WWDA Submission to the Tasmanian Department of Health And Human Services on Its Draft Strategic Framework For Disability Services 2003 – 2008
In late 2003, the Tasmanian Government released its Draft Strategic Framework For Disability Services 2003 – 2008. This is WWDA’s Submission to the Tasmanian Government on the Draft Strategic Framework. This Submission was researched and written by Samantha Salvaneschi, for Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) Inc. Copyright WWDA 2003.
This paper is a Submission on the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services Draft Strategic Framework for Disability Services 2003-2008. The Department invited Submissions earlier this year.
Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) Inc. is a not-for-profit organisation constituted and driven by women with disabilities. Its members and managers are all women with disabilities. It also has many associate members, which include Australian and overseas banks, research institutes, community services, students, and others who are supporters of human rights for women with disabilities.
Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) is making this Submission, because women with disabilities disproportionately experience breaches of their human right to adequate health and community services. Where the Submission recommends changes to the Framework, it clearly evidences how they are practicable ones that significantly add to the Framework’s efficacy.
Acknowledgements and Disclaimer
Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) gratefully acknowledges the support it received in 2003 from the Global Fund For Women, the Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services and the expertise it receives daily from women with disabilities. Without these contributions, the policy advocacy of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) – such as this Submission – would not be possible.
Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) Inc. is a member-driven, independent body with no affiliations with any political party. Its members, Executive Officer and Committee of Management members are all women with disabilities. They have identified improvement of services for women with disabilities, as one of the organisation’s policy priorities for 2003 to 2008.
Consequently, Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) is very committed to policy advocacy on the protection of the human right of women with disabilities to adequate disability support services. Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) Inc. has published this Submission to advance this policy advocacy. The organisation hopes that the Submission will be of value to women with disabilities; advocates; policy-makers; researchers; philanthropists; and members of industries, professions and other communities of interest.
Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) is the peak organisation for women living with disabilities in Australia. Its members, management committee and staff are women with disabilities.
This Paper provides the comments of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) to the Tasmanian Government draft Disability Services Strategic Framework 2003-2008 (hereafter, the ‘Strategic Framework’). The Tasmanian Government invited public submissions on this draft earlier this year.
Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) hopes that the Tasmanian Government will find the Submission a valuable reference in its deliberations on the Strategic Framework.
Why Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) Has Made This Submission
Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) has made this Submission for a number of important reasons.
First and foremost, the Submission was developed because women with disabilities disproportionately experience breaches of their citizenship right to participate in decision-making processes, about many matters that fundamentally affect them, including disability support services. These breaches occur in all parts of Australian society, including local and state and federal government forums (Frohmader, 2002; Newell, 2002; Altman, 1998; Meekosha and Jakubowicz, 1996; Graycar and Morgan, 1990).
Second, one of the WWDA policy priorities for 2003 to 2008 is the improvement of the accessibility of adequate disability support services to women with disabilities. This priority was identified earlier this year by the organisation’s large and diverse membership base, Committee of Management members and Executive Officer.
Consequently, Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) is very committed to policy advocacy on the Australian State providing services that preserve, protect and restore the human rights of women with disabilities.
Third, WWDA hopes that the Submission will be of value to women with disabilities; advocates; policy-makers; researchers; philanthropists; and members of industries, professions and other communities of interest.
Fourth, WWDA has achieved privileged access to the evidence that underpins policy advocacy for women with disabilities – like this Submission – because of its strong and multiple communication channels with women with disabilities and their supporters.
These ongoing communications yield rich data, not least because the members are women living with a wide range of disabilities, in a spectrum of circumstances. Similarly, the associate membership is comprised of a vast array of individuals, networks and organisations. They are located all over rural, regional and urban parts of Australia and the world.
The corporate associate members include financial institutions, research centres, municipal councils, medical services and other so-called ‘mainstream’ service providers. They are also bodies that are dedicated to particular marginalised groups. These include migrant resource centres; refuges for Indigenous women and children; health services; lobby groups for people who identify as queer; and others.
WWDA Submissions are also informed by WWDA’s ongoing contacts with government and non-government organisations that may or may not be associate members. These organisations are ones that profoundly affect the rights of people with disabilities. The government ones include the Department of Communications, Arts and Information Technology; the Department of Family and Community Services; the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission; State and Territory agencies for health and community services; and local government authorities.
The non-government organisations encompass Disabled Peoples International; the National Justice Coalition for Women; the Australian Local Government Association; the (Victorian) Action for Disability in Ethnic Communities; trade unions; and professional associations.
WWDA is also sure to keep abreast of secondary evidence on issues that are highly pertinent to women with disabilities, such as the level and quality of disability support services accessible to women with disabilities. WWDA has already conducted much research and policy advocacy on service provision for women with disabilities and closely related matters (see www.wwda.org.au , generally).
(For more information on the aims and activities of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), please see Appendix 2 of this Submission.)
The Department of Health and Human Services put questions to prompt citizens’ comments, in its consultation paper on the Strategic Framework entitled DISABILITY SERVICES TASMANIA STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK 2003 -2008 October Draft 2003 (hereafter, the ‘Strategic Framework document’) The following are the Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) answers to those questions on matters it wishes to comment upon.
The comments are provided under each of the questions. Extracts from the Strategic Framework document are italicised. These include quotations of the Framework’s passages, headings and consultation questions.
Comment 1: The definitions of ‘disability services’ and ‘quality of life’
There is no definition of the types of services that fall under the term, disability services. This definition should be provided up-front in the Introduction and Context, so that the reader knows what sorts of services the Framework is about.
Further, the Introduction states that The Government of Tasmania is committed to ensure that the quality of life of all Tasmanians with disabilities continues to significantly improve.
Has the Government defined what ‘quality of life’ might mean for this population group and segments of it? Has it also defined what ‘quality of life’ might mean for those groups within this population that are significantly different from each other? If so, what indicators of this quality of life has Disability Services developed for the whole population and significantly different segments of it?
By ‘significantly different’ population segments, these comments mean groups with the group of people with disabilities that enjoy, on average, significantly different levels of and/or different promoters of, and/or different risks to, their health and well-being.
For example, some people have disabilities that affect the way they move. Therefore, the health and well-being of these people is highly contingent upon, among other things, governments making buildings physically accessible.
This is not so much the case for people with disabilities that do not dramatically affect their mobility. Their health and well-being is a function of other necessary changes to public goods and services.
Similarly, some people have disabilities that tend to be positively and highly associated with chronic ill-health. These people are more likely to need a health system that treats people with equal respect and dignity than people with disabilities who enjoy a low incidence of illness.
Of course, this is all to presume that the Strategic Framework authors might intend ‘quality of life’ to denote human health and well-being or a close equivalent. This is a reasonable presumption, given the currency of such definitions of ‘quality of life’. These definitions have gained publicity via the World Health Organisation and other bodies that define health as the multiple dimensions of well-being, not simply the absence of illness (First International Conference on Health Promotion, 1986).
If the Framework authors intended a definition of this ilk, it would be most apt for the Framework to spell it out. This would be a fitting aid to the reader’s grasp of the Framework. It would better enable the readers to grasp the Framework’s conceptual basis.
Comment 2: Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) highly commends the Government for formally steeping its policies and procedures in discourses on human rights and freedoms
The Introduction denotes that the Strategic Framework is anchored in the Draft Framework for Action to Achieve Social Justice for People with Disabilities in Tasmania’. This Draft Framework has a human rights approach that engenders awareness that people with disabilities are as entitled, as any other humans, to their rights as human beings. This is a useful reminder because, unfortunately, many systems and individuals still need reminding.
The Introduction also says this about human rights law:
The Strategic Framework operates within a policy and legislative context that provides a safeguard to individuals’ basic rights. The legislative framework includes the Commonwealth Disability Services Act (1986), the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act (1992), the Tasmanian Disability Services Act (1992), the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act (1998), the Tasmanian Guardianship and Administration Act (1995), the Tasmanian Health Complaints Act (1995) and the Tasmanian Mental Health Act (1996).
Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) suggests that the Strategic Framework should also state that the legal framework includes: the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (48/96 of 20 December 1993); the Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons (1975); the Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons (1971); the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966); the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (1965); and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) (see http://www.unhchr.ch).
It is pertinent to state this, because the Strategic Framework is explicitly linked to the Framework for Action to Achieve Social Justice for People with Disabilities in Tasmania’, and the authors of the latter have clearly derived it – intentionally or not – from the human rights law specified in these international instruments. Accordingly, enumeration of these international instruments enhances the reader’s understanding of the conceptual moorings of the Strategic Framework.
Comment 3: Attachment of Framework for Action to Achieve Social Justice for People with Disabilities in Tasmania and Tasmanians Together
The Strategic Framework Introduction states that: The policy context for the Strategic Framework is defined by the Tasmanian Government’s (draft) ‘Framework for Action to Achieve Social Justice for People with Disabilities in Tasmania’.
The Introduction also refers to the Tasmanian Government Report, Tasmanians Together. Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) (WWDA) recommends that these documents be hyperlinked in the electronic version of the Strategic Framework. Further, WWDA recommends attaching a hard copy of them to all the printed copies of the Strategic Framework. The hyperlinks and attachments will be very useful, aids to the reader. There should also be note in both versions on how to obtain copies in various formats, including Plain English ones; ones that are presented in ways that suit people with intellectual disabilities; ones for people with sight disabilities; and ones in languages other than English.
Comment 4: Ministerial Council References
The Introduction also states that: Disability Services Tasmania will work collaboratively with Ministerial Advisory Council to develop a system for monitoring, reporting and evaluating the implementation of the Framework.
It seems important here to advise people where and when they can view updates on the development of the consultation strategy and the terms of reference, activities and membership of the Ministerial Advisory Council.
Please also ensure that the place where people can view these updates is not confined to the web-site. Please also provide contact telephone and TTY numbers so that people who need to use a medium other than the internet can peruse consultation strategy and Ministerial Council developments.
At this point of the Strategic Framework, it would also be useful to state whether the Council’s consultation strategy will be consistent with the spirit and letter of the Tasmanian Government’s Optimising Data Collection and Input from People With Disabilities (2001). In so stating, this document should be hyperlinked in the electronic version of the Strategic Framework and fully cited in the hard copies. There should also be note in both versions on how to obtain copies in various formats, including Plain English ones; ones that are presented in ways that suit people with intellectual disabilities; ones for people with sight disabilities; and ones in languages other than English.
Comment 5: Definition of People with Disabilities
Under, 2.1 Scope, the Strategic Framework states:
This Framework applies to all people in Tasmania who have a ‘disability’ as defined by the Tasmanian Disability Services Act (1992) – namely a disability
- Attributable to an intellectual, psychiatric, sensory or physical impairment or a combination of those impairments: and
- Which is permanent or likely to be permanent; and
- Which results in – (1) a substantially reduced capacity of a person for communication, learning or mobility; and (2) the need for continuing support services; and
- Which may or may not be of a chronic episodic nature;
It is unsurprising that the Disability Services Framework should use the definition of disability prescribed by the Disability Services Act. However, this definition has the potential to adversely ramify on people with disabilities.
This is because the Act’s definition is one that, without any exceptions, limits the meaning of disability to disabilities that are, or are deemed likely to be, ones that have onset and onset permanently. This definition has the following grave problems.
First, it is wide open to interpretations that the Framework is not applicable to people with certain permanent disabilities that are not easily diagnosed and/or not well recognised by the medical profession. Such disabilities include, variations of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Myalgic Encephalopathy Syndrome and Gulf War Syndrome (Productivity Commission, 2003).
Second, it is increasingly difficult to determine with any certainty, wether a person’s disabilities are likely to be permanent or not. This is because of the rapid pace of changes in medical technologies, including surgery techniques and pharmaceutical inventions. Third, if the Disability Services system shuts out people who are likely to be imminently disabled, then it will fail to prevent the onset of disabilities and to mitigate the severity of disabilities.
Consequently, Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) (WWDA) suggests that the Act’s definition of disability be amended with a practicable and sustainable definition that is not vulnerable to problems (a) and (b). This definition can then be used in the Framework.
The amendment that WWDA proposes is a truncation of both the definition of disability declared by the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the definition in the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act 1998. These definitions are, in semantic terms, exactly the same.
The Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 defines disability in this way:
disability, in relation to a person, means:
(a) total or partial loss of the person’s bodily or mental functions; or
(b) total or partial loss of a part of the body; or
(c) the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness; or
(d) the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness; or
(e) the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person’s body; or
(f) a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction; or
(g) a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgment or that results in disturbed behaviour;
(part of Section 4, Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992.).
and includes a disability that:
(h) presently exists; or
(i) previously existed but no longer exists; or
(j) may exist in the future; or
(k) is imputed to a person.
A viable definition for the Framework would be this one with subsections (i) and (k) excised,.
Subsections (i) and (k) refer to people who are not living with a disability or an imminent one. They respectively denote people who once lived with a disability; and people who are merely imputed to have a disability. Accordingly, these subsections are also inappropriate components of a definition pertaining to people who need disability support services.
Section 3 of the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 defines disability as:
any of the following that presently exists, previously existed but no longer exists, may exist in the future, whether or not arising from an illness, disease or injury or from a condition subsisting at birth:
(a) a total or partial loss of the person’s bodily or mental functions;
(b) total or partial loss of a part of the body;
(c) the presence in the body of organisms causing or capable of causing disease or illness;
(d) the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of a person’s body;
(e) disorder, malformation, malfunction or disfigurement that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder, malformation, malfunction or disfigurement;
(f) a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person’s thought processes, perceptions of reality, emotions or judgment or that results in disturbed behaviour;
(g) reliance on a guide-dog, wheelchair or other remedial or therapeutic device;
Similarly, this definition is one that fits the Framework, once one phrase is removed. This is previously existed but no longer exists.
Comment 6: Commonwealth/State Relations
Under 2.7 of the Scope section, the Framework reads:
A new challenge for disability services in Tasmania is the significant shift in the role of the Commonwealth Government and the impact it’s policies are having at a State and Territory level on people with disabilities.
This applies particularly to the changing eligibility criteria for income support for people with disabilities and the marked scaling back in the provision of growth for accommodation and support services. Also the move towards case based funding for Commonwealth disability employment services has resulted in substantial numbers of people with high support needs no longer being able to access employment options. These clients are reverting to state funded day options programs.
There is a need for ongoing development with Commonwealth Agencies to ensure that the Commonwealth maintains an active role in provision of services for people with a disability and that effective service delivery is not hindered by issues of inadequate jurisdictional collaboration.
This wind-back in the Commonwealth Government’s support for people with disabilities is one that it is very important to alert citizens about.
Consequently, it is worth lending some more substance, by including references to any Tasmanian Government publications covering what it is doing to implement ‘ongoing development with Commonwealth Agencies�’ and ‘jurisdictional collaboration’. For example, is there a published paper on what the Tasmanian Government urged of the Commonwealth Government during the Commonwealth-State Disability Services Agreement negotiations?
Further, for this section to have substance, it must refer to how the Tasmanian Government is factoring this cost-shifting into its resource allocation decisions. That is, the Framework should enumerate the steps that the Tasmanian Government is taking to mitigate the adverse effects of the Commonwealth’s under-investment.
In particular, it is important for the Framework to note whether the State Government is systematically measuring the adverse effects of the Commonwealth’s under-investment on people with disabilities. If the Government is evaluating this, the Framework should specify how. It should also state which people with disabilities are being disadvantaged by the lack of Commonwealth investment and how.
In addition, the Framework should stipulate the strategies that the Government will implement to ensure State services are sufficiently resourced to meet the consequent increases in unmet service needs. This is imperative, given the serious shortfalls in disability services evidenced by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
If the Government did this, it would be meeting its Tasmania Together commitment to duly account for the Tasmania Together Goals in State budget decisions. This is so, especially with respect to those Goals that explicitly and clearly encompass the delivery of adequate services to disadvantaged minorities. The document names people with disabilities as one of these minorities.
Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) trusts that the Tasmanian Government believes that the most important consideration in the Commonwealth-State dialogue is that people with disabilities do not ultimately suffer from inadequate services, while governments argue over vertical fiscal imbalances. It is direly necessary for Tasmania to take the lead in these negotiations by placing the service needs of people with disabilities first. This would be both a demonstration of admirable leadership and one that substantially fulfils the Tasmania Together Goals.
Comment 7: The Model of Disability Underpinning the Strategic Framework
The Framework should say more to make explicit the model of disability on which it is based. This is important to shift readers from the commonly held, traditional concept of disability to the social model of disability. Appreciating the social model is fundamental to understanding how services are unnecessarily biased against serving people with disabilities and how this can be changed.
The traditional model of disability focuses exclusively on how a person with a disability lacks the full spectrum of abilities that are supposed to be possessed by every human. (Newell, 2002; Jones and Marks, 1999). In the social model, humans experience disability as an impediment, partially or wholly because of human-made systems that disproportionately privilege people who are without disabilities for now, at the expense of people with disabilities (Newell, 2002; Jones and Marks, 1999).
Thus, the social model highlights that it is decision-makers’ choices that often make disabilities disabling (Frohmader, 2002). Accordingly, the social model is highly pertinent to any framework that refers to the accessibility of services.
Accessibility is the degree to which services are shaped to equitably serve everyone they purport to serve, not only clients from privileged groups (Newell, 2002; Jones and Marks, 1999; Meekosha and Jakubowicz, 1996). Hence, it is especially important for the social model to be in the reader’s mind, when the Framework refers to:
- services that are not exclusively dedicated to people with disabilities
- sectors besides the disability one, the government and communities (see, for example, the reference to ‘mainstream services’, in 2.8).
This is because, unless institutions comprehend how their structures exclude people with disabilities, they cannot even begin to transform into universally inclusive bodies (Newell, 2002; Jones and Marks, 1999; Meekosha and Jakubowicz, 1996).
Comment 8: The Human Rights Imperative for Reforming Mainstream Services to Meet the Needs of People With Disabilities
The Framework must flag the interdependent nature of human rights and human rights to goods and from harms. It is critical to underline these points to enhance the reader’s understanding of the Framework’s references to:
- the accessibility of governments, communities and mainstream services, to people with disabilities
- ‘quality of life’ for people with disabilities.
The Framework could do so, by mentioning:
- the weighty corpus of evidence bearing out that the universal human rights adopted by the United Nations are necessary conditions of human health and well-being.
- the human rights that enable humans to live a satisfying life, include rights to adequate income; housing; employment, education, health and justice services; and inclusion in recreation and leisure activities, government decision-making processes and other fulfilling aspects of private and public life.
- the human rights to be free from harms. These include the rights to a life free of violence, harassment, wrongful incarceration and other harms (see, Cattalini, 1993; the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (48/96 of 20 December 1993); the Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons (1975); the Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons (1971); International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966); the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (1965); and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)).
Comment 9: Acknowledgement of the Self-Determination of People with Disabilities
The references to Disability Services collaborating with the carers and relatives of people with disabilities are appropriate. However, it is imperative that it is fully recognised that the aspirations and needs of people with disabilities are not the same as, and are often in conflict with, those of their significant others and paid carers. This must be held in mind, whenever the Department implements this principle, or gives any guidance on the principle (Newell, 2002; Sawer, 1998).
It is necessary to underline this, because it is well-documented that governments, service providers and others often conflate the wishes and requirements of people with disabilities with those of their significant others and paid carers. It would be wrong to suggest that these desires and needs do not sometimes coincide. They often do. However, services and others must regard people with disabilities as self-determining, in order to respect their rights (Newell, 2002, Sawer, 1998).
The fact that people with disabilities are not wholly self-reliant is no justification for failing to prioritise their conceptions of what they need and want. This is because, all humans, even those with no disability, sometimes experience an inability to make certain decisions for themselves. That is, none of us is the Rational, Autonomous being envisage by the Enlightenment thinking. If this is acknowledged, it becomes difficult to – intentionally or unintentionally – dismiss a person with a disability as someone who cannot determine what they want and need.
This is a point worth labouring, because Enlightenment prescriptions about the extreme self-sufficiency of persons fundamentally pervade contemporary discourses about personhood, including service delivery discourses (Christman, 2003).
Accordingly, it is hard to overstate the importance of goading service providers and others to remember that they must allow and enable people with disabilities to specify for themselves their needs and wishes. This means service providers people should assimilate to the communication modes preferred by many people with disabilities, not those types of communication preferred by the service providers (Cattalini, 1993).
For instance, if a person with an intellectual disability has developed their own sign language, the people doing the consulting should learn this language or have it interpreted by someone who is proficient in it. This interpreter must be acceptable to the person with a disability.
This is only what is minimally required of the people doing the consulting to ensure that they do not impose the language system that they happen to prefer, at the expense of silencing people with disabilities (Marsh, 1999; Sawer, 1998; Tully, 1995; Derber, Schwartz and Magrass, 1990; First International Conference on Health Promotion, 1986; Larson, 1977).
Comment 10: Accessibility of Framework and associated Documents and Meetings to People with Disabilities
In any liberal democracy, it is imperative that the Government makes its communications accessible to people with disabilities as well as everyone else (Sawer, 1998; Williams, 1998).
Accordingly, Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) recommends that the Strategic Framework, associated documents and meetings meet the following accessibility guidelines:
the Commonwealth Disability Strategy: http://www.facs.gov.au/disability/cds/index.htm, particularly the Better Information and Communication Practices part: http://www.facs.gov.au/disability/cds/pubs/icp/icp_index.htm
the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission advisory note on web accessibility: http://www.hreoc.gov.au/disability_rights/standards/www_3/www_3.html
An authoritative interpretation of the latter reference can be found in Maguire v Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games  EOC 93-123;  EOC 93-124).
Altman, Dennis. 1998. Representation, public policy and AIDS. Paper to Academy of Social Sciences/ Reshaping Australian Institutions Workshop on Representation, Canberra, Australian National University, December 1998.
Cattalini, H. 1993. Access to Services for Women with Disabilities who are Subjected to Violence, (Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Office of the Status of Women, National Committee on Violence against Women). Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.
Christman, John. 2003. ‘Autonomy in Moral and Political Philosophy’. In Edward N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2003 Edition), http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2003/entries/autonomy-moral/ (accessed 1 December 2003).
Commonwealth of Australia. 2000. Commonwealth Disability Strategy. Canberra: Department of Family and Community Services.
Commonwealth of Australia. Disability Discrimination Act 1992. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.
Commonwealth of Australia. Race Discrimination Act 1975. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.
Department of the Attorney-General. Discussion Paper: DDA Standards on Commonwealth Government Information and Communications, http://www.hreoc.gov.au/disability_rights/commonwealth/communications.htm (accessed 1 December 2003).
Derber, Charles, William A. Schwartz and Yale Magrass. 1990. Power in the Highest Degree: Professionals and the Rise of a New Mandarin Order. New York: Oxford University Press.
First International Conference on Health Promotion. 1986. Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, Ottawa, 21 November, The move towards a new public health, November 17-21, 1986 Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, WHO/HPR/HEP/95.1.
Frohmader, Carolyn. 2002. There’s No Justice – Just Us: The Status of Women With Disabilities In Australia. Hobart: Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA).
Graycar, R. and Morgan, J. 1990. The Hidden Gender of Law. Leichhardt, NSW: The Federation Press.
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. August 2002. World Wide Web Access: Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes, Version 3.2. Sydney: Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission http://www.hreoc.gov.au/disability_rights/standards/www_3/www_3.html (accessed 1 December 2003).
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. 2001. Maguire v Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games  EOC 93-123;  EOC 93-124.
Jones, M. and Marks, L. 1999. ‘Law and the Social Construction of Disability.’ Disability, Diversability and Legal Change. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff.
Larson, Margali Sarfatti. 1977. The Rise of Professionalism: A Sociological Analysis. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Marsh, Ian. 1999. ‘Opening Up the Policy Process.’ In Marian Sawer and Sarah Miskin (eds). December 1999. Representation and Institutional Change: 50 Years of Proportional Representation in the Senate Papers on Parliament No. 34 Canberra: Department of the Senate, http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/pubs/pops/pop34/index.htm (accessed 1 December 2003).
Newell, Christopher. 2002. ‘Disability Apartheid’. Aired on Australian Broadcasting Commission Radio National Program, Perspectives, on Wednesday 8 May 2002, http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/perspective/stories/s550758.htm (accessed 1 December 2003).
Productivity Commission. 2003. Review of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Draft Report. Melbourne: Commonwealth of Australia.
Sawer, Marian. 1998.`Mirrors, mouthpieces, mandates and men of judgement: concepts of representation in the Australian Federal Parliament’. Papers on Parliament, no. 31, June 1998.
Tasmanians. 2001. Tasmanians Together. Hobart: Tasmanian Government.
Tasmanian Crown. 1998. Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act 1998. Hobart: Tasmanian Parliamentary Counsel.
Tasmanian Crown. 1992. Tasmanian Disability Services Act 1992. Hobart: Tasmanian Parliamentary Counsel.
Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services. 2003. October 2003 Draft of the Disability Services Strategic Framework 2003-2008. Hobart: Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services.
Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services. 2001. Optimising Data Collection and Input from People With Disabilities. Hobart: Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services.
Tully, James. 1995. Strange Multiplicity: Constitutionalism in an age of diversity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
United Nations. 1975. Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons. Geneva: United Nations.
United Nations. 1971. Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons. Geneva: United Nations.
United Nations 1966. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Geneva: United Nations.
United Nations. 1965. International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination. Geneva: United Nations.
United Nations. 1948. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Geneva: United Nations.
United Nations. 1993. Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. Geneva: United Nations.
Williams, Melissa 1998. Voice, Trust and Memory: Marginal Groups and the Failings of Liberal Representation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Appendix 1: About Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA)
Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) was incorporated in 1995 and evolved from the National Women’s Network within Disabled People’s International Australia (DPIA), where it had been operating as an un-funded Network for some eight years. WWDA was initially established by a group of women with disabilities who felt that their needs and concerns were not being acknowledged or addressed within the broader disability sector, or the women’s sector in Australia.
Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) is the peak organisation for women with all types of disabilities in Australia. It is a federating body of individuals and networks in each State and Territory of Australia and is made up of women with disabilities and associated organisations. The national secretariat is located in Tasmania, an island State of Australia. WWDA is run by women with disabilities, for 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 seeks to ensure opportunities in all walks of life for all women with disabilities. In this it aims to increase awareness of, and address issues faced by, women with disabilities in the community. WWDA seeks to ensure the advancement of education of society to the status and needs of women with disabilities in order to promote equity, reduce suffering, poverty, discrimination and exploitation of women with disabilities. WWDA is unique, in that it operates as a national disability organisation; a national women’s organisation; and a national human rights organisation.
WWDA addresses disability within a social model, which identifies the barriers and restrictions facing women with disabilities as the focus for reform.
The aim of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) is to be a national voice for the needs and rights of women with disabilities and a national force to improve the lives and life chances of women with disabilities.
The objectives of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) are:
- to actively promote the participation of women with disabilities in all aspects of social, economic, political and cultural life;
- to advocate on issues of concern to women with disabilities in Australia; and
- to seek to be the national representative organisation for women with disabilities in Australia by: undertaking systemic advocacy; providing policy advice; undertaking research; and providing support, information and education.
More information about Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) can be found on WWDA’s website at: www.wwda.org.au
Appendix 2: The Position Of Women With Disabilities In Australia – A Snapshot
Women with disabilities are, from the government record, one of the most marginalised and disadvantaged groups in Australia. Analysis of data available from a variety of sources, gives us the following information about women with disabilities in Australia.
- There are 3.6 million people in Australia with a disability, making up 19% of the total population. The proportion of males and females with a disability is similar (around 9.5% each) although it varies across age groups.
- There are 1.8 million women with disabilities in Australia. There are more women with disabilities in the older age groups, most notably those 79 years onwards.
- Of the 1.1 million people with a profound or severe core activity restriction, 616,000 are women with disabilities (56%). Among older people with disabilities, the rates of severe and profound disability are markedly greater for females.
- Over 57% of women with disabilities living in households need assistance to move around or go out, shower or dress, prepare meals, do housework, undertake property maintenance or paperwork, or communicate.
- Women with disabilities are less likely to be in paid work than other women, men with disabilities or the population as a whole. Men with disabilities are almost twice as likely to have jobs than women with disabilities. In 1997-98 Commonwealth Government funded open employment services assisted over 31,000 people with disabilities in their efforts to find and maintain jobs on the open labour market. 66.6% of those assisted were men with disabilities. Annual Census of Commonwealth Government funded open employment services show that the percentage of women with disabilities being assisted by these services has continued to decline.
- Women with disabilities’ participation rates in the labour market are lower than men with disabilities’ participation rates across all disability levels and types. Women with disabilities are less likely than men with disabilities to receive vocational rehabilitation or entry to labour market programs. Commonwealth Rehabilitation Services statistics for 1994/5 indicate only 35% of referred clients were female with women more likely to be rehabilitated to independent living (45%) than vocational goals (36%).
- Women with disabilities earn less than their male counterparts. 51% of women with a disability earn less than $200 per week compared to 36% of men with a disability. Only 16% of women with a disability earn over $400 per week, compared to 33% of men with a disability.
- There is a higher incidence of incapacity (10.2%) for unemployed females in Australia compared to unemployed males (7.6%). This applies consistently across all age groups. Unemployed females have a one-third greater incidence of incapacity than unemployed males. The higher incidence of incapacity for unemployed females is more pronounced for those under 50 years age, and especially for 30-39 and under 21 year olds.
- Women with disabilities are less likely than their male counterparts to receive a senior secondary and/or tertiary education. Only 16% of all women with disabilities are likely to have any secondary education compared to 28% of men with disabilities.
- Women with disabilities are substantially over-represented in public housing, comprising over 40% of all persons in Australia aged 15-64 in this form of tenure. Women with disabilities are less likely to own their own houses than their male counterparts.
- Women with disabilities pay the highest level of their gross income on housing, yet are in the lowest income earning bracket. Some women with disabilities pay almost 50 per cent of their gross income on housing and housing related costs. Over 20% of women with disabilities living in public housing are dissatisfied with the service they receive from their State or Territory housing authority.
- Women with disabilities spend more of their income on medical care and health related expenses than men with disabilities.
- Women with disabilities have a consistently higher level of unmet need than their male counterparts across all disability levels and types. Women with disabilities are less likely to receive appropriate services than men with equivalent needs or other women. 60% of recipients of disability support services funded under the Commonwealth/State Disability Agreement are men with disabilities.
- Women with disabilities are less likely than women without disabilities to receive appropriate health services, particularly breast and cervical cancer screening programs, bone density testing, menopause and incontinence management. In Australia, 41% of women with disabilities with core activity restriction aged 70-75 have never had a mammogram. Almost 30% of women with disabilities aged 70-75 with core activity restriction have never had a pap smear. Of those women with disabilities aged 70-75 core activity restriction who have had a pap smear, 39% have not had regular pap smears (every 2 years). These figures are likely to be much higher for women with disabilities with different disability types (eg: intellectual, cognitive, psychiatric, deaf/hearing impaired, blind/visually impaired) across all age groups.
- Girls and women with disabilities are more likely to be unlawfully sterilised than their male counterparts. Between 1992-1997 at least 1045 girls with disabilities in Australia have been unlawfully sterilised. Comparisons with other data sources suggest that the true number is much greater, perhaps by a factor of several times.
- Regardless of age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or class, women with disabilities are assaulted, raped and abused at a rate of at least two times greater than non-disabled women. Statistics indicate that 90% of women with intellectual disabilities have been sexually abused. 68% of women with an intellectual disability will be subjected to sexual abuse before they reach 18.
- Women with disabilities are more likely to be institutionalised than their male counterparts.
- Women with disabilities are often forced to live in situations in which they are vulnerable to violence. They are more likely to experience violence at work than other women, men with disabilities or the population as a whole.
- Access to telecommunications is a major area of inequity for women with disabilities in Australia. A national survey in 1999 found that 84% of women with disabilities are restricted in their access to telecommunications. 49% of women with disabilities are restricted by issues of affordability; 76% by poor design of telecommunications equipment; 20% by lack of training; 20% by lack of information; and 18% by discrimination.
(Sources: Anderson 1996; Frohmader 1998; WWDA 1998; WWDA 1999, ABS 1999, ABS 1993, AIHW 1998, AIHW 1999, AIHW 2000, Currie 1996, Brady and Grover 1997, Temby 1997, Cooper and Temby 1997, Horsley 1991, Binstead 1997, Rutnam, Martin-Murray and Smith 1999, Warburton et al 1999).