September 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 September 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. Invitation from the French Government to Apply for the French Republic’s Human Rights Prize 2003

In early September, WWDA was formally invited by the French Government to apply for the French Republic’s Human Rights Prize for 2003. The French Republic’s Human Rights Prize, endowed by the Prime Minister of the French Government, is awarded by the Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l’Homme (National Advisory Commission on Human Rights). The prize distinguishes field work and projects connected with the practical defence and furtherance of human rights, in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This is indeed a great honour for WWDA. WWDA is one of only two Australian entries for this most prestigious Award, and the only Australian entry invited to apply around the theme of ‘Discrimination Against Women’ (The prize is usually associated with one or two themes concerning the defence and furtherance of human rights. This year the themes relate to ‘Discrimination Against Women’ and ‘Refugees and Detainees’).

The winner is announced in December 2003. The Award is presented by the Prime Minister of the French Government in Paris on December 10, 2003 – International Human Rights Day.


2. Submission to the Board of Taxation Consultation on the Definition of a Charity

In early 2000, the Australian Government launched the Public Inquiry into the Definition of Charities and Related Organisations. Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) made a submission to that Inquiry (a copy is available on WWDA’s website).

The Australian Government is now consulting upon the Exposure Draft of the Charities Bill 2003 that was developed after the Inquiry made its findings. Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) is a not-for-profit organisation that would be directly affected by this Bill, if it were passed into law.

WWDA has recently developed a submission to the Exposure Draft of the Charities Bill 2003. WWDA’s Submission explains the probable ramifications this enactment would have for Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) as well as many significantly similar organisations. The Submission approaches these likely impacts by recommending that the Bill’s provisions be preserved or replaced with practicable alternatives. These alternative provisions are clearly delineated in the recommendations.

WWDA’s submission will soon be made available on WWDA’s website. If anyone would like a copy of the submission, please email WWDA at: wwda@wwda.org.au


3. Submission to the Tasmanian Government’s Options Paper ‘Safe at Home: A Criminal Justice Framework for Responding to Family Violence in Tasmania’.

The ‘Safe at Home’ Options Paper has been developed by the Tasmanian Department of Justice and Industrial Relations (DJIR) in response to the announcement by the Tasmanian Attorney-General, in September 2002, of the establishment of separate Family Violence restraint order legislation to be introduced into Parliament in 2003. In January 2003, the Attorney-General further requested that DJIR develop an implementation strategy for a pro-arrest, pro-charge, pro-prosecution response to family violence in Tasmania. The policy outcomes that the Attorney-General wishes to achieve through this reform process are the increased criminalisation of family violence and enhanced criminal justice system responses.

WWDA developed a submission in response to the ‘Safe at Home’ Options Paper. WWDA’s submission focused on addressing two main areas: the ‘Definition of Relationship’; and the ‘Definition of Violence’. WWDA believes that these two areas set the scope of the legislation and are therefore of significant importance to women with disabilities.

WWDA is concerned that, in suggesting a definition of ‘family’ the Paper proposes that the definition cover spousal relationships, intimate personal relationships, family relationships, but only informal care relationships. WWDA believes that, by restricting the definition to encompass informal care relationships only, many women with disabilities will not be covered by the definition. WWDA’s submission therefore recommends (amongst other things) that the proposed definition of ‘family’ be expanded to encompass the range of domestic/family settings in which women with disabilities live.

A copy of WWDA’s Submission to the Tasmanian Government’s Options Paper ‘Safe at Home: A Criminal Justice Framework for Responding to Family Violence in Tasmania’ is available on WWDA’s website (‘Submissions to Government’). Go to: http://www.wwda.org.au/tasviol.htm


4. Submission to the Legislation Committee for Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts on the “Telstra (Transition to Full Private Ownership) Bill 2003”

The Telstra (Transition to Full Private Ownership) Bill 2003 (the Bill) proposes to amend the Telstra Corporation Act 1991 to provide a framework for the sale of the Government’s 50.1 per cent equity in Telstra Corporation Limited, leading to full private ownership. The Bill gives the Commonwealth the flexibility to use a wide range of approaches to conduct the sell down of Telstra either through a single tranche, several tranches or other approaches such as placements. The Senate has referred the provisions of this bill to the Committee for inquiry and report by 30 October 2003.

WWDA recently developed a submission to Legislation Committee for Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts on the “Telstra (Transition to Full Private Ownership) Bill 2003”. Research and consultations undertaken by WWDA in relation to information and communication technology, indicate that, at this time, the members of WWDA would prefer to see Telstra remain in majority Commonwealth control. WWDA’s submission outlines the rationale for this position, and demonstrates that, in relation to information and communication technology, vast inequities still exist for women with disabilities in Australia.

A copy of WWDA’s Submission to the Legislation Committee for Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts on the “Telstra (Transition to Full Private Ownership) Bill 2003” is available on WWDA’s website (‘Submissions to Government’). Go to: http://www.wwda.org.au/telstra.htm


5. Submission to the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) Payphones Review

The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) is conducting a public review of payphone policy to ensure that the provision of payphones under the universal service obligation (USO) continues to be effective and relevant. The review forms part of the government’s response to the 2002 report of the Regional Telecommunications Inquiry. However, the review will be examining general payphone policy relating to both metropolitan and regional areas.

WWDA is currently developing a Submission to this Review. WWDA’s submission will soon be made available on WWDA’s website. If anyone would like a copy of the submission, please email WWDA at: wwda@wwda.org.au


6. WWDA Annual General Meeting

WWDA’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on September 11, in Hobart as a precursor to WWDA’s National Strategic Planning Forum. The General Business of the AGM was conducted, and included a number of reports from the work of WWDA’s representatives on various Committees and Advisory bodies. The members of the WWDA Management Committee for the 2003-04 year are:

Samantha Jenkinson (President)
Annie Parkinson (Vice-President)
Jenny Bridge-Wright (Treasurer)
Margie Charlesworth (Secretary)
Pamela Menere
Sam Salvaneschi
Joyce Deering
Sue Salthouse
Lisa Murray


7. WWDA National Strategic Planning Forum

A lot of WWDA’s work in September revolved around conducting the WWDA National Strategic Planning Forum, which took place on September 11th – 14th in Hobart. The Forum was partly funded by the Tasmanian Community Support Levy Grants Program. Ms Leanne Dowse facilitated the Forum, which was hugely successful. Much enthusiasm was shown and great ideas generated. The Strategic Plan for the next 5 years is currently being written up and will be available to members later in the year.


8. Global Fund for Women

Earlier this year, WWDA applied for project funding from the Global Fund for Women, an organisation based in the USA which has been very supportive of WWDA’s work. WWDA has recently been notified by the Global Fund for Women that our funding submission was successful, and the Global Fund for Women has agreed to provide a small amount of project funding to WWDA for the next three years. The funds will be utilised for capacity building initiatives.


9. New on the WWDA Website

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

9.1. “Walk In Our Shoes” – Four Corners (ABC TV) explores the issue of sterilisation of people with disabilities.
On Monday 16 June, 2003 Four Corners (ABC TV) broadcast a program entitled “Walk in Our Shoes”. The Program explored the issue of whether, and in what circumstances, disabled women (and men) should be sterilised. The transcript of the Program, along with transcripts of interviews conducted for the program have been reproduced on WWDA’s website, with permission of Four Corners (ABC TV). Go to: http://www.wwda.org.au/4corners.htm

9.2. WWDA’s Submission to the Tasmanian Government’s Options Paper ‘Safe at Home: A Criminal Justice Framework for Responding to Family Violence in Tasmania’. Go to: http://www.wwda.org.au/tasviol.htm

9.3. WWDA’s Submission to the Legislation Committee for Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts on the “Telstra (Transition to Full Private Ownership) Bill 2003”. Go to: http://www.wwda.org.au/telstra.htm

9.4. WWDA’s Submission to the Standing Committee on Employment and Workplace Relations Inquiry into Increasing Participation in Paid Employment. Go to: http://www.wwda.org.au/employsub.htm