Papers, Articles, Reports & Submissions 1995 – 2000


‘Sterilisation of Women and Young Girls with an Intellectual Disability – Report to the Senate’, Tabled by the Minister for Family and Community Services (December 2000)

This Report was prepared and written by the Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services in response to a Senate Resolution passed in March 2000. The Report covers the background to the issue of sterilisation of women with disabilities, provides recent statistics on sterilisation procedures, and details a cross-Departmental response to the Senate’s calls for a review of legal, ethical and human rights mechanisms and the commissioning of research. It has been compiled as a result of a collaboration between staff of the Departments of Family and Community Services and Health and Aged Care, the Attorney-Generals Department and the Office of the Status of Women in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Copyright 2000.


‘Sterilisation of Women and Girls with Disabilities’- A Literature Review by Cathie Spicer (1999)

This paper examines the and analyses the literature available on the issue of sterilisation of girls and women with disabilities. In doing research on the topic of non-therapeutic sterilisation of women and girls with an intellectual disability, the author discovered numerous medical, legal and academic sources but very little from the people who are subjected to this form of invasive and often irreversible surgical intervention. The paper poses some challenging questions in relation to the ongoing practice of unlawful sterilisation of minors in Australia. Copyright 1999.


Women With Disabilities Australia: WWDA Presentation to the First Australian Tribunal on Women’s Human Rights – by Vicky Toovey (1999)

On May 21 1999, the Women’s Rights Action Network held the First Australian Tribunal on Women’s Human Rights. At the Tribunal, 12 women living in Australia testified about their experiences, with testimonies being presented on a number of issues. Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) was represented at the First Australian Tribunal on Women’s Human Rights by the President of WWDA, Ms Vicki Toovey, who presented case studies on the sterilisation of women and girls with disabilities. This paper provides a transcript of the presentation. Copyright WWDA 1999.


‘The Sterilisation of Girls and Young Women in Australia – A Legal, Medical and Social Context’ by Susan M Brady and Dr Sonia Grover (1997)

This report was commissioned by the Federal Disability Discrimination Commissioner for the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in December 1997. This report concentrates on the sterilisation of girls and young women. Sterilisation procedures are performed on girls with intellectual disabilities and all cases that have come to the attention of relevant authorities (including the Family Court of Australia, state Supreme Courts, and state Guardianship Tribunals) have involved the sterilisation of girls with intellectual disabilities. This is not to say that boys with intellectual disabilities are not subject to sterilisation procedures. The report poses a range of unanswered and grave questions about the fundamental breach of human rights and well-being of children subject to unauthorised sterilisation procedures. It suggests that a genuine concern for protection of the child’s best interests should be about a broader advocacy of the child’s interests not simply the narrow legal questions of who should make the decisions and how they should be made. The report suggests that fundamental to the success of protecting and ensuring best interests is the support and cooperation of a broader community of medical practitioners, human service providers, specialist consultants in disability, advocates and others. Any weak link will compromise positive outcomes for the child. Copyright 1997.


‘Female and Disabled: A Human Rights Perspective on Law and Medicine’ – by M. Jones and L. Marks (1997)

This is an extract from Jones M & Marks LAB “Female and Disabled: A Human Rights Perspective on Law and Medicine” in Petersen K (eds) Intersections: Women on Law, Medicine and Technology Dartmouth 1997, p49-71. The chapter analyses the issue of sterilisation of women and girls with disabilities. Reproduced here with permission of the authors. Copyright 1997.


On The Record – A Report on the 1990 STAR Conference on Sterilisation: ‘My Body, My Mind, My Choice’ (1991)

A Report from the STAR Conference on Sterilisation, conducted in Victoria in 1990. The report focuses mainly on the issue of sterilisation as it relates to women with intellectual disabilities. The Report covers a range of topic areas, including health and legal issues. A number of recommendations are included in the report. Copyright 1991.