January – February 2008

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 from WWDA for the months of January and February 2008. If you have any questions, or would like more information on anything in this report, please email Carolyn or Shirley at:wwda@wwda.org.au


World Conference of Women’s Shelters

United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Update

Draft National Patient Charter of Rights

Australian Government Social Inclusion Board

WWDA Submission to the Review of the Family Violence Act (Tasmania)

Victorian Women with Disabilities Network Advocacy Information Service – Building the Evidence Project

Challenge Grant to End Violence Against Women

Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences

Communiqu�: Special Meeting of Disability Ministers, Melbourne

United Nations experts welcome Australia’s apology to indigenous peoples

New Report: State of the World’s Children 2008

New Book: A Deafening Silence: Hidden Violence Against Women and Children

National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) Review – Second Consultation

Research Study – Parents of Young Adults with Intellectual Impairment

WWDA Resource Manual on Violence Against Women With Disabilities

Join WWDA!

1. World Conference of Women’s Shelters

Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) in conjunction with the Disabled Women’s Network (DAWN) Canada, have submitted a proposal to present a paper and workshop at the first ever World Conference on Shelters, to be held in Alberta, Canada, September 8 – 11, 2008.

The Conference, ‘Discovering the Common Core: Practical Frameworks for Change’ will present a new opportunity for family violence workers in Alberta and around the world to learn from international experts and each other. The Conference host, Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters, state: “Too often, women’s shelter work is overlooked in discussions on family violence, when in reality they are at the forefront of dealing with this issue. This Conference will increase the capacity of shelters in Alberta, across Canada, and around the world to affect change in their organizations and their communities to better meet the needs of ethnocultural, multicultural and racial communities when dealing with family violence.”

WWDA and DAWN’s proposal ‘Forgotten Sisters: Recognising and Responding to Domestic Violence in the Lives of Women with Disabilities’ will address a range of issues, including for example, incidence, prevalence, barriers to services, key strategies to end and prevent violence against women with disabilities. Central to WWDA and DAWN’s presentation is the need for meaningful engagement with women with disabilities so that their experiences and their views are integral to identifying potential solutions and building successful interventions.

WWDA and DAWN are now awaiting confirmation from the Conference organisers to see if our presentation has been accepted. Should we be successful we will then need to work hard to secure the funds to enable our representatives to attend.

For more information:
Discovering the Common Core: Practical Frameworks for Change
September 8 – 11, 2008, Edmonton, Alberta CANADA
Web: www.womenshelter.ca/home_en.php)

2. United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Update

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and its Optional Protocol were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 13 December 2006, and opened for signature on 30 March 2007. On 30 March, 81 Member States and the European Community signed the Convention, the highest number of signatures of any human rights convention on its opening day. 44 Member States signed the Optional Protocol, and 1 Member State (Jamaica) ratified the Convention. The Convention was negotiated during eight sessions of an Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly from 2002 to 2006, making it the fastest negotiated human rights treaty. The Convention aims to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy human rights on an equal basis with others.

As of 8 February 2008, there were 16 ratifications of the Convention, and 10 ratifications of the Optional Protocol. The Optional Protocol allows the UN to receive and consider communications from or on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals subject to its jurisdiction who claim to be victims of a violation by that State Party of the provisions of the Convention.

Having signed the CRPD, Australia has signaled its intention to ‘continue the treaty-making process’ (UN 1999). Ratification, on the other hand, is where a country officially decides that it wants to become a State Party to a convention.

Australia is now at the point of undertaking the process of ratification. This will involve a number of processes, including a National Interest Analysis (NIA), which examines the foreseeable economic, environmental, social and cultural effects of the Convention; the obligations imposed by the treaty; its direct financial costs to Australia; how the treaty will be implemented domestically; and what consultation has occurred in relation to the treaty. On completion of the NIA, it will be tabled in both Houses of the Australian Parliament along with texts of the Convention.

WWDA is currently participating in a series of Consultations being undertaken as part of the Australian Government’s National Interest Analysis in relation to the ratification of the CRPD. These consultation workshops aim to obtain the views of the disability sector about:

  • Australia’s current level of compliance with CRPD obligations;
  • The foreseeable economic, environmental, social and cultural effects of implementation of the CRPD within Australia, including the likely costs of implementation;
  • The ways in which the Australian government should implement the CRPD in Australia;
  • Whether Australia’s ratification of the CRPD and its Optional Protocol should be accompanied by policy instruments to clarify or modify their effect in Australian law.

The Consultations with the disability sector are being conducted by People with Disability Australia (PWDA). PWDA has prepared a Background Paper entitled ‘Impacts in Australia of Ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’. If anyone would like a copy of this Paper emailed to them, please contact wwda@wwda.org.au.

3. Draft National Patient Charter of Rights

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care is seeking written submissions on a draft National Patient Charter of Rights. The National Charter of Rights will underpin the provision of safe and high quality health care and support a shared understanding of the rights and responsibilities of patients, consumers and health care providers.

A Consultation Paper has been developed and provides background information regarding the development of the patient charter, discussion of how a charter might be used, and a draft charter. The paper also includes a summary of the issues and questions on which the Commission is seeking feedback.

A PDF version of the Consultation Paper is available from the Commission’s website at: www.safetyandquality.gov.au

WWDA has requested a Word or RTF version of the Paper, and has also requested the Commission to make an accessible version available on its website.

The Commission will be accepting written submissions up to 7 March 2008. Submissions marked “National Patient Charter of Rights” should be mailed to:
GPO Box 5480
Or email to mail@safetyandquality.gov.au

Please contact Dr Nicola Dunbar via email on nicola.dunbar@safetyandquality.gov.au should you require any further information about this initiative.

4. Australian Government Social Inclusion Board

The Rudd Labor Government has sought expressions of interest from energetic leaders with a record of achievement in the private, public and not for profit sectors as inaugural members of the Australian Social Inclusion Board. They will work with Government to champion social inclusion and pursue specific inclusion goals. The Government is looking for leaders who can use their networks, expertise or entrepreneurial skills to tackle disadvantage and maximise economic and social participation. Members will be appointed by the Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister for up to three years. The Board will meet at least six times in its first year with meetings and consultations around Australia. It will provide advice and input on major aspects of the social inclusion agenda including the use of evidence, innovative solutions and ‘whole of government’ strategies.

WWDA has supported Margie Charlesworth (WWDA Secretary) to submit an Expression of Interest to the Australian Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet for the Australian Social Inclusion Board. The public announcement of the successful applicants is anticipated for late February/early March.

5. WWDA Submission to the Review of the Family Violence Act (Tasmania)

WWDA recently provided a submission to the Review of the Family Violence Act (Tasmania). This Act was introduced to enable the delivery of the integrated ‘Safe at Home’ response to family violence. The objectives of Safe at Home are to: achieve a reduction in the level of family violence in the medium to long term; improve safety for adult and child victims, and change the offending behaviour of those responsible for the violence.

‘Safe at Home’ involves a range of services working together to protect and support victims of family violence, including young people and children, while making offenders responsible for their behaviour. Safe At Home is based on the following principles:

  • The safety of victims is paramount,
  • Police are responsible for providing immediate intervention to secure victim safety and manage the risk that the offender might repeat or escalate the violence,
  • The victim does not determine the response of the justice system,
  • Family violence is a crime and arrest and prosecution will occur wherever evidence of an offence exists,
  • Wherever possible victims should be able to choose to remain in or return (as soon as possible) to their own homes, and
  • The criminal justice response to family violence should be seamless and the roles and responsibilities of each participating agency and service should be clear.

For the purposes of WWDA’s submission to the Review, WWDA concentrated on addressing two main areas: the ‘Definition of Relationship’; and the ‘Definition of Domestic Violence. WWDA believes that these two areas set the scope of the legislation and are of significant importance to women with disabilities in this context. WWDA’s submission continues to stress the need for domestic violence legislation to incorporate a definition and description of ‘family’ and/or ‘domestic relationship’ which is sufficiently broad to cover:

  • spousal relationships (past and present);
  • intimate personal relationships (past and present, including dating relationships, same sex relationships, and non-sexual intimate personal relationships);
  • family relationships (with a broad definition of relative which also reflects the extent of kinship and family relationships within indigenous and CALD communities);
  • formal and informal care relationships (between a person and a carer which takes place for fee or reward, or for no fee or reward); and,
  • persons who are ordinarily members of a household.

WWDA also recommends that: ‘any definition of ‘domestic/family violence’ must be inclusive of the forms of violence as experienced by women with disabilities’, and that the wording of the Family Violence Act (Tasmania) must be specific enough to encompass the circumstances and contexts within which women with disabilities experience domestic/family violence.

For more information about the Review of the Family Violence Act (Tasmania), contact:
Ms Kylie Smith
Family Violence Act Review,
Urbis, Level 12, 120 Collins St
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: 03 86634830
Email: ksmith@urbis.com.au

6. Victorian Women with Disabilities Network Advocacy Information Service – Building the Evidence Project

The Victorian Women with Disabilities Network Advocacy Information Service (VWDN AIS), in conjunction with the University of Melbourne is undertaking a research project entitled ‘Building the Evidence’. This Project aims to work with government and the relevant family violence and disability sectors to improve the capacity of family violence services to respond to women with disabilities experiencing violence. It will make recommendations to government and relevant sectors for improvements in service responses, training, data collection, evaluation and monitoring processes. The main objectives of the Project are to:

  • Identify current family violence sector standards and the gaps in standards in relation to supporting women with disabilities;
  • Identify, document and make recommendations about current data collection processes by government and relevant sectors;
  • Document findings about the incidence and nature of violence against women with disabilities in Victoria, drawing upon current data collection processes;
  • Document the workforce development needs and training initiatives of the family violence sector and, where feasible, the disability sector;
  • Document best practice initiatives being undertaken by the family violence sector to support women with disabilities experiencing violence;
  • Identify human rights conventions and their implications for services supporting women with disabilities experiencing violence;
  • Consult with women with disabilities who are no longer living in violent situations about their experiences of seeking assistance in combating the violence.

For more information about the ‘Building the Evidence’ Project:
Lucy Healy, Research Co-ordinator
Victorian Women with Disabilities Network Advocacy Information Service (VWDN AIS)
Ph: 03 9664 9317 (Tues, Wed, Thurs)
Email: project1@whv.org.au
Web: www.whv.org.au/vwdn/

7. Challenge Grant to End Violence Against Women

In late January 2008, the United Nations Foundation announced its support for the “Say NO to Violence against Women” campaign. The UN Foundation was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. The UN Foundation builds and implements public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach.

The UN Foundation will donate $1 (US) for each the first 100,000 signatures to the online campaign that is run by the UN Development Fund for Women, UNIFEM. The contributions will go to the UNIFEM-managed UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.

“Recent UN research has demonstrated the shameful scope of violence against women around the world, where one in three women are subject to some form of coercion or abuse in their lifetimes,” said Timothy E. Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation. “To turn the tide on violence, the international community must work together to stand up for the human rights of women and that’s what UNIFEM’s “Say NO” campaign does. It allows people everywhere to go on record and stand up for a world free of violence against women.”

People can sign on to the campaign at www.sayNOtoviolence.org.

The “Say No to Violence against Women” campaign was launched November 26, 2007. To date more than 18,000 people worldwide have signed the call that urges an end to violence against women and encourages support to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. This Trust Fund, managed by UNIFEM for the UN system, supports innovative initiatives by governments and non-governmental organizations to end violence against women. Since its establishment in 1996, it has helped fund some 250 initiatives in 120 countries.

For more information about the campaign visit: www.sayNOtoviolence.org or www.unfoundation.org.

8. Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights in resolution 1994/45, adopted on 4 March 1994, decided to appoint a Special Rapporteur on violence against women, including its causes and consequences. The mandate was extended by the Commission on Human Rights in 2003, at its 59th session in resolution 2003/45. In the same resolution the Commission on Human Rights:

“Strongly condemning all acts of violence against women and girls and in this regard called, in accordance with the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, for the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence in the family, within the general community and where perpetrated or condoned by the State, and emphasized the duty of Governments to refrain from engaging in violence against women and to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and, in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women and to take appropriate and effective action concerning acts of violence against women, whether those acts are perpetrated by the State, by private persons or by armed groups or warring factions, and to provide access to just and effective remedies and specialized, including medical, assistance to victims;

Affirmed, in this light, that violence against women constitutes a violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and that violence against women impairs or nullifies their enjoyment of those rights and freedoms.”

According to her mandate the Special Rapporteur is requested to:

    1. Seek and receive information on violence against women, its causes and consequences from Governments, treaty bodies, specialized agencies, other special rapporteurs responsible for various human rights questions and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, including women’s organizations, and to respond effectively to such information;


    1. Recommend measures, ways and means, at the national, regional and international levels, to eliminate violence against women and its causes, and to remedy its consequences;


  1. Work closely with other special rapporteurs, special representatives, working groups and independent experts of the Commission on Human Rights and the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities and with the treaty bodies, taking into account the Commission’s request that they regularly and systematically include in their reports available information on human rights violations affecting women, and cooperate closely with the Commission on the Status of Women in the discharge of its functions.

In the discharge of the mandate the Special Rapporteur:

  • transmits urgent appeals and communications to States regarding alleged cases of violence against women;
  • undertakes fact-finding country visits;
  • submits annual thematic reports;

Go to: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/women/rapporteur/

Dr. Yakin Ert�rk
Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

9. Communiqu�: Special Meeting of Disability Ministers, Melbourne

A new era of cooperation on disability services was welcomed in Melbourne by Commonwealth, State and Territory Disability Ministers on February 1, 2008.

The meeting, chaired by the Federal Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, and supported by Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, Bill Shorten, marked the start of talks on the fourth Commonwealth State and Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA 4).

The Ministers formally agreed to the key priority areas which will guide the development of the Agreement. The Australian Government is looking forward to working with the States and Territories, disability stakeholders and the community to get a better deal for people with disabilities.

Also on the agenda was the development of the Australian Government’s National Disability Strategy, which will provide leadership in disability policy and draw on the experience of States and Territories. The National Disability Strategy is an historic opportunity for the Commonwealth, States and Territories to work together with the community to ensure the needs of people with disabilities and their families are addressed through coordinated and comprehensive policy planning – across all Government Departments and services.

The National Disability Strategy and the CSTDA 4 are also vehicles through which Ministers can work together on the eight key priority areas identified by Labor at the election:

  • Better measurement of current and future need for disability services;
  • Moving toward national population benchmarks for key disability service types;
  • Making older carers a priority for all disability services under the CSTDA;
  • Quality improvement systems based on the National Disability Service Standards for all Agreement services;
  • Improved service planning and strategies to simplify access to services under the CSTDA;
  • Focusing on early intervention, lifelong planning and increasing the independence and social participation of people with a disability;
  • Improved workforce capacities, and;
  • Access to services by Indigenous people with disabilities.

Ministers agreed to progress specific initiatives in relation to autism and also reported back on the progression of young people with disabilities in residential aged care COAG initiative.

Many States and Territories have undertaken reform processes aimed at improving outcomes for people with disabilities, their families and carers. The Ministers have committed to working together to ensure the momentum for change and improvement continues, recognising the huge challenges ahead of us in this area. The opportunity to progress disability as part of the Australian Government’s social inclusion agenda highlights the commitment to improving the quality of life for people with a disability.

The Disability Ministers have agreed to meet again in March to continue work on the new Agreement.

10. United Nations experts welcome Australia’s apology to indigenous peoples

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people; the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the rights to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context; and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued the following statement on February 18, 2008:

We warmly welcome the speech delivered by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at the Federal Parliament on 13 February 2008, offering an apology to Australia’s indigenous peoples for the pain and indignity they have endured as a consequence of past laws and policies. We are specially moved by the apology offered to the members of the Stolen Generation and their families, victims of a deliberate policy of assimilation of the Aboriginal culture that contradicted the basic human rights principles of equality and dignity. We welcome the Australian Government’s commitment to build a common future with the indigenous peoples of the country based on mutual respect. Australia’s efforts to acknowledge historical injustices and to promote reconciliation set an example of how to enhance harmonious and cooperative relationships between indigenous peoples and States, in the spirit of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This apology will strengthen the moral fabric of the country and reinforce the Aboriginal contribution to Australian society.

The UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the rights to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context; and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention have made official visits to Australia in recent years. The Government of Australia is encouraged to benefit from the analysis and recommendations of these mandate holders in taking forward practical measures to protect and promote the rights of Aboriginal peoples.

The reports of special procedures can be found at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/chr/special/

11. New Report: State of the World’s Children 2008

a picture of the cover of the report showing a young child.

The State of the World’s Children 2008 assesses the state of child survival and primary health care for mothers, newborns and children today. These issues serve as sensitive barometers of a country’s development and wellbeing and as evidence of its priorities and values. Investing in the health of children and their mothers is a human rights imperative and one of the surest ways for a country to set its course towards a better future.

The full report, and/or the Executive Summary can be downloaded from: www.unicef.org/sowc08/report/report.php

12. New Book: A Deafening Silence: Hidden Violence Against Women and Children

a picture of the cover of the book.

A Deafening Silence: Hidden Violence Against Women and Children By Patrizia Romito. This extraordinary book describes the links between discrimination, violence against women and violence against children and, uniquely, uncovers the strategies and tactics used for concealing it. Her analysis, corroborated by a solid theoretical framework as well as up-to-date international research data, powerfully reveals the interconnectedness of what might appear as separate events or measures. The book also demonstrates how the same tactics and strategies are at work in various different countries. Written in a clear and direct style, the book is an essential tool for anyone – professional, researcher or activist – wanting to understand male violence against women and children and to oppose it.

ISBN: 1861349610
Publisher: Policy Press, 2008
Format: Paperback; Language: English
Available in Australia from Booktopia

13. National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) Review – Second Consultation

The Australian Government, through the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) currently funds 68 disability advocacy services around Australia under the National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP). The NDAP has been undergoing a process of review and a series of changes, some of which include: development of new Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and accompanying Service Standards; standard policies and procedures; and standardised criteria for prioritising access to disability advocacy agencies.

As part of WWDA’s funding contract with FaHCSIA, we are required to provide significant input into this review process. WWDA has already attended a series of forums and has also provided a written submission (‘Working Towards a Common Understanding of Advocacy’) to the Review. A copy of WWDA’s Submission will soon be made available on WWDA’s website. If anyone would like a copy of the Submission, please contact the WWDA Office via email on: wwda@wwda.org.au or ph: 03 62448288.

As part of the ongoing Review process, WWDA will now be attending a consultation meeting in Hobart on February 26, the purpose of which will be for FaHCSIA to:

  • Provide information and an update on the NDAP change process;
  • Present information about the quality improvement strategy for NDAP funded advocacy agencies, including an introduction to the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) and third party certification;
  • Consult around key aspects of the NDAP change process including: advocacy definitions; goals and objectives for a revised NDAP; proposed Standards for advocacy; sample Performance Indicators.

If anyone would like more information about the NDAP and the changes, you can contact:
Lou-Anne Lind
Ph: 02 6244 6120
E: lou-anne.lind@facsia.gov.au

14. WWDA Resource Manual on Violence Against Women With Disabilities

a picture of the covers of the Violence Manual Booklets.

Covers of the Violence Manual Booklets

In late November 2007, Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) published a Resource Manual on Violence Against Women With Disabilities. This Manual is made up of four Books:

A Life Like Mine! – Narratives from women with disabilities who experience violence (52 pages, ISBN: 0 9775305 3 1)

Forgotten Sisters – A global review of violence against women with disabilities (112 pages, ISBN: 0 9775305 2 3)

It’s Not Ok It’s Violence – Information about domestic violence and women with disabilities (76 pages, ISBN: 0 9775305 1 5)

More Than Just A Ramp – A guide for women’s refuges to develop disability discrimination act action plans (92 pages, ISBN: 0 9775305 0 7)

Audio, e-text & Large Print PDF versions of the Booklets are included on a CD-ROM which accompanies the Manual. Braille and DAISY versions are also available on request.

Cost: $22.00 (within Australia)
Overseas orders: price range between $50.00 AUD – $70.00 AUD depending on postal Zone

To order contact WWDA.

15. Join WWDA

The success of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) relies heavily on the participation and goodwill of our members. We are always seeking women with disabilities who would like to represent WWDA at government consultations, workshops, forums and committees, as well as helping us in other ways such as commenting on WWDA documents and reports; presenting papers at Conferences; writing articles for our website, becoming members of our Management Committee and so on. WWDA is a Public Benevolent Institution, which means that donations over $2 are tax deductible.

Here are just some suggestions for how YOU can help Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA):

  • becoming a member;
  • giving a donation (donations over $2 are tax deductible);
  • representing WWDA on Committees, Advisory Boards and so on;
  • participating in consultations and government reviews;
  • writing articles;
  • sending us copies of relevant resources for our library;
  • letting us know about any relevant upcoming activities and/or events, and/or new books, videos, etc;
  • putting us on your newsletter mailing list;
  • using us as a hub for information;
  • using our website;
  • giving us feedback about our work;
  • donating equipment; raising funds for us.

Remember, becoming a financial member of WWDA entitles you to nominate for the Management Committee when vacancies arise and/or vote at annual elections.

WWDA’s Membership Form is available from the WWDA website www.wwda.org.au/member.htm or by contacting WWDA.