Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) Update Report August/September 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. It is the only organisation of its kind in Australia and one of only a very small number internationally. WWDA is inclusive and does not discriminate against any disability. WWDA is unique, in that it operates as a national disability organisation; a national women’s organisation; and a national human rights organisation (more information about WWDA can be found at the organisation’s extensive website: www.wwda.org.au). Please find below a brief Update Report from WWDA for the months of August and September 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

Return to the Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) Newsletters Page


WWDA Submission to the National Disability Advocacy Program

WWDA Report to the National Disability Secretariat Program

Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse National Forum

Disability Supported Accommodation Program – National Consultations

WWDA Violence Resource Manual – Update

New Journal Article: Sterilisation of people with intellectual disabilities

WWDA Online Information and Referral Directory Update

Australia’s Common Core Human Rights Document

National Disability Services & Families Australia National Conference

New Report: Women and WorkChoices

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Civil Society Survey

WWDA Telecommunication Working Group News

Report: Experiences of People with Disabilities in Domestic Airline Travel in Australia

Research Study – Parents of Young Adults with Intellectual Impairment

New Report: Supporting the housing of people with complex needs

Discussion Paper: The Overlooked Consumers

Ensuring access to electronic media for the hearing impaired

A Poem By Cherie

WWDA Management Committee Members 2007 – 2008

Join WWDA!

1. WWDA Submission to the National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) Consultation Paper ‘Working Towards a Common Understanding of Advocacy’

The Australian Government has funded disability advocacy services for over 20 years and during this time a range of advocacy service models have been developed. Opinions around the definition of advocacy, the characteristics of the different advocacy models and the intended outcomes of advocacy vary greatly, both within Australia and internationally. 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 is 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. The Australian Government is consulting with the disability sector on these changes. FaCSIA recently released its first Consultation Paper entitled ‘Working Towards a Common Understanding of Advocacy’. The purpose of the Consultation Paper is to facilitate discussion and generate thinking to assist FaCSIA and the disability advocacy sector to begin developing some common understandings around advocacy.

WWDA recently provided FaCSIA with a submission in response to the Consultation Paper ‘Working Towards a Common Understanding of Advocacy’. WWDA’s submission articulates WWDA’s view that the current review of the NDAP poses a good opportunity to re-think the way that disability advocacy is conceptualised. WWDA believes that the NDAP, its goal/s, objectives and desired outcomes, should be conceptualised in a human rights approach and framework. WWDA considers such an approach and framework vital in the context of the recent adoption by the United Nations General Assembly, of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

It is WWDA’s view that adopting a human rights framework for the NDAP positions the program as a mechanism to assist in bringing about structural and cultural shifts so that people with disabilities can take their places in the broad landscape of social life endowed with the same possibilities and supported by the same rights as their non-disabled contemporaries.

A copy of WWDA’s Submission to the Consultation Paper ‘Working Towards a Common Understanding of Advocacy’ 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.

2. WWDA Report to the National Disability Secretariat Program, Commonwealth Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA)

Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) receives operational funding each year from the Commonwealth Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA) under the National Secretariat Program (NSP). The objective of the NSP is to: ‘contribute to Government policies affecting Australian families and communities, carry information between the Government and the community on social policy issues, and represent constituent’s views.’

WWDA’s contract with FaCSIA contains a number of required deliverables under specified objectives. As part of the Contract requirements, WWDA is required to produce an end of year report to FaCSIA which reports against these objectives.

WWDA provides a range of other services and conducts other activities that contribute to meeting WWDA’s overall mission. The funding agreement with FaCSIA relates only to those outcomes and areas of activity related to the operational funding provided through the National Disability Secretariat Program.

WWDA has recently completed its end of financial year Outcomes Report to FaCSIA. The report focuses on addressing the outcomes as detailed in WWDA’s funding contract with FaCSIA for the period 2006-07.

If anyone would like a copy of WWDA’s Final Project Report to the National Secretariat Program, please contact the WWDA Office via email on: wwda@wwda.org.au or ph: 03 62448288.

3. Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse National Forum

The Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse is holding a national forum Diverse and Inclusive Practice: Redrawing the Boundaries – Domestic Violence, Disability and Cultural Safety. This is national forum for disability sector and family violence service providers, researchers and policy makers interested in examining community diversity and cultural safety from a perspective which includes the voices of women with disabilities who have lived in abusive relationships. The Forum will include discussion on human rights and the obligations of Government under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) will be presenting papers at this Forum. The Forum will be held November 8th – 9th, 2007, at Novotel Brighton Beach, Brighton-Le-Sands, NSW.

Registration forms and the Forum program is available from the Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse. Contact:

Karen Wilcox or Gaby Marcus
Ph: 02 9385 3843 or 02 9385 2991
Email: clearinghouse@unsw.edu.au
Web: www.austdvclearinghouse.unsw.edu.au

4. Disability Supported Accommodation Program – National Consultations

The Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA) is undertaking national consultations on the Disability Supported Accommodation Program. On 28 June 2007, the Prime Minister announced an extra $962 million to help older carers and their families. As part of this package, the Australian Government is providing 1750 new supported accommodation places for people with severe and profound disabilities aged 40 years and over who are currently cared for by a parent or other close family member who is 65 years or over.

FaCSIA has released a Discussion Paper entitled ‘Disability Supported Accommodation: A Discussion Paper’ that will be used as a basis for consultation. The discussion paper is available on the FaCSIA website at: www.facsia.gov.au/internet/facsinternet.nsf/disabilities/supported_accommodation.htm

FaCSIA is seeking written submissions that provide input into the design and development of the Disability Supported Assistance Program. The closing date for submissions is 26 October 2007. Written submissions can be provided by email or post:

Disability Supported Accommodation,
PO Box 7442,
Email: disabilityaccommodation@nationalmailing.com.au

For more information:
Ph: 1800 045 394 or 02 6244 1405
TTY: 1800 260 402

5. WWDA Violence Resource Manual – Update

Previous Update Reports from WWDA have reported on WWDA’s national project to produce a Resource Manual on Violence Against Women With Disabilities. The Manual is made up of a series of four Booklets, the contents of which are also being provided on an accompanying CD Rom in audio format. WWDA completed the four Booklets to final draft stage prior to December 2006, however since that time has been working with the Office for Women (Commonwealth Department of Family, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) on finalising one of the Booklets (Forgotten Sisters – a global review of violence against women with disabilities).

The WWDA Resource Manual on Violence Against Women With Disabilities has now received final approval from the Office for Women. The Manual is now in the process of being printed and produced in alternative formats.

a picture of the covers of the Violence Manual Booklets.

Covers of the Violence Manual Booklets

WWDA has already received a large number of pre-orders for the Manual. If you would like to register your interest in receiving an Order Form for the Manual, please contact Angela at the WWDA Office via phone (03 6244 8288) or email wwda@wwda.org.au.

6. New Journal Article: The sterilisation of people with intellectual disabilities in England and Wales during the period 1988 to 1999

In England and Wales, if a person is thought to lack capacity to make a decision to undergo a sterilization operation, a specific process occurs. A Judge in the High Court receives evidence from relevant parties including psychiatric and gynaecological experts and subsequently decides on the lawfulness of the sterilization operation. The authors of this article investigated who was referred and by whom, the reasons given and the outcomes of the legal process during an 11 year period.

The article reports on a retrospective case note study which was undertaken of all referrals to the Official Solicitors Office (England & Wales) for sterilisation between 1988 and 1999. Using an established protocol, information was obtained from legal and clinical notes relating to the initial referral to the Official Solicitor, the opinions of experts, the court proceedings and the outcome.

Seventy three people, only three of whom were men, were referred over the 11 years. They were aged between 12 and 41 years. All but one had an intellectual disability. Twenty seven of those referred were minors. Seventy-five per cent of referrals were made by a parent of the person for whom sterilisation was sought, predominantly the mother. The main reason given by the referrers for seeking sterilization was the perceived risk of pregnancy. For ten of the women, sterilisation was part of a specific request for surgery because of menstruation difficulties such as heavy blood loss. Full applications were made for 50 of the 73, with 39 proceeding to a Court hearing. For 31 of the 39 cases, the Court ruled that sterilisation would be in the persons ‘best interests’. An additional six women probably had operations resulting in sterilisation without court authorization.

The authors hypothesise that the request for sterilisation may be driven by a combination of a fear of the risks associated with the person’s transition to adulthood, parental contraceptive attitudes, the requirement for a permanent solution to potential pregnancy and concern about who would care for any grandchild.

Source: Stansfield, A., Holland, A., & Clare, C. (2007, August). The sterilisation of people with intellectual disabilities in England and Wales during the period 1988 to 1999. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, Vol.51, Part 8, pp. 569-579.

7. WWDA Online Information and Referral Directory Update

Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) is currently updating its Online Information and Referral Directory. The Directory was produced by WWDA in 2005 to help women with disabilities find information about services and organisations that are available to assist them. The information is organised into various groups and sub-groups to enable easy access. It is also searchable using the SEARCH facility on WWDA’s homepage (www.wwda.org.au).

You can assist WWDA in this task by letting us know of any new services/programs etc that may be useful for women with disabilities, or by checking the contact details of your organisation/group and letting us know if there are any changes. The WWDA Online Information and Referral Directory can be found on WWDA’s website at: www.wwda.org.au/portmain.htm

8. Australia’s Common Core Human Rights Document

Australia has prepared its Common Core Document as part of its reporting obligations under international human rights instruments. The Common Core document incorporates Australia’s Fifth Report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Fourth Report under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The Common Core document was submitted to the United Nations on 25 July 2007.

The Report is available electronically at www.ag.gov.au/humanrights

The National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC), along with a coalition of non-government organisations (NGOs), is producing a Shadow Report to provide the UN Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights with a picture of the state of human rights in Australia. WWDA has contributed to the Shadow Report.

9. National Disability Services & Families Australia National Conference

This inaugural conference ‘Every Child Matters: Children & Young People With Disability & Their Families’ is being held 14 – 15 May 2008 in Melbourne, Victoria. The Conference will identify issues, share solutions and celebrate successes. Additionally, discussion will focus on enabling services to better respond to children’s and families’ needs across the themes: Family Wellbeing; One Community; Our Voice – listen, strengthen, share; and, Policy, Practices and Priorities. The conference program will interest: disability service providers; parents and family members of children and young people with disability; children, youth and siblings groups; early childhood practitioners; Indigenous disability networks; culturally and linguistically diverse networks; advocacy and peer support groups; educators; therapists; child care agencies; governments and researchers.

The deadline for submission of abstracts is 26 October 2007. For more information contact:
Margaret Verick, Committee Coordinator
NDS National Committee on Children, Young People and Their Families
Ph: 02 6283 3214
Email: margaret.verick@nds.org.au

10. New Report: Women and WorkChoices

The authors of this report were commissioned to conduct a deep qualitative study of a set of experiences amongst workers in low pay sectors, particularly childcare, aged care, cleaning, retail, clerical and hospitality, across five States and the Australian Capital Territory. This report outlines findings arising from 121 women low paid interviewees. The focus of the study is not so much on the legislative provisions themselves, but on qualitative analysis of how WorkChoices has been operationalised by employers and experienced by the 121c women, in their individual workplaces, households and communities. Some of these experiences reflect managerial misunderstanding or ignorance about industrial law. However, the workers interviewed through this study traced their altered circumstances to the changed environment and weakened protective net established by WorkChoices.

The Report of the study is available in full (3.3MB) or in a Summary version (2.7MB) and can be downloaded from: www.unisa.edu.au/hawkeinstitute/cwl/publications.asp.

11. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Civil Society Survey

In August, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) undertook an international Civil Society Survey with a view to strengthening and improving the quality of the relationship between OHCHR and persons with disabilities and their representative organisations. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), set up in 1993 following the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, is the United Nations office with primary responsibility for promoting and protecting the enjoyment and full realization of human rights for all. The Civil Society Survey was prepared in the context of the recent adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol. The Convention upholds participation as both a principle and a stand alone right. Moreover, States Parties to the new Convention have an obligation to consult with and actively involve persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in decision-making processes concerning issues relating to persons with disabilities. It is in this spirit that the OHCHR undertook the Survey as a first step in strengthening the participation of persons with disabilities in the UN human rights system.

WWDA contributed a written response to the OHCHR Survey and is looking forward to forging closer links with the OHCHR.

More information on the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and its relationship to non-government organisations can be found in the OHCHR publication “Working with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: A Handbook for NGO’s”. This publication is available in both Word and PDF formats from the WWDA website. Go to: www.wwda.org.au/unhrt.htm. You will find the book listed under the category ‘Resource Materials/Publications’ (Human Rights – General).

12. WWDA Telecommunication Working Group News

12.1. First Communications Consumer Congress held

The Communications Alliance (CA) and the Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) has their first joint Consumer Congress on 22 August in Sydney. This date preceded a quarterly meeting of the Disability Council (DC) so that all DC members were able to participate. DC Chair, Christopher Newell, took part in a panel discussing the role of future technologies in improving accessibility to communications. The Congress was chaired by Jenny Brockie of SBS.

Keynote Speaker, Louise Sylvan (Deputy Chair of the Australian Competition & Consumer Council) drew on her extensive background in consumer rights as a former head of ‘Choice’ Magazine, to talk about empowering and protecting consumers in communications markets. Anomalies of consumer behaviour mean that competition in the marketplace does not operate in a perfect way; so that the most efficient and competitive services are not always selected. The term ‘confusopoly’ was used to describe the plethora of choice which confronts consumers in choosing communications products. In this sphere, consumers end up by choosing a product at random. We can all relate to this outcome in many areas where consumers are making choices about purchases.

Websites such as www.phonechoice.com.au to compare phones, www.whirlpool.net.au (use this site with caution) to compare Broadband offers are useful. The need for brokers to work in the communications field, similar to their role in the Insurance world was also discussed.

The other panels during the day expanded on the theme set, with insights into blogging, Instant Messaging, virtual communities & communications, ‘freeing’ the internet from commercial Service Providers, and much more.

Consumers attending were outnumbered by industry and government representatives, with most of the consumers being telecommunications representatives of some persuasion. The forum presented a unique opportunity for all involved in the communications sector to share ideas, and look at the consumer perspective. It is to be hoped that the CA-ACMA team can make such gatherings a regular event.

12.2. CommsAlliance Disabiility Council Quarterly Meeting

The Disability Council (DC) of the Communications Alliance met in August. This was the first meeting for the financial year. WWDA has had its representation confirmed by the Department of Communications, IT & the Arts (DCITA) for another year and continues to hold the position of Deputy Chair on the DC.

The Communications Alliance continues to work on incorporating new technologies into the self regulatory regime it oversees. In particular Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony is becoming an increasingly important part of the communications market, with service providers now numbering close to 300. The Disability Council continues to negotiate for services which are able to carry Voice, Text and Video over IP simultaneously. This needs adequate broadband services, with consistent quality and speed of service. Such services will enable people who are Deaf to communicate independently and in ‘real time’ using the video function for signing. It is essential for people who are communication aid users to be able to text someone and receive a ‘real time’ voice reply. A simple definition of ‘real time’ communication is that it is communication which enables the conversing parties to interrupt each other – which may seem impolite, but when you pause to think, this is an intrinsic part of conversation. The National Relay Service continues to operate but is expanding its role into online services. Likewise TTY’s will have an important role for some time to come.

In keeping with the increased importance of the IP communication, the Communication Alliance is in the process of reviewing the names of its Reference Panels. The term ‘Next Generation Networks’ (or NGNs) has become redundant – because they are already here and in operation, and an Emerging Services Reference Panel is the more aptly named replacement for the Networks Reference Panel. There are other nomenclature changes in the pipeline.

The Communications Alliance is also undertaking a review of the Australian Standard AS/ACIF S040:2001. This is the Standard part of which mandates that phone keypads must have a ‘raised pip’ on the 5-key plus a facility for a hearing loop coupler. The Standard applies to phones which are a part of the Standard Telephone Service (STS) – and we are awaiting clarification as to what phones are currently included in the STS. Sue Salthouse has had input to the Working Group (WG) which is looking at the possibility of review. Over past months a separate WG has been amalgamating 6 Consumer Codes into a single code named the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code. The draft has already been released for public comment (WWDA gave feedback at that stage) and should be ratified and officially published in the near future. Consumers were represented on the WG by two members of the CommsAlliance Consumer Council.

12.3. WWDA Telecommunications Group Contract Confirmed

The WWDA Telecommunications Group has been successful in obtaining a grant for its representative work from DCITA. This will enable us to continue to support a representative on the Telstra Disability Forum and the Telecommunications Disability Communication Representation (TEDICORE) Project Advisory Body (as well as the DC above). The Group welcomes a new member, Leah Hobson, who attended the September meeting of the Telstra Disability Forum as an observer, accompanying Margaret Cooper our regular representative.

13. New Report: Experiences of People with Disabilities in Domestic Airline Travel in Australia

In 2006 and 2007, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) worked with a number of key disability advocacy groups and individuals across Australia on the issue of barriers to access to airline travel for people with disabilities. This report entitled: ‘Flight Closed: Report on the experiences of People with Disabilities in Domestic Airline Travel in Australia’ uses the stories provided from people with disabilities and their families about their experiences of airline travel to identify the key barriers and propose solutions. Those experiences make it very clear that people with disabilities do not enjoy equality of access to airline travellers with others in Australia and that, if anything, things have got worse rather than better in the last five years. The report has been submitted to the Federal Government’s five-year Review of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002.

The Report is available for download from the PIAC website. Go to: http://www.piac.asn.au/publications/pubs/flightclos_20070831.html

14. Research Study – Parents of Young Adults with Intellectual Impairment

Griffith University in Brisbane is currently conducting a research study into the wellbeing of parents of young adults with an intellectual impairment. It appears that parents of young adults have been seriously neglected in the research literature and it is hoped that this study will highlight how these parents adjust to their child’s transition to adulthood. An additional outcome may be that this research provides important information for services that seek to support and advocate for these parents.

The criteria for inclusion in this study is that participants are the parents of a young adult aged between 17-21 years of age and that the young adult has been diagnosed with either intellectual impairment, developmental delay, speech or communication disorder, Down’s Syndrome or Autistic Spectrum Disorder. The research is being conducted by mail-out questionnaire which will take approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. If you wish to participate in this study, please forward your name, postal address and a brief description of your child’s diagnosis to:

or phone Gavin Brown on 0411 427 489 to arrange delivery of your questionnaire.

15. New Report: Supporting the housing of people with complex needs

The Australian Housing & Urban Research Institute (AHURI) has recently released a report entitled: ‘Supporting the housing of people with complex needs – Final Report’. The report focuses on the issue of providing housing and support to people with complex needs, specifically people with physical disability, people with intellectual disability, and people with mental illness. It builds on the extensive literature review undertaken in the AHURI Positioning Paper, which highlighted some problems with conceptualising this issue as a matter of finding and applying particular housing and support models to address the particular needs of people within these groups.

The Report is available for download from the AHURI website. Go to: http://www.ahuri.edu.au/publications/download/70311_fr

16. Discussion Paper: The Overlooked Consumers

This recently released Discussion Paper, entitled: ‘The Overlooked Consumers – 20% of the Australian Population with Disabilities and Older People’ examines the access, challenges and emerging possibilities for consumer electronics and home appliances. The Paper, commissioned by and for the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC), explains the vast access problems encountered by people with disabilities and older people in accessing consumer electronics and home appliances. It discusses some strategies and design approaches which can be adopted to improve the situation. It then collates and summarises work being done, including initiatives, research projects, guidelines and standards, and concludes with recommendations to the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) aimed at improving the situation in Australia.

The Discussion Paper is available in HTML format from the HREOC (Disability Rights) Website. Go to: www.humanrights.gov.au/disability_rights/consumer/overlooked.htm#_Toc176876010

17. Ensuring access to electronic media for the hearing impaired

The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator the Hon Helen Coonan recently announced an investigation into access to electronic media for the hearing impaired. Senator Coonan has said that the clear purpose of this investigation will be to stocktake developments in captioning and other essential access technologies that assist hearing impaired Australians, and consider options for their extension beyond the current requirements.

The investigation is to be completed by 30 April 2008, with the full report of that investigation to be tabled by the Minister in Parliament. It will be coordinated by the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts in consultation with other relevant Australian Government agencies. It will include consultations and examination of the work undertaken in this area by the free to air, subscription and national broadcasters, internet broadcasters, film producers and cinema operators.

A discussion paper will soon be made available for public comment.

A Poem By Cherie (WWDA Member)

I Don’t Want To Play

I am tired of this disease I have
I wish it would go away
I am tired of this disease I have
I am tired and I don’t want to play
It robs you of your freedom
It makes you very weary
I feel I am a prisoner too this disease
And it’s making my life quite dreary
I try real hard to keep my spirits up
And most of the time I do win
But just when you’re not expecting it
Your meds don’t work and it throws you into a spin
I’m tired of this disease I have
I wish it would go away
I would love to feel normal again
Even if it was just for one day
I could do all the wonderful things I miss
I could buy myself some beautiful shoes
The ones that have high heels
And I would walk around in them all day
Ah, that would be absolute bliss
I could go dancing and do a great cha-cha
Now that’s something I would really love to do
I could pretend I was Ginger Rodgers
Well maybe not, that might be going a bit too far
I could take my grandson to the park
And play with him all day
But I have to leave time for other things
Like jogging, I miss that, cause now I look quite funny
If you have ever seen a Parkinson person run
You would know why I miss running
Oh well, I could dream like this all day
But it is not going to get me too far
Because you can wish all you want
But dreams are just what they are
And I have to get back to reality
Because there are dishes in the sink
And I can’t sit here dreaming all day
Cause in the real world it doesn’t get you anywhere
Dreaming just makes you think
Of what you’re missing out on
And I have to get on with what I can do
Not live in a world of make believe
To myself I must be true.

WWDA Management Committee Members 2007 – 2008

The election process for positions on the WWDA Management Committee has recently concluded. There were three (3) vacant positions and WWDA received three (3) candidates at the close of the Nomination period. The new WWDA Management Committee for 2007-2008 is as follows:

Annie Parkinson – WWDA President

a picture of Annie Parkinson, WWDA President.

Annie Parkinson, a long-standing member of WWDA, and WWDA’s Vice-President for 2003-04, 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 1990s, 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. Annie has most recently joined the management committee of a small SAAP funded housing organisation which offers short-to-medium term housing for women who have experienced sexual abuse.

Sue Salthouse – WWDA Vice President

a picture of Sue Salthouse, WWDA Vice President.

Sue Salthouse has worked in the area of social justice since 1996, playing an active role in systemic advocacy for women with disabilities. Sue runs her own Consultancy company which specializes in a range of work in the disability sector – social research, government and non government policy advisor, conference facilitation, project development and management, TAFE teaching, and individual advocacy. Sue is a research and policy consultant to WWDA, coordinator of WWDA’s Telecommunications Working Group, and WWDA spokesperson on Industrial Relations and Employment. She has also undertaken a number of research and advocacy projects for WWDA covering a wide range of issues of concern to disabled women. Sue is a representative for WWDA and as a WWDA-affiliate, for the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, on a wide range of Advisory Groups. She regularly presents papers for WWDA at Conferences and other forums. Sue also convenes Women With Disabilities ACT (a WWDA-affiliate organisation).

Vicki Alipasinopoulos – Secretary

a picture of Vicki Alipasinopoulos

Vicki Alipasinopoulos has been a member of WWDA since 1999. Vicki’s background is in social work and she also holds a Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment. Vicki has been an active member of the disability sector and attended the first Leadership and Mentoring Workshop run by WWDA in 1999. Vicki currently serves on a number of committees in the disability sector, including the Management Committees of the Disability Resources Centre and Blind Citizens Australia. Vicki is also currently serving on a consumer feedback committee as part of the newly formed blindness agency, Vision Australia. This Committee provides feedback to staff to the Training, Technology and Employment team in Victoria. Vicki participates in voluntary work at various agencies where she provides counselling to clients who have an intellectual/psychiatric illness. Other voluntary work involves providing emergency relief, information, referral, advocacy and support.

Pamela Menere – Treasurer

a picture of Pamela Menere.

Pamela lives in Corryong in North East Victoria and has been involved with WWDA for many years, having held positions of Secretary and Treasurer of the Management Committee. Pamela has been involved with several advocacy and disability related groups including the Victorian Women with Disabilities Network, Towong Shire Community Access Committee and the Hume Region DHS Disability Advisory Committee. She is also actively involved with numerous other community organisations in her local area. Pamela has worked in part time paid employment as an outreach employment counsellor with a disability employment agency.

Helen Meekosha

a picture of Helen Meekosha.

Helen Meekosha is Associate Professor in the School of Social Work, University of New South Wales, Australia. She worked as a community development worker for 17 years in the UK and Australia prior to her appointment at UNSW. Her research interests cross boundaries of race, ethnicity, disability and gender. In 1996 she was instrumental in establishing The Social Relations of Disability Research Network, a group of interdisciplinary scholars interested in Disability Studies. Later she went on to be a founding member of the Disability Studies and Research Institute (DsaRI). Helen has written and spoken extensively, from a feminist and a disability perspective on citizenship, human rights, social movements, the media and the body, communications and multiculturalism. Active in the disability movement for 20 years, she has been involved with Women with Disabilities Australia since it inception over a decade ago and as President in 2001 accepted the Australian Human Rights Award in the community category. She is an Overseas Consultative Editor of Disability and Society, on the JORSEN International Advisory, a member of the International Advisory Editorial Board of the Encyclopaedia of Disability 2006 (Sage), and an editor of Volume 4. In June 2005 she was the Noted Scholar in feminist disability studies at the University of British Columbia.

Kate List

a picture of Kate List.

Kate has a keen interest in disability policy and is an enthusiastic campaigner for the rights of women with disabilities. Kate has worked as a Policy & Research Officer for WWDA and has also worked in disability policy with the Commonwealth Government. As a qualified scientist, Kate has also worked at the Australian Museum and taught at the Australian Defence Force. Kate has undertaken a number of representative roles on behalf of WWDA including being the WWDA rep on the Board of the Australian Disability Studies and Research Institute (DSARI).

Sheila King

a picture of Sheila King.

Sheila King has a long history of advocacy for people with disabilities. She is the Secretary and founding member of Access For All Alliance, a volunteer community group established to ensure equitable and dignified access to all premises and facilities whether public or private, to all members of the community. In November 2003 Sheila received an Annual Peer Award from the Physical Disability Council of Australia for her efforts in addressing the issue of access to health professionals across Australia. This took the form of a study into the lack of adjustable height examination beds in doctor’s surgeries throughout Australia. Sheila serves on a number of Committees and undertakes a wide range of representative work in the disability sector.

Jo Dixon

a picture of Jo Dixon.

Jo Dixon has a keen interest in human rights, disability and gender issues. She is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Laws Degree at Latrobe University in Victoria. Jo is very active in student advocacy within the University, and is the current Disability Liaison Officer where she actively promotes the needs and rights of students with disabilities. She is also the student representative on the La Trobe University Disability Advisory Committee. Jo is an active community volunteer and has undertaken voluntary work in the areas of asylum seekers and refugees; aboriginal legal aid; youth support services and domestic violence support services.

Margie Charlesworth

a picture of Margie Charlesworth

Margie has a keen interest in issues of mental health. She has been a volunteer systemic advocate since 1996 and has contributed to a number of community based disability organisations, including the Physical Disability Council of South Australia and Disability Action (SA). Margie has also held the position of Secretary for the WWDA Management Committee. Margie has undertaken a Bachelor of Social Science, at Adelaide University, majoring in Gender Studies and Politics. In 2005 Margie stepped down from the WWDA Management Committee to go to Canada to complete her studies, and re-joined the Committee on her return in 2007.

Rayna Lamb

a picture of Rayna Lamb

Rayna was born in New Zealand, and moved to Western Australia when she was 16. She has worked in a range of areas and has completed a year of BA in Writing, which she has put on hold in order to focus her energies on her work with women with disabilities in Western Australia. In 2003, Rayna established a network of women with disabilities in Perth, which evolved into the community based organisation Women With Disabilities WA Inc. Rayna co-ordinates this organisation on a voluntary basis. Rayna is particularly passionate about raising awareness about women with disabilities and family and domestic violence, and finding ways to reduce the isolation of women with disabilities.

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.