Papers, Articles, Reports & Submissions 2006 – 2010


Women With Disabilities Australia: ‘Women With Disabilities and The Human Right to Health: A Policy Paper’ (May 2010) [PDF] [Word]

Members of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), have identified the right to the highest attainable standard of health as a priority issue of concern. In keeping with WWDA’s systemic advocacy work to create greater awareness among governments and other relevant institutions of their obligations to fulfil, respect, protect and promote the human rights of women with disabilities, WWDA’s Policy Paper examines what is meant by women with disabilities right to health. It places this fundamental human right in the context of Australia’s obligations under three of the key human rights conventions it has ratified: the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The Paper highlights the ways in which women and girls with disabilities in Australia are denied the freedoms and entitlements necessary for the realisation of their right to health. It then provides an overview of a range of key policy initiatives required to address the structural, socioeconomic and cultural barriers that currently deny women with disabilities their right to health. The paper includes key strategies for consideration by the Australian Government. Recognising that the right to health is dependent on the realisation of other human rights, and extends to the underlying determinants of health, the key strategies identified in WWDA’s paper address a broad range of themes, that cut across several government portfolios.Copyright WWDA May 2010.


‘Downward Spirals: disability and health costs as contributors to poverty and imagining ways forward’ – By Sue Salthouse (May 2010) [PDF]  [Word]  [Powerpoint]

This Paper was written and presented by Sue Salthouse for WWDA at the Australian Women’s Health Network Conference, Hobart, May 2010. Low socio-economic status has a profound affect on the health and wellbeing of individuals. As a society, there is a need to focus attention on this cohort and address its needs through appropriate funding and services. The manifold barriers which limit the full participation of women with disabilities in communities results in our gross over-representation in the lowest income quintile. The ‘fact’ of disability is not a health issue but largely a societal one. Taking into account the gender and disability discrimination, this paper examines the impact of low income on the health outcomes of women with disabilities. Women with disabilities need to be able to manage their complex health needs in a cost-effective ways. All these factors must be integrally incorporated into the proposed National Women’s Health Policy. Copyright WWDA May 2010.


‘Women With Disabilities and the Human Right to Health’ – By Carolyn Frohmader (May 2010) [PDF]  [Word]  [Powerpoint]

This Paper was written by Carolyn Frohmader and presented by Karin Swift for WWDA at the Australian Women’s Health Network Conference, Hobart, May 2010. The right to the highest attainable standard of health is a human right recognised in a number of international human rights treaties and instruments to which Australia is a party. However, this international commitment has had little bearing on improving the health of women and girls with disabilities in Australia – who continue to experience violation, denial and infringement of their fundamental right to health. Women with disabilities in Australia not only represent one of the groups with the highest risk of poor health, but experience many of the now recognised markers of social exclusion. They experience major inequalities in health status, and experience significant disadvantage in the social determinants of those inequalities. The denial and infringement of women with disabilities right to health can be seen in an array of human rights violations: they experience violence at higher rates than their non-disabled sisters, experience less control over what happens to their bodies, have less access to vital health care services, such as cervical and breast cancer screening and, face discrimination, societal prejudice and stigma when it comes to determining their reproductive rights. This paper examines what is meant by women with disabilities right to health. It places this fundamental human right in the context of Australia’s obligations under three of the key human rights conventions it has ratified: the Convention on the Rights of Person’s with Disabilities (CRPD), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The paper draws on the work of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) to highlight the ways in which women and girls with disabilities in Australia are denied the freedoms and entitlements necessary for the realisation of their right to health. It then provides an overview of a range of policy initiatives required to address the structural, socioeconomic and cultural barriers that currently deny women with disabilities from realising their right to health. Copyright WWDA May 2010.


Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), People With Disability Australia (PWDA), Physical Disability Council NSW (PDCN), and Council on the Ageing NSW (COTA): Submission to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) regarding the provision of Adjustable Height Examination Beds (November 2009) [PDF]   [Word]

For the past five years, Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) has led a campaign to have the provision of adjustable-height examination beds made mandatory in the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Standards for General Practices. WWDA has worked on this issue alongside People With Disability Australia (PWDA) and in more recent times, the Physical Disability Council NSW (PDCN), and Council on the Ageing NSW (COTA), have joined forces in this national effort. Support for the campaign has also been given by the Australian Human Rights Commission. In late 2009, WWDA, PWDA, PDCN and COTA (NSW) developed a joint Submission to the RACGP as part of the consultations for the Review of the RACGP Standards for General Practices. The Submission clearly articulated our long held position that the provision of adjustable-height examination beds be made a ‘flagged’ (mandatory) requirement in the RACGP Standards for General Practices. The collective Submission to the RACGP from WWDA, PWDA, PDCN and COTA (NSW) was finalised in late November and endorsed by more than 200 organisations and individuals. Copyright November 2009.


Women With Disabilities Australia: Submission to Inform the Development of the Framework for the new National Women’s Health Policy (NWHP) (August 2009)  [PDF]  [Word]

This paper is WWDA’s Submission to the Australian Government to inform the development of the Framework for the new National Women’s Health Policy (NWHP). WWDA’s Submission focuses predominantly on the Framework for the new NWHP, in the context of human rights and women with disabilities. It examines what is meant by the ‘right to health’ and looks at women with disabilities’ right to health under the relevant international human rights treaties to which Australia is a party. Giving consideration to Australia’s obligation to women with disabilities under these core human rights treaties, the denial of women with disabilities right to health is highlighted, demonstrating that successive Governments have failed in their obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of women with disabilities, and in doing so, have denied disabled women the freedoms and the entitlements for health. The Principles to underpin the new NWHP are addressed and the inequities experienced by women with disabilities in claiming their right to health are examined. Examples are given to illustrate these inequities in the areas of: the right to freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse; the right to bodily integrity; the right to found a family and to reproductive freedom; the right to health facilities, goods and services; the right to work; and, the right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate housing. The final section of WWDA’s Submission looks at priorities for the new NWHP and identifies (and provides rationale for) both priority groups and priority thematic issues that should be included in the new NWHP.