February 2005


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 February 2005. 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 Project – Development of an Accessible Information and Referral Portal for Women With Disabilities in Australia

In early October 2004, WWDA received funding from the then Commonwealth Office of the Status of Women (OSW) to conduct a capacity building project. Specifically, the project is to research and develop an accessible Information and Referral Portal of relevant services, agencies, and organizations at national, State/Territory, regional and local levels. WWDA will also develop a Data Collection System which records incoming requests for information from women with disabilities.

WWDA commenced the Project in October 2004, developing a detailed Project Plan which was made available to members and other interested parties. WWDA’s publicity for the Project also resulted in a large number of services and organizations contributing information for inclusion into the Information and Referral Portal.

WWDA has recently completed a Progress Report on the Project, which is available to anyone who is interested. If you would like a copy of WWDA’s Progress Report on the Development of an Accessible Information and Referral Portal for Women With Disabilities in Australia, please contact the WWDA Office via email at: wwda@wwda.org.au


2. Fifth Australian Women’s Health Conference – Reflecting on Gender, Confronting the Evidence

The 5th Australian Women’s Health Conference is being held on 20-22 April 2005 at the Carlton Crest Hotel in Victoria. The Conference will provide a forum for individuals, organisations and services involved and concerned with women’s health. Building on the national and international knowledge and research generated over the past two decades, this conference will examine the evidence from the perspective of gender as a determinant of women’s health, in all its dimensions.

WWDA’s abstracts were accepted, and WWDA has been invited to present two papers at the 5th Australian Women’s Health Conference. WWDA’s papers will focus on Sterilisation of Women and Girls with Disabilities in Australia, and Access to Breast and Cervical Screening for Women with Disabilities in Australia. Sue Salthouse and Leanne Dowse will be presenting the papers for WWDA.

Associate-Professor Carol Thomas will be a plenary speaker at the 5th Australian Women’s Health Conference. Dr Thomas has an international reputation for her published work in disability studies – particularly on gender and disability, and in the fields of cancer and palliative care. She is best known for her book Female Forms: experiencing and understanding disability (1999). As a disabled woman herself, Carol has a passionate interest in scholarship that advances the social interests of disabled people. She is a member of the Executive Editorial Board of the journal Disability and Society, and a regular conference speaker. A sociologist by background, Carol is based in the Institute for Health Research at Lancaster University, UK.

For more information about the 5th Australian Women’s Health Conference, go to: www.womenshealth2005.com.au

You can also access Dr Thomas’ abstract ‘Gender and Disability’ from the Conference website.


3. National Cervical Cancer Screening Program Forum

WWDA has been invited to attend the national forum ‘Cervical Health, Future Directions – A Women’s Health Forum’ being held in Canberra on March 15, 2005. The purpose of the Forum will be to discuss the revised draft NHMRC Guidelines for the management of well women with an abnormal pap smear result. The revised guidelines are designed to assist women, medical practitioners and health professionals make informed decisions about their options in the event of an abnormal pap test. They were developed by an independent review group consisting of professional experts, consumers and representatives from other interested bodies.

The forum will provide information on the revised guideline recommendations and provide an opportunity for clarification and discussion. Annie Parkinson and Sue Salthouse will represent WWDA at the forum, and will report back to members in the next Update Report.

For more information on the NHMRC Guidelines for the management of well women with an abnormal pap smear, contact:

Jo Kichenside
Department of Health & Ageing
Ph: 02 62898294
Email: jokichenside@health.gov.au


4. Outcomes of the ‘People with Disability: Participation & Payments Forum’

More than 30 disability, welfare and employment services agencies attended the People with Disability: Participation & Payments Forum held in Melbourne on Thursday, 3 February to consider options for the reform of income support and employment policies for people with disability and ways that the community sector can contribute to it. WWDA was represented at this Forum by Sheila King and Pamela Menere.

The forum was organised by: Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO); Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS); People with Disability Australia (PWDA); ACROD; ACE National Network; and the National Welfare Rights Network. The Disability Advisory Council, Victoria, supported the forum.

The Hon Kevin Andrews, Minister for Employment, addressed participants, saying that the Government had not yet decided on a policy for the reform of the Disability Support Pension or employment services. Participants welcomed the Minister’s assurances that the sector would be consulted before any changes were introduced.

Participants considered a set of draft principles that should underlie any reform of income support payments or employment support for people with disability who are workforce aged. They also discussed a set of strategies for action, including the formation of a national alliance. Both were given in-principle support. (The Principles for Disability Reform and the Strategies to Achieve Positive Disability Reform are available from AFDO – email: afdo@afdo.org.au)

Peak national disability, welfare and employment services agencies have been asked to endorse both documents and join the alliance. A smaller organising group was established to provide a coordinating role for the alliance – this is made up of the organisations listed above and the Physical Disability Council of Australia (PDCA).

The meeting discussed the need for collaboration with state and local groups and actions to promote this will be pursued.

The papers from the forum will be available on-line soon, from the AFDO website (www.afdo.org.au). The papers include:

The View From The Ground (Maryanne Diamond, CEO, Australian Federation of Disability Organisations)
Lessons from the McClure Report (Michael Raper, President, National Welfare Rights Network)
Issues in Working Age Reform (The Hon Kevin Andrews, Minister for Employment)
Revisiting the Disability Reform Bill, 2002 (Peter Davidson, Policy Officer, ACOSS)
Employment: Structural and System Challenges (Lucy Macali, EO, ACE National Network)

The alliance has sought endorsement of the draft principles and proposed strategies. Once this is complete, representatives of the alliance will seek to meet with members of the Government and Opposition parties to discuss the principles and options for community consultation.


5. Mobility International USA

Mobility International USA was co-founded in 1981 and works in four main areas to provide programs and services including: National Clearinghouse on Disability & Exchange (NCDE); International Development & Disability; International Exchange Programs; and Women, Disability and Development. MIUSA works for empowerment, equal opportunities and human rights for women and girls with disabilities around the world. MIUSA’s Loud, Proud & Passionate! projects focus on infusing the perspectives of women with disabilities into international women’s movements and development agendas.

WWDA was recently invited by Mobility International USA to contribute a story for inclusion into a new publication “Success Stories of Inclusive Development”. WWDA’s contribution focused on the development and role of WWDA (as an organization run by women with disabilities for women with disabilities), along with specific information about WWDA’s systemic advocacy work around the issue of sterilization.

For more information about MIUSA, go to: www.miusa.org


6. News from Other Organisations

6.1. Amnesty International National Plan of Action to address violence against women in all its forms

Amnesty International has embarked on a six year global campaign to Stop Violence against Women. This year marks the 10 year anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The Platform for Action, which was developed and agreed to jointly by governments and NGOs, set out a blueprint for governments and communities to advance women’s rights around the world. One of the 12 ‘critical areas of concern’ identified in the Platform was the need to take action to prevent and eliminate violence against women. One of the actions required by governments is to:

Formulate and implement, at all appropriate levels, plans of action to eliminate violence against women.

A similar obligation is set out in the ‘Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women’, which urges member states to:

Consider the possibility of developing national plans of action to promote the protection of women against any form of violence;

Efforts to stop violence against women are being made in Australia but a ‘whole of government’ approach is needed. Amnesty International Australia believes that it is time to give this issue the national prominence, recognition and coordination it deserves. A National Plan of Action would facilitate a more co-ordinated and consistent government policy across states, more effective use of financial resources and expertise, a coherent approach to prevention, and the possibility of mainstreaming neglected and under-resourced issues.

Amnesty International Australia believes that a National Plan of Action must be developed using a human rights framework and address structural inequalities that underpin violence against women. It must be developed in consultation with the sector.

Amnesty International Australia is inviting organisations working to eliminate violence against women and working for equality and human rights in Australia to join them in their campaign for a National Plan of Action. On March 8, International Women’s Day, Amnesty International Australia will release a public petition calling for a National Plan of Action. On that day they will also be listing the organisations that support the campaign for a National Plan of Action to date.

For more information, you can contact:

Kate Lappin
Project Coordinator, Stop Violence Against Women Campaign
Amnesty International Australia
14 Risley St
Richmond North 3121 VIC
Tel: 03 8420 1217
Email klappin@amnesty.org.au

6.2. Women in Adult and Vocational Education Inc (WAVE) 2005 National Forum

The Women in Adult and Vocational Education Inc (WAVE) 2005 National Forum ‘Women Living and Learning: Rhetoric or Reality? – A review of women and lifelong learning in Australia’ is to be held on 7-8 April, 2005 at the Canberra Institute of Technology (Civic Campus). The WAVE Forum will consider the following:

  • How relevant is VET to Australian women?
  • How responsive is VET to Australian women?
  • How/ do life long learning principles apply to women who work in the VET sector?

For more information you can contact:

Registrations contact: Email: waveregistrations@bigpond.com
Workshops: contact: Email: maria.rickert@det.nsw.edu.au
Program details are available on www.converse.com.au

6.3. New Organisation – Rights Australia Inc

Rights Australia Inc is a newly established national human rights campaign organisation. The mission of Rights Australia is to bring to the community’s attention situations where:

  • human rights are being neglected and abused;
  • lives could be improved if human rights were protected; and
  • support can be given for better and lasting protection of human rights.

To achieve this, Rights Australia will work in ways which are positive and uniting, not divisive or driven by fear. Rights Australia will also campaign for the adoption of a Bill of Rights or a Human Rights Charter by the nation. At the launch of Rights Australia, the Executive Director Mr. Howard Glenn, said:

“It is vital to maintain a public focus on the increasing erosion of human rights in the Australian community and to raise public awareness of the centrality of human rights to a healthy democracy and civil society. We believe that Australia would be a much better place if everyone had an understanding of basic human rights; and these rights were monitored and protected against the actions or neglect of government. The quality of our lives would be improved by knowledge that there are standards which exist and can be enforced.”

For more information about Rights Australia contact:

Rights Australia Inc
PO Box 559
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Email: info@rightsaustralia.org.au
Website: www.rightsaustralia.org.au

6.4. Children and Families in Transition Research Project

Children and Families in Transition is a research project funded by the Telstra Foundation. It involves professional workers from Centacare Family Services (SA) working in partnership with academic and research staff from the Conflict Management Research Group at the University of South Australia. The Children and Families in Transition project aims to research the experiences and special service needs of separated families and their children in order to understand and develop appropriate child-centred practices and strategies to promote positive, cooperative parenting. This research will inform a ‘best practice’ model of service provision which will be piloted and tested. It is envisaged that this model will provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ in a specially designed child-centred location for children and families who are experiencing separation and divorce. The model will be designed to assist separating families to recognise and centralise the best interests of their children in their post-separation arrangements.

The first stage of the project involves surveying service providers to identify models, practices, issues, needs and trends in their work with children and families who are experiencing separation and divorce. The responses received from this survey will help to inform subsequent stages of the research.

The survey can be accessed online and will be available until March 25th 2005 at:
http://www.unisanet.unisa.edu.au/TellUS2/SurveyForm.asp?ID=1824

For more information, contact:

Associate Professor Dale Bagshaw
University of South Australia
Ph: (08) 83024375
Email: dale.bagshaw@unisa.edu.au

or

Ms. Rhonda Porter
Executive Officer of the Human Research Ethics Committee
Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences
University of South Australia
Ph: (08) 8302 0341
Email: Rhonda.Porter@unisa.edu.au


7. Response from Telstra

In December 2004, WWDA wrote to the CEO of Telstra to raise a number of issues of concern which had been raised by WWDA members. WWDA raised the issue of Telstra’s Disability Equipment Program, which members have found difficult to locate on Telstra’s website. WWDA also raised concerns regarding Telstra’s Directory Assistance Information. WWDA expressed its concern that Telstra’s FREE directory assistance number appears not to be promoted or publicized by Telstra to the public. WWDA’s letter sought clarification from Telstra as to the directory assistance services provided by Telstra, including the charges for the various services offered. WWDA has also sought information as to how Telstra promotes and publicizes its FREE Telstra directory assistance number.

WWDA recently received a response to our letter, and a copy of Telstra’s response is provided here for your information.

24 January 2005

Dear Carolyn

Thank you again for your letter, 16 December 2004, to our CEO, Dr Switkowski, in which you raise two issues of interest to Women With Disabilities Australia: online access to Telstra’s Disability Equipment Program; and Telstra Directory Assistance Information. Dr Switkowski has asked me to respond to you on his behalf. Please accept my apologies for not providing a complete response earlier.

Disability Equipment Program
While I acknowledge that there is no direct link from the Telstra.com home page to the Telstra Disability Equipment Program online site, the site is readily accessible from the Telstra.com home page by: clicking on Home and Family and scrolling down to the Telstra Disability Services link on that page (the Disability Equipment Program Catalogue site is clearly accessible as a specific drop down menu option); and/or typing Disability into the search function on Telstra.com. This brings up links to Telstra’s Disability Services web pages and to the Telstra Disability Equipment Program Catalogue.

Further, Telstra promotes its Disability Services and Disability Equipment Catalogue web site widely to member-based and service provider disability organisations. We also provide promotional materials and specific references to the web site in targeted advertising and promotion, and at community, aged and disability sector events across metropolitan and regional Australia.

Telstra Directory Assistance Information
To clarify the Directory Assistance services provided by Telstra and Sensis:
Sensis 1234 is a premium operator assisted service that has different functionality to Telstra’s Directory Assistance service available via 1223 and 12455. Sensis 1234 allows callers to receive information and connection to nearly all residences and businesses in Australia. It can provide a phone number or a more extensive request for, let’s say. A florist in Brisbane that is open 24 hours and takes Diners that you may not know the name of. It also enables you to talk directly with an operator rather than using voice recognition technology.

Operators can also provide caller to Sensis 1234 with street directions, via SMS or, on the caller’s request, they will remain on line to provide turn by turn instructions. The service is available to most Telstra fixed -line and post-paid mobile subscribers. It has a pay-as-you-go pricing structure comprised of $0.40 per call flat rate (on connection to operator) and $0.40 per second (for time spent with the operator) plus standard call charges on connection to a requested number. Mobile phones will also incur standard call charges.

Directory Assistance (1223 and 12455) enables callers to obtain the telephone number for a known residential, business or government listing. All calls are answered by the voice recognition system that attempts to match the listing requested, if it cannot be matched, then an operator will assist with completing the request.

Directory Assistance (1223 and 12455) is free to Telstra residential phones and a charge of 44 cents applies to calls from business fixed lines and mobile telephone. Telstra fixed line callers who dial 12455 are provided with the option to connect to the requested number, a charge of $1.10 applies on selection of the connection option.

Directory Assistance only provides the telephone number for the requested listing and does no provide street directions nor other extensive information provided through the Sensis 1234 service such as addresses, email addresses, website addresses, opening hours etc.

Directory Assistance on 1223 and 12455* is advertised as a free directory assistance service for Telstra residential fixed line customers in all White Pages directories that are delivered to households and businesses throughout Australia. For example, it is advertised on the Contents Page (first page after the inside front cover), and at the top of the first Telstra page (following the Telstra contents page).

Directory Assistance 1223 and 12455 are also advertised online on Telstra’s website at:
www.telstra.com.au/contact/direcotry_assist.html and
www.telstra.com.au/phones/homeservices/distance_da.htm

These appear as links when searching for “directory assistance” on Telstra.com. Directory Assistance o 1223 and 12455 and the Telstra Directory Assistance Helpline are also described online in the Telstra Disability Services site at:
www.telsra.com.au/disability/catalogue/additional.htm#directoryassistance

Further, I am aware that Sensis is planning a public awareness campaign to differentiate the Telstra Directory Assistance service from the Sensis 1234 premium voice service. This campaign will describe the value proposition of both services.

If you would like additional information or clarification on any of the above, please contact Mr Bert Ciavarra, Manager of Telstra Disability Services on 0396345686.

Yours sincerely
Robert Morsillo
Group Manager

*On 12455 fixed line callers are provided with the option to connect to the requested number, a charge of $1.10 applies on selection of the connection option.


8. New on the WWDA Website

Additions to the WWDA website this month include:

WWDA Update Report November 2004
Go to: www.wwda.org.au/bullnov04.htm

WWDA Update Report December 2004/January2005
Go to: www.wwda.org.au/bulldec04.htm

WWDA Submission to the Queensland Review of Maternity Services (Dec 2004)
Go to: www.wwda.org.au/matern.htm