June 2003


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 June 2003. If you have any questions, or would like more information on anything in this report, please email Carolyn at: wwda@wwda.org.au


1. Submission to the Federal Government’s Welfare Reform Paper “Building a Simpler System to Help Jobless Families and Individuals”

In December 2002, Senator Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Family and Community Services and the Hon Tony Abbott MP, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations released the Commonwealth Government’s consultation paper, ‘Building a Simpler System to Help Jobless Families and Individuals’. The Paper is based on the McClure recommendations around a simpler income support system that is “more responsive to individual needs, circumstances and aspirations and that improves incentives to work” (Participation Support for a More Equitable Society, Final Report, July 2000). The Consultation Paper sets out some basic assumptions, objectives and design principles and asks 13 questions about the possible design of a new income support system for people of workforce age.

WWDA has developed a response to the Government’s consultation paper. The response from WWDA addresses a number of the structural and systemic barriers which prevent women with disabilities from enjoying full social, economic and political participation in their communities. The submission also incorporates a number of suggestions and responses in relation to the proposals outlined in the Consultation Paper “Building a Simpler System to Help Jobless Families and Individuals”.

The WWDA Submission is available on WWDA’s website (‘Submissions to Government’). Go to: www.wwda.org.au/welfare3.htm


2. Submission to Productivity Commission on the Review of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992

The Productivity Commission on the Review of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992 will examine the social impacts of the legislation on people with disabilities and on the community as a whole. Among other things, the Commission is required to assess the costs and benefits of the DDA and its effectiveness in achieving its objectives, which in summary are to:

  • eliminate as far as possible discrimination on the grounds of disability
  • ensure equality of people with disabilities before the law
  • promote recognition and acceptance of the rights of people with disabilities.

An Issues Paper was released on March 6 2003. A draft report is planned for October 2003. The Commission is required to report to the Government by 30 April 2004. The Issues Paper is available on the Productivity Commission’s website. Go to: www.pc.gov.au/inquiry/dda/issuespaper/index.html

WWDA has developed a submission to the Productivity Commission on the Review of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992. A copy of WWDA’s Submission is available on WWDA’s website (‘Submissions to Government’). Go to: www.wwda.org.au/ddasub.htm


3. WWDA Strategic Planning Forum

WWDA has received a small funding grant from the Tasmanian Government to conduct a National Strategic Planning Forum in late September 2003. The Forum will be held in Hobart. In the coming weeks, WWDA will be conducting a survey of its members to help inform the Strategic Planning Forum. In particular, we will be seeking input from members on priority areas of action for WWDA over the next few years. For example, in the past, WWDA has focused on areas such as:

  • violence against women with disabilities;
  • telecommunications and information technology;
  • leadership;
  • sterilisation and reproductive rights;

Whilst some of these areas may be ongoing, we need to find out from our members whether there are other issues which WWDA should focus on.


4. Australian Federation of Disability Organisations

In early 2001, the then Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Jocelyn Newman announced a new funding model for peak organisations funded through the Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services. The model included the establishment of an Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (the Federation). It was intended that the Federation would replace the National Caucus of Disability Consumer Organisations (NCDCO), whose funding will cease in 2001. The Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) gave the eight disability peaks it currently funds, the task of establishing the new Australian Federation of Disability Organisations. A Working Group (the Disability Federation Working Group) was set up in February 2001 to work toward establishing the Federation. The Working Group consisted of representatives from the eight-funded peak disability organisations, plus a representative from the Indigenous Disability Network.

The Working Group has recently finalized the Constitution for the Federation. The Mission of the Federation is to: promote the human rights of people with disability across Australia and promote their full participation in all aspects of Australian society. The Objectives are to:

  • Actively promote the participation of people with disability in all aspects of social, economic, political and cultural life.
  • Advocate on issues of concern for people with disability in Australia.
  • Seek to be the representative organisation for people with disability in Australia.
  • Support the right of member organisations to maintain their independence.
  • Undertake systemic advocacy.
  • Provide policy advice and undertake research.
  • Provide support, information and education.

The Federation is currently being registered as a Company with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). A Board of Directors has been established. The initial Board will be made up of representatives from the eight-funded peak disability organisations, plus a representative from the Indigenous Disability Network. WWDA’s representative on the Federation Board is Samantha Jenkinson from Victoria, who is also a member of WWDA’s Management Committee. The next stage of the Federation establishment will be the appointment of a CEO. WWDA will keep members informed of the progress of the Federation.


5. Update of WWDA Constitution

During 2001-02 WWDA undertook a review of its structure, governance and operational management processes. One of the outcomes of this review was the updating of the WWDA Constitution. WWDA was assisted in the task of updating the Constitution by the Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH) who organised pro-bono legal assistance for WWDA from a legal firm in Sydney (Blake, Dawson, Waldron). The new WWDA Constitution was ratified at WWDA’s Annual General Meeting in September 2002. A copy of the updated WWDA Constitution is available on WWDA’s website. Go to: http://www.wwda.org.au/const.htm


6. The “Going Further” Leadership Program

The Telstra Disability Services Unit recently offered WWDA the opportunity to nominate a woman with disability to participate in a Leadership Mentoring program to be run in Melbourne, July – December 2003. The Program, entitled “Going Further” is a leadership program exploring the relationship between economic, environmental and socio/cultural issues. It will explore the ways in which corporate, institutional and community attitudes to these issues may need to be adjusted to develop a sustainable, forward looking and cohesive society. Samantha Jenkinson from Victoria was nominated as WWDA’s representative to participate in the Program.


7. WWDA Representation

WWDA has a number of members who represent the organisation on various Committees, Working parties and so on. We are always looking for more members who would be interested in taking on representative opportunities. In the coming weeks, we will be conducting a small survey of our members to canvass those who would be interested in representative work.


8. Resignation of WWDA President

Recently, the President of WWDA, Helen Meekosha, resigned from the position due to ill health. Helen contributed an enormous amount to not only WWDA, but the broader disability community. A new WWDA President will be elected at the Annual General Meeting later in the year. In the interim, Annie Parkinson and Samantha Jenkinson are sharing the responsibilities of WWDA President. The current members of the WWDA Management Committee are:
Annie Parkinson (NSW)
Pamela Menere (Vic rural)
Samantha Jenkinson (VIC)
Joyce Deering (NT)
Sue Salthouse (ACT)
Margie Charlesworth (SA)
Lisa Murray (NSW)
Christine Tilley (QLD)


9. New on the WWDA Website

New and existing resource materials are regularly being added to the WWDA Website. Recent additions include:

1. Women and Disability – An Issue

A collection of writings addressing a wide range of issues affecting women with disabilities, including sexuality; health; housing, and many more. A number of poems are also included in this book. Go to: http://www.wwda.org.au/womdis.htm

2. Submission to the Federal Government’s Welfare Reform Paper “Building a Simpler System to Help Jobless Families and Individuals”.

Go to: http://www.wwda.org.au/welfare3.htm

3. Submission to Productivity Commission on the Review of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992.

Go to: http://www.wwda.org.au/ddasub.htm