November 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 November 2004. If you have any questions, or would like more information on anything in this report, please email Carolyn at:

1. WWDA Telecommunications Research Report Released

‘Consumer Issues In Telecommunications’ is a result of a twelve month research study undertaken by WWDA’s Telecommunications Working Group as part of the Telecommunications Consumer Representation Grant. This research was undertaken in areas where WWDA constituents had voiced concerns about aspects of telecommunications. It covers a range of issue areas, including:

  • an investigation of commercially available phones which would be suitable for use by older people and people with some disabilities;
  • market potential for a Universal Design mobile phone suitable for use by older people and people with some disabilities;
  • availability of information about the Telstra Disability Equipment Program (DEP) from Telstra Shopfronts;
  • availability of information on how to obtain equipment from the DEP when the customer’s primary carrier is not Telstra; and
  • ability of women with disabilities on low income to gain access to the Internet.

The Report identifies a number of areas where WWDA believes further work is needed to address the inequities people with disabilities face in relation to telecommunications products and services.

A copy of the Report has been disseminated widely, including to all telecommunications industry bodies, relevant politicians and other key stakeholders.

If anyone would like a copy of WWDA’s Research Report ‘Consumer Issues In Telecommunications’ emailed to them, please contact the WWDA Office via email on:

Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) has also completed its final grant Report for the Telecommunications Consumer Representation Grant it received from the Commonwealth Department of Communications, Information Technology & the Arts. The Report provides detailed information on the activities undertaken by WWDA for the grant period. It demonstrates WWDA’s ability to achieve a number of significant outcomes with a small amount of resources. It further demonstrates the unique capacity of WWDA to fulfill the role of providing effective consumer advocacy to address the telecommunications needs of women with disabilities and sound policy advice and quality information for and about women with disabilities in relation to telecommunications.

If anyone would like a copy of WWDA’s Report ‘Telecommunications Consumer Representation Grant – Final Report’ emailed to them, please contact the WWDA Office via email on:

2. Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) Annual Report 2003-04

WWDA’s Annual Report for 2003-04 was released in early November 2004. The Annual Report details a number of significant outcomes achieved by the organization during the past year. The outcomes achieved serve to demonstrate the unique capacity of WWDA to fulfill the role of providing effective consumer advocacy to address the needs of women with disabilities and sound policy advice and quality information for and about women with disabilities. WWDA’s Annual Report also demonstrates WWDA’s strong links to its membership base, along with the strategic partnerships the organization has formed with other stakeholders.

WWDA’s Annual Report 2003-04 has been distributed widely to all members and key stakeholders.

If anyone would like a copy of WWDA’s Annual Report 2003-04 emailed to them, please contact the WWDA Office via email on:

The Annual Report 2003-04 is also available on WWDA’s Website.

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3. International Day of People With Disability Special Event – Video Conferencing Project

Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) in conjunction with People With Disability Australia (PWDA) have been invited to participate in an international video conferencing project, being conducted by ConnecTV (USA). ConnecTV is the only broadcast TV production program for people with disabilities in the United States and has undertaken this international video conferencing project to enable people with disabilities from around the world to share their knowledge, experience and ideas. The video conferences will be taped and incorporated into a TV documentary. By incorporating the collective intelligence of people with disabilities into a publicly broadcast TV show, ConnecTV hopes to educate the public about the talents and achievements of people with disabilities from around the world, thereby making society more inclusive for people with disabilities.

Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) and People With Disability Australia (PWDA) will be hosting a real time link up with ConnecTV on DECEMBER 3rd at 10am. The session, for women with disabilities, will be relaxed and informal, and will involve discussion around topics of interest, with a particular focus on Sexuality and disability.

If this is successful we will continue to work with ConnectTV to provide other opportunities for discussion for people with disability. WWDA will report back to members on the outcomes of this Project.

More information about ConnecTV can be found at their website. Go to:

4. WWDA Office Bearers 2004-05 Elected

At its first meeting following the Annual General Meeting, the WWDA Management Committee Office Bearers were elected. A brief introduction is provided here:

Annie Parkinson – WWDA President
Annie Parkinson, a long-standing member of WWDA has over 30 years experience in activism in the women’s movement, and the gay and lesbian rights movement. She was involved in the development of the ground-breaking publication ‘I Always Wanted to be a Tapdancer’, a book of stories of women with disabilities published in the late eighties. She has worked as a research assistant in the disability field, and in the 1990’s, co-founded an organisation called Access Plus, a group that addressed issues which particularly affected queers with disabilities. She has been actively involved in the establishment and management of several organisations, and has been a member of a number of management committees, including People With Disabilities Australia (PWD).

Samantha Jenkinson – WWDA Vice-President
Samantha (WWDA President 2003-04) has been involved in advocating and promoting her rights and the rights of other people with disabilities since the early 1990’s when she became involved with student politics at university. She was one of the participants at the first Pathways conference (bringing together tertiary students with disabilities from across Australia) and has continued to work with and for people with disabilities in her professional capacity as a Social Worker. Throughout her career, Samantha has been involved as a volunteer with many community organisations. She has been an organiser for working groups around the International Day of People with a disAbility; organised a Gala Dinner for women with disabilities; made presentations to conferences on empowerment and disability, health and disability, and violence and disability; and given talks on disability awareness to employer groups, students, and nurses. Samantha resides in Melbourne with her husband and two young children.

Margie Charlesworth – WWDA Secretary
Margie has a keen interest in issues of mental health. As a woman with a physical disability, she is aware that many of us are exposed to other issues such as depression and other mental illnesses which are often a direct result of our disabilities. Margie has been a volunteer systemic advocate since 1996. She strongly advocates that people with disabilities, especially women, have a vital role to play in society and as such should be treated with respect and equality. Margie is currently studying a bachelor of Social Science, at Adelaide University.

Pamela Menere – WWDA Treasurer
Pamela has been involved with WWDA for many years, and has held the positions of Secretary and Treasurer of the WWDA Management Committee. Pamela is actively involved with several advocacy and disability related groups, and has a particular interest in advocating for women with disabilities living in rural and remote areas. When time allows Pamela enjoys reading, listening to music, going to the theatre, and spending time with her grandchildren.

5. WWDA Report on the Disabled People’s International (DPI) World Summit in Winnipeg, Canada, September 8-10, 2004

Earlier this year, Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) was invited to present a paper at the Disabled People’s International (DPI) World Summit on the issue of sterilization of women and girls with disabilities in Australia. This invitation came about as a direct result of WWDA’s work in the area, which had received international recognition.

The Disabled People’s International (DPI) World Summit was held in Winnipeg, Canada in early September, and was attended by over 1000 delegates from around the world. WWDA was assisted by the Global Fund for Women (USA) which kindly provided a travel grant to enable two WWDA delegates to attend and participate in the Summit.

WWDA has recently completed its Final Report to the Global Fund for Women, which provides a detailed account of WWDA’s attendance and participation in the DPI World Summit, including a number of significant outcomes which were achieved by WWDA’s involvement For example, as a result of WWDA’s paper presentation, a resolution was put to the closing plenary which called for DPI to call on governments all over the world to ban the sterilisation of disabled women and girls.

If anyone would like a copy of WWDA’s Final Report to the Global Fund for Women emailed to them, please contact the WWDA Office via email on:

A copy of the paper WWDA presented at the DPI Summit entitled ‘Moving Forward or Losing Ground? The Sterilisation of Women and Girls with Disabilities in Australia’ is available on WWDA’s website. Go to:

6. Office of the UN Special Rapporteur on Disability – Global Survey on Government Action on the Implementation of the Standard Rules

Among the major outcomes of the Decade of Disabled Persons was the adoption, by the UN General Assembly, of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities in 1993. Although not a legally binding instrument, the Standard Rules represent a strong moral and political commitment of Governments to take action to attain equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities. The rules serve as an instrument for policy-making and as a basis for technical and economic cooperation.

The purpose of the Rules is to ensure that girls, boys, women and men with disabilities, as members of their societies, may exercise the same rights and obligations as others. In all societies of the world there are still obstacles preventing persons with disabilities from exercising their rights and freedoms and making it difficult for them to participate fully in the activities of their societies. It is the responsibility of States to take appropriate action to remove such obstacles. Persons with disabilities and their organizations should play an active role as partners in this process. Special attention may need to be directed towards groups such as women, children, the elderly, the poor, migrant workers, persons with dual or multiple disabilities, indigenous people and ethnic minorities. In addition, there are a large number of refugees with disabilities who have special needs requiring attention.

WWDA has recently received an invitation from the UN Special Rapporteur on Disability to participate in the Global Survey on Government Action on the Implementation of the Standard Rules. The aim of this Survey is to shed light on the progress that countries have made in the adoption and implementation of the Standard Rules and to find out what form that implementation has taken and to what extent. The Survey will assist the UN in assessing how far countries have come in their implementation at the levels of:

  • Policies
  • Legislation
  • Programmes
  • Resources allocated
  • Involvement of organizations of people with disabilities

WWDA will be aiming to work collaboratively with other peak disability organizations in the formulation of a national response to the Global Survey on Government Action on the Implementation of the Standard Rules. We will keep members informed of the progress of this important work.

7. News from Other Organisations

7.1. ACROD Second National Ageing and Disability Conference

ACROD, the National Industry Association for Disability Services has announced that the Second National Ageing & Disability Conference will take place in Hobart, Tasmania from Monday 18 July – Wednesday 20 July 2005. The aims of the Conference are:

  • To consolidate the networks established through the inaugural conference Ageing and Disability Conference, August 2004 in Hobart;
  • To add further impetus to achieving a policy framework that support adequate and appropriate services for people ageing with disability;
  • To enable people with disabilities, their carers and supporters to influence public policy and professional practice.

For more information, you can contact:
Marie Kennedy
ACROD Tasmanian Division
Ageing and Disability Project Officer
Ph 03 6223 6086

7.2. DVIRC Research Project Seeking Participants

The Domestic Violence and Incest Resource Centre (DVIRC) is undertaking a research project on women’s experiences of mediation following the experience of family violence (including child abuse). DVIRC would like to talk with women who have participated in mediation within the Family Court system and/or through other organisations such as counselling and mediation services.

If you, or women you work with, have experienced mediation and/or dispute resolution for family disputes (including post-separation parenting arrangements) DVIRC would like to hear from you.

To participate in this project contact:
Allie Bailey
Domestic Violence and Incest Resource Centre (DVIRC)
Ph: (03) 9486-9866

7.3. NOVA Public Policy – Project to improve continence care

A large number of people in Australia are affected by incontinence. Although evidence suggests that 60 to 70% of people with incontinence could be cured or have their level of incontinence difficulty reduced through clinical and health management, less than 50% of affected people seek diagnosis or clinical advice.

NOVA Public Policy is now undertaking a project for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia to explore the role that pharmacy can play in helping consumers and carers who are affected by incontinence. The project is to be conducted in close consultation with representatives of everyone involved in continence care.

If you would like more information, or if you would like to contribute to the Project, please contact the Project Consultants directly. The contact information is:
Kate Moore
Consumer Consultant
Ph: 02 6288 2672
Mob: 0409 801 954

8. New on the WWDA Website

Additions to the WWDA website this month have also included archival material. WWDA will continue to add new resources and archival material to our website in the coming months.

‘Unjustified Hardship – homelessness and women with disabilities’ (WWDA 2004)
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‘Double the Odds’ – Domestic Violence and Women with Disabilities’ By Sue Salthouse and Carolyn Frohmader (September 2004)
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‘Waiting to be Included – Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening, Where are the Women with Disabilities?’ By Jenny Bridge-Wright (July 2004)
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Women with Disabilities Australia Annual Report 2003-2004
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Women with Disabilities Australia Annual Report 1999-2000
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Women with Disabilities Australia Annual Report 1998 – 1999
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WWDA Update Bulletin August 2004
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WWDA Update Bulletin September/October 2004
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