these problems, instead of another round of income tax cuts’.

More information about the Services First Coalition, including fact sheets and latest press releases, can be found at the Services First Website. Go to: http://www.servicesfirst.org.au/

10.6. Disability Studies and Research Institute (DSaRI) May Seminar

The Disability Studies and Research Institute (DSaRI) in conjunction with the School of Social Work UNSW will conduct its May Seminar on ‘Supporting Families Who Have a Child With a Disability: Exploring the Assessment Experience’. The Seminar will take place:

Friday 14 May 2004 from 11.30am – 1.30pm
Committee Room 3, Chancellery Building, UNSW
Gate 9, High Street, Kensington

For more information, contact:
Gem Mathieu
Tel: (02) 9319 6622 Fax: (02) 9318 1372
Email: gemm@dsari.org.au

11. WWDA Representation

On April 29th, Annie Parkinson represented WWDA at the Disability Council of NSW Roundtable Discussion on ‘Belonging to the Community: have the policies of deinstitutionalization achieved a sense of belonging in the community?’. A report from this Roundtable meeting will be provided in next month’s Update Bulletin.

On March 24th, Sue Salthouse represented WWDA at the Community Campaign and Advocacy Skills Workshop, conducted by the Reichstein Foundation in Victoria. If anyone would like a copy of Sue’s report from the Workshop, please contact the WWDA Office via email on: wwda@wwda.org.au

12. New on the WWDA Website

Recent additions to the WWDA website include:

WWDA Submission to the South Australian Government’s Discussion Paper: “Valuing South Australia’s Women: Towards A Women’s Safety Strategy For South Australia” Go to: www.wwda.org.au/ saviolsub.htm

WWDA Update Bulletin March 2004. Go to: www.wwda.org.au/ bullmar04.htm