Papers, Articles, Reports & Submissions 2011 – 2015


Women With Disabilities Australia: ‘Submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC): Development of the General Comment on the Rights of Adolescents’ (April 2015) [PDF] [Word]

In early 2015, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child announced its decision to develop a General Comment (GC) on the Rights of Adolescents. The experiences, opportunities and challenges facing adolescents clearly varies widely across different regions and between different groups of adolescents. The Committee therefore sought submissions from interested bodies and States, in all regions and from a wide range of perspectives, to inform the drafting process. WWDA’s Submission to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, to inform the development of the General Comment on the Rights of Adolescents, focuses on 8 key areas and themes, including: 1) Freedom from forced or coerced sterilisation; 2) Freedom from forced contraception; 3) Freedom to exercise full control over sexual and reproductive health; 4) Freedom to express sexuality and gender identity and to access relevant and accurate information and resources regarding sexuality and gender identity; 5) Freedom from all forms of violence, exploitation and abuse; 6) Acknowledgment of the multiple and intersectional nature of identity and experience; 7) Right to inclusive education; 8) Right to justice and freedom from denial of legal and decision-making capacity. Copyright WWDA April 2015.


Women With Disabilities Australia: ‘Preventing Violence against Women and Girls with Disabilities: Integrating A Human Rights Perspective’. By Carolyn Frohmader (WWDA), Associate Professor Leanne Dowse (UNSW) and Dr Aminath Didi (UNSW) (January 2015) [PDF] [Word]

Current policies and discourses around addressing and preventing violence against women in Australia have locked us into a particular way of conceptualising violence against women, which falls short in encompassing the key experiences of many women and girls with disabilities. These experiences have been recognised internationally as a central concern, where attention to the nature and scope of gendered disability violence has been integral to the violence prevention agenda. Current efforts in Australia have less successfully tackled this key intersectional issue, where the agenda is characterised by inadequate conceptualisation and recognition of, and response to, the needs and rights of women and girls with disabilities who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing violence. This paper articulates the imperative of a comprehensive human rights perspective and approach to the prevention of violence against women. This approach recognises and demonstrates that responses to violence against women cannot be considered in isolation from the context of individuals, households, settings, communities or States. It recognises that discrimination affects women in different ways depending on how they are positioned within the social, economic and cultural hierarchies that prohibit or further compromise certain women’s ability to enjoy universal human rights. This paper argues that without a grounding in a comprehensive human rights frame, current approaches to violence prevention run the risk of reinscribing the marginalisation of gendered disability violence, resulting in the inadvertent perpetuation of the systemic violence and abuse experienced by women with disabilities in a wide range of settings. Copyright 2015.


Women With Disabilities Australia: ‘Submission to the United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT)’ (September 2014) [PDF] [Word]

The United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT) will meet in Geneva in November 2014 for its 53rd session. During the session, the CAT Committee will review Australia’s 4th and 5th periodic reports on the implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In 2013, Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) provided the CAT Committee with documentation to help inform its Review of Australia. In September 2014, WWDA provided the CAT Committee with a Submission providing an update on escalating and urgent human rights violations, which WWDA has asked the Committee to consider in the context of Australia’s review. WWDA’s brief Submission addresses: violence against people with disabilities in institutional and residential settings (particularly sexual violence perpetrated against disabled women and girls); Forced/Involuntary sterilisation of women and girls with disabilities; and, Forced/Involuntary Electroshock (ECT) of women and girls with disabilities. Copyright WWDA 2014.

Note: WWDA’s Submission was provided to the CAT Committee with two attachments:

DPP v Kumar [November 2013] [PDF] [Word]

Frohmader, C. (2013) ‘Dehumanised: The Forced Sterilisation of Women and Girls with Disabilities in Australia’ [Submission PDF] [Submission Appendices PDF]  [Submission and Appendices Word]


Women With Disabilities Australia: ‘Gender Blind, Gender Neutral: The effectiveness of the National Disability Strategy in improving the lives of women and girls with disabilities’ (May 2014)   [PDF] [Word]

The National Disability Strategy (NDS) is the national policy framework to guide Australian governments to meet their obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which entered into force in Australia in 2008. The NDS is a ten-year Strategy that was formally endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2011. Under the NDS, a high-level Progress Report will be submitted to the COAG every two years. The first of these is due in late 2014. This Submission from WWDA to the COAG, assesses whether, if and how the NDS is promoting, protecting, respecting and fulfilling the human rights of women and girls with disabilities in Australia. Importantly, this assessment from WWDA includes the provision of a critical analysis of where the NDS appears to be failing women and girls with disabilities. This Submission from WWDA is critically important given that to date, despite Australia’s international human rights obligations in relation to gender equality – all aspects of the NDS are un-gendered. WWDA’s Submission sends a strong and urgent message to all Governments that public policy which treats people with disabilities as a homogenous group only serves to perpetuate the stereotype of people with disabilities as asexual, genderless human beings, and gives rise to a policy, program and service vacuum whereby the human rights of women and girls with disabilities remain violated, denied, ignored and trivialized. WWDA’s Submission demonstrates the vital importance of gender as a central consideration in the development of legislation, policy and programs to advance gender equality and to promote the human the rights of women and girls with disabilities. It also includes, for the consideration of COAG, key areas for future directions in order to strengthen the NDS as a mechanism to advance the human rights of women and girls with disabilities. This includes ensuring the NDS provides gender specific measures and women-specific initiatives, programs and projects in order to address the undisputed gender inequalities and ultimately, to achieve the NDS vision of ‘an inclusive Australian society that enables people with disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens’. Copyright WWDA April 2014.


Women With Disabilities Australia: ‘Building on the Millennium Development Goals for Women and Girls with Disabilities – A Long Way to Go’. By Carolyn Frohmader and Margie Charlesworth (March 2014) [PDF] [Word]

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. Every year, representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide. The theme for the 2014 CSW 58th session is ‘Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls’. WWDA member and past Vice President Margie Charlesworth is representing WWDA at the 58th session of CSW in New York from 10 to 21 March 2014. Margie is participating in a number of events, including a Parallel Event entitled ‘Disability and Inclusion’. This document is a copy of the presentation Margie will be giving at the Parallel Event. This brief presentation highlights some of the key shortcomings of the MDG’s as they relate to women and girls with disabilities. It also canvasses the main principles that women with disabilities argue must be embedded in the Post 15 Development Agenda, in order to ensure that the new global development framework is inclusive of, and responsive to, women and girls with disabilities all over world. Copyright WWDA 2013.


Women With Disabilities Australia: ‘Mid Term Progress Report for the Disability Employment Services (DES) Consumer Engagement Project’ (February 2014) [PDF] [Word]

In July 2013, the then Minister for Employment Participation, Hon Kate Ellis, advised Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) that the Australian Government would be providing a small, one-off funding grant to a number of national disability organisations, including WWDA, to assist in improving the delivery of Disability Employment Services (DES). The specific purpose of the one of funding grant is to lift consumer engagement and knowledge of the DES program, facilitate provision of consumer advice to the Government about the needs of women with disabilities in the context of the DES, and look at ways to improve future disability employment services. This mid-term progress Report from WWDA details work undertaken on the Project to 31 January 2014. In the context of WWDA’s human rights based approach, WWDA’s report not only provides information on specific activities and deliverables of the Project, but highlights a range of key systemic advocacy and public policy themes that WWDA has identified during the Project to date. Furthermore, the Report includes information on systemic advocacy initiatives undertaken by WWDA in response to those issues and themes identified.


Women With Disabilities Australia: ‘Submission to the National Inquiry into Equal Recognition Before the Law and Legal Capacity for People With Disability’ (January 2014)   [PDF]  [Word]

This national Inquiry was announced by the Australian Government in July 2013. The Inquiry, being undertaken by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) will examine laws and legal frameworks within the Commonwealth jurisdiction that deny or diminish the equal recognition of people with disability as persons before the law and their ability to exercise legal capacity, and consider what, if any, changes could be made to Commonwealth laws and legal frameworks to address these matters. The ALRC’s final report is due in August 2014. This document is WWDA’s formal Submission to the National Inquiry into Equal Recognition Before the Law and Legal Capacity for People With Disability. WWDA’s Submission examines six key priority areas for women with disabilities that are considered crucial in the context of the National Inquiry. These six areas are: 1)  Gendering the National Inquiry into Equal Recognition Before the Law and Legal Capacity for People With Disability;  2)  Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Freedoms;  3) The Right to Freedom from Violence, Abuse, Exploitation and Neglect;  4)  The Right to Found and Maintain a Family;  5)  The Right to Work; and,  6) The Right to Participate in Political and Public life.  Copyright WWDA January 2014.


Women With Disabilities Australia: ‘Stop the Violence Project: Report of the Proceedings and Outcomes of the National Symposium on Violence against Women and Girls with Disabilities’. (December 2013) [PDF] [Word]

The one-day National Symposium on Violence against Women and Girls with Disabilities was held at the Australian Human Rights Commission, Sydney on Friday 25 October 2013. The National Symposium was part of the activities of the Stop the Violence Project (STVP) funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services and implemented by Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA). The purpose of the National Symposium was to engage high-level stakeholders and decision-makers to address issues of violence against women and girls with disabilities in Australia in order to develop measures for longer term sustainability for change relating to the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, 2010-2022. The National Symposium sought to foster collaborative approaches to policy development by strengthening cross-sector relationships and leadership for sustaining change in the identification and implementation of better practice models to prevent violence against women and girls with disabilities. The National Symposium consisted of two plenary and panel discussion sessions followed by eight simultaneous working group discussions which addressed key emerging issues and mechanisms for directing good policy and practice emerging from the project followed by presentations and discussions at a plenary session. Copyright 2013.


Women With Disabilities Australia: ‘Stop the Violence: Addressing Violence Against Women and Girls with Disabilities in Australia – Background Paper’. Prepared by Leanne Dowse, Karen Soldatic, Aminath Did, Carolyn Frohmader and Georgia van Toorn (October 2013) [PDF] [Word]

The Stop the Violence Project (STVP) emerges from WWDA’s long standing commitment to addressing one of the most pressing issues for our membership: violence against women and girls with disabilities in Australia. Managed and implemented by WWDA, in conjunction with a research team at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and a project team from People with Disabilities Australia (PWDA), the project is national in scope and is intended to lay the groundwork for improved service provision by building the evidence-base for future reforms so that the service system is more responsive to the needs of women and girls with disabilities. The immediate objective of the project is to investigate and promote ways to support better practice and evidence-based service system improvements to prevent violence and, improve access to, and responses of, governments and services for women and girls with disabilities experiencing, or at risk of violence. The Stop the Violence Project (STVP) forms one of the Commonwealth Government’s projects that address two key immediate national initiatives specifically focussed on women and girls with disabilities, as outlined in the First Action Plan of the Government’s 12 year National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022 (the National Plan). This Background Report presents outcomes of an evidence-building project, providing in-depth material to support the Stop the Violence Project. This background Report provides information on the the project context, activities and outcomes, highlighting six key issues and their implications that are considered a priority in addressing reform in the area of violence against women and girls with disabilities. The Background Report was used to inform deliberations at the National Symposium on Violence against Women and Girls with Disabilities conducted in Sydney in October 2013. Copyright 2013.


Women With Disabilities Australia: ‘Report from the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) 10th Session – Review of Australia’ – By Carolyn Frohmader (October 2013) [PDF] [Word]

In August 2013, WWDA Executive Director Carolyn Frohmader, was selected as a member of the six person ‘Australian Civil Society Parallel Report Group Delegation’ to represent the views of people with disabilities in Australia to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities during its formal review of Australia’s compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The Review took place during the CRPD Committee’s 10th Session in Geneva, 2-13 September 2013. Carolyn spent a week at the United Nations in Geneva, working with the CRPD Committee as a member of the Civil Society Parallel Report Group, as well as participating in a number of other events during the week. During her time in Geneva, Carolyn was also able to take up a range of opportunities to meet with several key stakeholders to specifically focus on WWDA’s work and also to provide advice and expertise on issues concerning women and girls with disabilities. This Report has been prepared by Carolyn to highlight her work and experiences during her time in Geneva. Copyright October 2013.


Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) and Women Enabled: ‘The Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Women and Girls with Disabilities’ – By Carolyn Frohmader and Stephanie Ortoleva (July 2013) [PDF] [Word]

This Paper was written by WWDA’s Executive Director (Carolyn Frohmader) and the President of Women Enabled (Stephanie Ortoleva) for the ICPD Beyond 2014 International Conference on Human Rights held at the Hague, Netherlands from 7 – 10 July 2013. The Conference was part of the United Nations (UN) mandated review of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action. The Conference was hosted by the Government of The Netherlands, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). It focused on the nexus between human rights, equality, accountability and population and development, with a focus on gender, discrimination, empowerment and sexual and reproduction health and rights. Carolyn Frohmader participated on the International Reference Committee for the Conference, providing technical advice, assisting with the development of the Conference Program, and advocating strongly for women with disabilities to be included on the invitation only participant list, and to be included in all Conference deliberations and outcome documents. This Paper ‘The Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Women and Girls with Disabilities’, was commissioned by the Conference organisers to inform this work. Copyright July 2013.


UNICEF: The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities (May 2013) [PDF]

This edition of The State of the World’s Children includes contributions by young people and parents who show that, when given that chance, children with disabilities are more than capable of overcoming barriers to their inclusion, of taking their rightful place as equal participants in society and of enriching the life of their communities. But for far too many children with disabilities, the opportunity to participate simply does not exist. Far too often, children with disabilities are among the last in line for resources and services, especially where these are scarce to begin with. Far too regularly, they are the objects simply of pity or, worse,discrimination and abuse. Former WWDA President and life member of WWDA, Profesor Helen Meekosha, was a member of the editorial and research team responsible for compiling the report. WWDA’s work is also referenced in the Report. Copyright UNICEF 2013.


Women With Disabilities Australia: ‘Dehumanised: The Forced Sterilisation of Women and Girls with Disabilities in Australia’ – WWDA Submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Involuntary or Coerced Sterilisation of People with Disabilities in Australia (March 2013)

[Full Submission PDF] [Full Submission Appendices PDF] [Full Submission Word] [Summary & Recommendations PDF] [Summary & Recommendations Word]

The Senate Inquiry into Involuntary or Coerced Sterilisation of People with Disabilities in Australia commenced in late 2012 and Submissions to the Inquiry closed in early March 2013. The Senate will report on the Inquiry by June 2013. WWDA’s Submission to the Inquiry establishes beyond doubt, that forced and coerced sterilisation of women and girls with disabilities is an internationally recognised form of torture – an inhuman practice which violates multiple human rights, and clearly breaches every international human rights treaty to which Australia is a party. WWDA’s Submission addresses the issue of forced and coerced sterilisation in detail. It examines the background to, and the status of the issue in Australia today, and examines the rationale used to justify the forced sterilisation of disabled women and girls, including themes such as eugenics/genetics; for the good of the State, community or family; incapacity for parenthood; incapacity to develop and evolve; prevention of sexual abuse; and discourses around “best interest”. WWDA’s Submission analyses Australian Court and Tribunal applications and authorisations for sterilisation of disabled women and girls, and demonstrates that the Australian Government’s current justification of the “best interest approach” in the sterilisation of disabled women and girls, has in effect, been used to perpetuate discriminatory attitudes against women and girls with disabilities, and has only served to facilitate the practice of forced sterilisation. The impact of forced sterilisation on women and girls with disabilities is also highlighted in WWDA’s Submission, and reaffirms, through the voices of those affected, that forced and coerced sterilisation has long-lasting physical, psychological and social effects. WWDA’s Submission looks in detail at forced and coerced sterilisation as a violation of human rights and provides an analysis of how the practice contravenes every international human rights treaty to which Australia is a party. Several recent and current legal cases are used to highlight that the issue of forced and coerced sterilisation of women and girls is increasingly being recognised in Courts around the world, as a violation of women’s fundamental human rights. Importantly, WWDA’s Submission also examines redress and transitional justice for women and girls with disabilities who have been sterilised in the absence of their fully informed and free consent. WWDA’s Submission includes 18 Key Recommendations, covering areas such as legislative reforms; transitional justice and redress, (including financial reparation, rehabilitation and recovery); research; informed consent; parenting; violence prevention; supportive decision-making; mechanisms to enable participation of women and girls with disabilities in decision-making; and more. ISBN: 978-0-9876035-0-0. Copyright WWDA March 2013.


Women With Disabilities Australia: Submission to the CRPD Committee 9th Session Half Day of General Discussion on Women and Girls with Disabilities (February 2013) [PDF] [Word]

The Committee on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD) meets from 15th – 19th April 2013 for its ninth session. As part of the ninth session, the CRPD Committee is holding a half day General Discussion on Women and Girls with Disabilities. The CRPD Committee invited WWDA to provide a Submission to inform the half day General Discussion on Women and Girls with Disabilities.This is a copy of WWDA’s Submission. It provides an analysis of key issues for women and girls with disabilities in Australia, in the context of key articles within the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD). Copyright WWDA February 2013.


Women With Disabilities Australia: Policy Paper: ‘Assessing the situation of women with disabilities in Australia: A human rights approach'(July 2011) [PDF] [Word]

This Paper uses a human rights framework to document the range of data, research and information needed in order to give a comprehensive assessment of the situation of women with disabilities in Australia. The paper provides the context for this work by giving an overview of the intersection of gender and disability, as well as a brief background to the human rights imperative. Using key articles from the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the paper then prescribes the key quantitative and qualitative data and research required under each article, and links this to Australia’s international human rights obligations and domestic policy context. Copyright WWDA July 2011.


Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) and Women With Disabilities Victoria: ‘Joint Submission to Productivity Commission’s Draft Report National Disability Care and Support Inquiry'(May 2011) [PDF] [Word]

The emphasis for this joint Submission from WWDA and Women With Disabilities Victoria is how to ensure lived experiences which arise from gender, with attention to the perspective of women and girls in particular, are considered in the development of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and addressed in its implementation. The Submission addresses a number of issues of specific interest to women with disabilities, including for example: Sexuality, Parenting and Reproductive Rights; Health and wellbeing; Employment; and, Safety and violence. The Submission includes a number of case studies to highlight and give a context to the issues raised, and contains a number of specific recommendations. Copyright WWDA May 2011.