Senate Inquiry into Involuntary and Coerced Sterilisation of People with Disabilities in Austraila (September 2012 – April 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.


Submissions Made to the Senate Inquiry into the Involuntary or Coerced Sterilisation of People with Disabilities in Australia

Formal submissions to the Senate Inquiry into the Involuntary or Coerced Sterilisation of People with Disabilities in Australia are available here. Several contributors elected to provide Submissions anonymously.


Queenslanders With Disability Network and Women With Disabilities Australia: Invitation Flyer (January 2013) [PDF Version] [Word Version]

Invitation Flyer for women with disabilities in Brisbane to attend two meetings to enable them to have their say in the Sterilisation Inquiry. Copyright January 2013.


Women With Disabilities Australia: Sterilisation of Women and Girls with Disabilities – An update on the issue in Australia (December 2012) [PDF Version] [Word Version]

For more than twenty years, women with disabilities and their allies have been asking successive Australian Governments to show national leadership and undertake reforms to address the forced sterilisation of women and girls with disabilities, and to develop policies and programs that enable disabled women and girls to realise their human rights on an equal basis as others. This brief Paper provides an overview of the issue of sterilisation of women and girls with disabilities in Australia. It provides information on the Australian Government’s response to the issue over the past two decades and looks at the issue in the context of Australia’s international and domestic human rights obligations. Copyright WWDA December 2012.


Senate Inquiry Terms of Reference (September 2012) [PDF Version] [Word Version] [Easy English PDF Version] [Easy English Word Version]

On 20 September 2012 the Senate referred the following matter to the Senate Community Affairs Committee for inquiry and report by 24 April 2013: The involuntary or coerced sterilisation of people with disabilities in Australia. This document provides the Terms of Referece for the Inquiry and information about how to make a Submission to the Inquiry.