October – November 2007


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 October and November 2007. If you have any questions, or would like more information on anything in this report, please email Carolyn or Angela at:wwda@wwda.org.au.


Contents

Hot Off the Press! WWDA Resource Manual on Violence Against Women With Disabilities

Final Report of the WWDA Violence Manual Project

WWDA Presentations to the National Domestic Violence, Disability & Cultural Safety Forum

WWDA Annual Report Available

WWDA Submission to the Department of Communications, Information Technology & the Arts ‘Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation (USO) Review’

WWDA Submission to the Department of Communications, Information Technology & the Arts ‘Regional Telecommunications Review’

WWDA Farewells Diana Palmer

National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) Review – Second Consultation

Join WWDA!


1. Hot Off the Press! 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

As many of you will know from previous WWDA Update Reports, Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), has been working for the last 18 months on a major project to develop accessible information resources on violence against women with disabilities. WWDA is pleased to announce that the WWDA Resource Manual on Violence Against Women With Disabilities has recently been published. The Manual is made up of four booklets:

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

This Booklet contains individual stories and poetry by women with disabilities who have experienced violence. The women who contributed these narratives did so in an effort to support other women with disabilities to break the cycle of violence in their lives. These intensely personal accounts are confronting, brutally honest, and deeply moving. But they also show great courage, resilience and strength – and offer hope for all women with disabilities who experience violence in their lives. These incredible narratives, accompanied by hauntingly powerful images, are an inspiration for all women and a tribute to those women who were prepared to share their stories.

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

This booklet is about violence against women with disabilities – a global epidemic of crisis proportions that is largely ignored in efforts to address violence against women. The booklet reviews what is known about the incidence and prevalence of violence against women and girls with disabilities. It examines the nature and many forms of violence against women with disabilities, along with the consequences of such violence. Violence as a cause of disability is discussed with particular attention given to disability caused by violence in institutions, and harmful traditional practices. The Booklet examines responses to violence against women with disabilities, including policy, legislative, research and service system responses. Key strategies to prevent violence against women with disabilities are also considered. Included in the Booklet is an Annotated Bibliography of known published and unpublished resources on violence against women with disabilities.

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

This Booklet provides information for women with disabilities about domestic violence. It explains, in simple terms, what it is, how it affects us, our rights, and where and how to get help. It provides information for relevant service providers on some of the barriers women with disabilities face in escaping domestic violence and looks at some easy ways that services can be more inclusive and responsive. Accompanying the text of the booklet are delightfully simple drawings that display powerful messages about domestic violence. Included at the end of the Booklet is a comprehensive Services Directory, providing contact details of crisis, domestic violence, and sexual assault services, at national, state, regional and local levels.

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)

This Booklet is a step by step guide for women’s refuges (and other similar services) to develop disability discrimination act action plans. An Action Plan identifies barriers which may result in discrimination against women with disabilities who need to use a service. The Action Plan recommends strategies to eliminate these barriers and devise ways for monitoring and evaluating the plan’s implementation. The Booklet provides detailed information on how to re-orient services to better meet the needs of women with disabilities experiencing, or at risk of experiencing violence. The Booklet contains case studies which highlight the types of discrimination experienced by women with disabilities when seeking refuge.

Audio, e-text & Large Print PDF versions of the Booklets are included on a CD-ROM which accompanies the Manual.

The cost of the Manual is $22 AUD which covers postage and handling costs within Australia. The cost of postage & handling for areas outside Australia can be obtained by contacting WWDA.

WWDA now welcomes orders of the Manual. Contact WWDA to place your order. Credit card facilities are available.

Promotional material and Order Forms are also available from the WWDA website at: www.wwda.org.au/vrm2007.htm


2. Final Report of the WWDA Violence Manual Project

The overall aim and long term goal of the WWDA Resource Manual on Violence Against Women With Disabilities Project is to prevent and reduce violence against women with disabilities. The major objectives of the Project were to:

  • improve access to information about violence for women with disabilities by developing and promoting accessible information resources;
  • educate women with disabilities about violence and its prevention.

Specifically, the Project sought to:

  • research, develop and produce a Resource Manual on Violence Against Women With Disabilities which reflects the identified information needs of women with disabilities.

The Project was made possible through a funding grant from the Domestic and Family Violence and Sexual Assault Funding Program (Office for Women, FaCSIA). WWDA has recently documented the process and outcomes of the project in its Final Project Report to the Office for Women (FaCSIA).

The Project Report ‘Development of a Resource Manual on Violence Against Women With Disabilities’ will soon be made available on WWDA’s website. If anyone would like a copy of the Report, please contact the WWDA Office via email on: wwda@wwda.org.au or ph: 03 62448288.


3. WWDA Presentations to the National Domestic Violence, Disability & Cultural Safety Forum

In early November, the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse hosted a national forum entitled ‘Diverse and Inclusive Practice: Redrawing the Boundaries – Domestic Violence, Disability and Cultural Safety’. The Forum came about in recognition of the fact that the needs of women with disabilities who experience abusive relationships are often unmet by service providers in both the family violence sector and the disability sector. The Forum also aimed to promote a broader understanding of human rights relating to safety and protection from domestic violence for women with disabilities.

WWDA was well represented at the Conference, with several members presenting papers. Annie Parkinson (WWDA President) gave an introductory speech entitled ‘Some Reflections on Activist Practice in Domestic Violence’; Leanne Dowse presented a paper entitled: ‘Forgotten Sisters: Recognising and Responding to Domestic Violence in the Lives of Women with Disabilities’; Sue Salthouse (Vice President) presented a paper ‘Completely Knocked Out: Australian perspectives on disability, disempowerment and domestic violence’. Margie Charlesworth also attended and showcased a range of domestic violence & disability policy and procedures from overseas. WWDA also used the opportunity of the Conference to promote the availability of WWDA’s Resource Manual on Violence Against Women With Disabilities.

Copies of the papers presented by WWDA members at the Conference will soon be made available on the WWDA website. If anyone would like a copy emailed to them, please contact the WWDA Office via email on: wwda@wwda.org.au or ph: 03 62448288.

In the coming months, WWDA will be continuing our systemic advocacy work on addressing violence against women with disabilities. We are particularly keen to look at specific systemic advocacy initiatives around improving access to women’s refuges and crisis services for women with disabilities.


4. WWDA Annual Report 2006-2007 Available

The 2006-2007 Annual Report of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) was released in October 2007. The Report provides a synopsis of WWDA’s performance over the past 12 months, under the categories: Advice to Australian Government on Policy and Service Delivery; Consultation, Representation and Networking; Community Information, Awareness Raising and Education; and Corporate Governance. These categories are consistent with the outcome requirements within WWDA’s funding contract with the Commonwealth Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA). The WWDA Annual Report highlights a number of significant outcomes over the 2006-2007 year. We have been particularly active and successful in our human rights systemic advocacy work – specifically around the issues of sterilisation of minors with an intellectual disability; violence against women with disabilities; improving the representation opportunities of disabled women; and in our ongoing work regarding the development and implementation of the United Nations treaty on the rights of people with disabilities. WWDA has also undertaken two major projects during the past year on issues of great concern to our constituents – violence against women with disabilities; and increasing representation and leadership opportunities for women with disabilities in Australia.

The WWDA Annual Report 2006-2007 is available from the WWDA website in both PDF and Word formats. Go to: www.wwda.org.au/wwdarepts.htm

If you do not have access to the Internet or email and you would like a hard copy mailed to you, please contact WWDA on ph: 03 62448288.


5. WWDA Submission to the Department of Communications, Information Technology & the Arts ‘Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation (USO) Review’

In mid 2007, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts announced a review of the Universal Service Obligation (USO), and released an Issues Paper for public comment. The stated purpose of the Universal Service Obligation (USO) is to enable all people in Australia wherever they reside or carry on business, to have reasonable access, on an equitable basis, to:

  • standard telephone services;
  • payphones; and
  • prescribed carriage services (none have been prescribed).

The USO provides for access to standard telephone services and payphones across Australia, including in unprofitable areas of rural and remote Australia.

The Minister made it clear that the Australian Government remains fully committed to all Australians having access to basic telecommunications services, and there would be no rolling back of the essential protections provided by the USO. The review was to take account of changes in technology and in the Australian telecommunications marketplace. The Review aimed to consider how the USO’s protections should operate in future, and how telecommunications providers can best share the load of delivering the USO.

Through its Telecommunications Working Group, WWDA developed a Submission to the Review, which closed on November 1 2007. WWDA’s Submission contains a number of specific recommendations, covering a range of issue areas, including:

  • legal mechanisms to ensure equitable access to communication services;
  • expanding the definition of basic phone services to include fixed line terrestrial services, broadband services, wireless and mobile services;
  • the need for the USO to deliver broadband speeds which are sufficient in each direction to enable VideoIP communication for the Deaf and hearing impaired;
  • expansion of Directory Assistance;
  • the need for an independent, upgraded Disability Equipment Programme;
  • and much more.

A copy of WWDA’s Submission to the Department of Communications, Information Technology & the Arts ‘Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation (USO) Review’ 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.


6. WWDA Submission to the Department of Communications, Information Technology & the Arts ‘Regional Telecommunications Review’

The Department of Telecommunications Information Technology & the Arts also announced a second Telecommunications Review during 2007. This Review arises as a result of 2005 amendments to the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999. This amendment established a special fund (the Communications Fund) and a committee (the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee – RTIRC). The latter body has a brief to review the adequacy of telecommunications services in regional, rural and remote parts of Australia. Under the Act, a review must now be taken every 3 years and the government of the day is obligated to respond to the recommendations of RTIRC within 6 months of its reporting. The current committee, headed by Dr Bill Glasson, is due to report in March 2008.

Thus this is an extremely important review, and whilst the USO Review will hopefully bring about changes which will have a profound affect on the way communications services are delivered throughout Australia, the RTIRC work is important for getting better services in the bush.

In its recommendations, WWDA reiterated many of its recommendations from the USO Review – the need for the obligation to be legislated to apply more widely, and for redefinitions of the Standard Telephone Service and the Customer Service Guarantee. Specifically WWDA also called for a reinstatement and upgrading of the Digital Data Service Obligation, a review of the affordability and availability of satellite phones in remote areas.

Of greatest importance of course is an urgent call for overall improvement of the coverage, quality and reliability of all networks – broadband, wireless, and mobile, as well as well as improved installation and repair times for fixed line and payphones. WWDA paid particular attention to the provision of adequate services in aboriginal communities. There is also a need for much improved information dissemination to women with disabilities in regional, rural and remote areas.

A copy of WWDA’s Submission to the Department of Communications, Information Technology & the Arts ‘Regional Telecommunications Review’ 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.


7. WWDA Farewells Diana Palmer

a picture of Diana Palmer.

Long time WWDA member Diana Palmer

It was with great sadness that WWDA received the news that one of our long-serving members, Diana Palmer, died peacefully on 29th October. Di was active in Disabled People’s International (Australia) prior to WWDA’s inauguration; she was a member of WWDA’s Management Committee for several years, and was founder and convenor of Women With Disabilities Australian Capital Territory (WWDACT) for many years. She was an inspiration to many, and a great advocate for women with disabilities.

A skilled, enthusiastic lobbyist and activist, Di was at the forefront of actions which have improved the lives of women in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Leading by example and with determination, Di worked tirelessly to break down barriers which impeded women with disabilities exercising their right to full citizenship. She was one of the first blind women to work in the Australian Public Service, the first single blind person to take up residence with her Guide Dog in a Commonwealth Government Hostel, the first single woman with disabilities in the ACT to be allocated a government house (which she went on to purchase from the government).

Diana’s life and work were acknowledged by the ACT Government with an award for International Women’s Day on March 8th, 2006. She will be missed by many in the community and beyond. Vale Diana.


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

The Australian Government, through the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA) 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 FaCSIA, 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 day long forum in Hobart on December 6, the purpose of which will be for FaCSIA 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
FaCSIA
Ph: 02 6244 6120
E: lou-anne.lind@facsia.gov.au


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.