Papers, Articles, Reports & Submissions 2011 – 2015
Women With Disabilities Australia: Webinar: Understanding Violence Against Women with Disabilities (October 2015)
WWDA presented a webinar on the topic of violence against women with disabilities. The webinar was convened by 1800RESPECT – Australia’s National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service. Entitled ‘Understanding Violence Against Women With Disability’, the presentation and discussion provided an overview of the scope and prevalence of violence against women with disability, violence against women with disability in a human rights framework, barriers to addressing violence for women with disability and how we can best address the issues around gendered disability violence. The webinar was written by Carolyn Frohmader (WWDA Executive Director) and Sam Connor (WWDA Policy Director) and presented by Sam on behalf of WWDA.
For further information:
Human Rights Watch: ‘What to do if someone hurts you or does bad things to you: Information about Gender-Based Violence for People with Disabilities’ (March 2015) [PDF Only]
Women and girls with disabilities are too often the victims of violence, yet get too little information on where to go for help. Information on gender-based violence needs to reach the people who need it most, especially women and girls with disabilities. This resource, produced in easy to read language was developed by Human Rights Watch in collaboration with disabled persons’ organisations (DPOs) and gender-based violence service providers. The resource shows how to recognise, prevent, and protect against gender-based violence, including by distinguishing between “good” and “bad” touch, and explains how to seek legal, medical, and psychosocial support.
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.
National Campaign to End Violence and Abuse against People with Disability in Residential and Institutional Settings: ‘Letter to the Australian Prime Minister, Hon. Tony Abbott’ (January 2015)
For more than a decade, Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs), civil society organisations (CSOs); the United Nations, people with disability themselves, their families, allies, friends and advocates, have implored successive Australian Governments to act to ‘address and investigate, without delay, violence, exploitation and abuse experienced by people with disability, particularly women and girls with disability, in institutional and residential settings’. Yet these calls and recommendations have been ignored. Our leaders have failed to act, and in their apathy and indifference, have failed people with disability in institutional and residential settings, who continue to experience the most appalling violations of their most fundamental human rights.
As part of a national campaign to address violence and abuse experienced by people with disability in institutional and residential settings, a coalition of national organisations of and for people with disability, have written formally to the Australian Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott, requesting his strong leadership and action to urgently establish an independent National Inquiry into violence and abuse perpetrated against people with disability in institutional and residential settings in Australia. This letter has been endorsed by more than 95 national and State/Territory based organisations from all around Australia.
More information on the National Campaign to End Violence and Abuse against People with Disability in Residential and Institutional Settings is available at: http://www.nationaldisabilityabuseinquiry.com/
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:
Describing violence against women in Australia as ‘a national tragedy’, the Australian Greens proposal for a Senate Inquiry into Domestic Violence passed the Senate with tri-partisan support on 26th June 2014, and was subsequently referred to the Australian Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee for inquiry and report by the 27 October 2014. This joint Submission to the ‘Senate Inquiry into Domestic Violence in Australia’, has been written by Carolyn Frohmader (Women With Disabilities Australia) with contribution from Jess Cadwallader (People With Disability Australia) for and on behalf of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA); First People’s Disability Network Australia (FPDNA); People with Disability Australia (PWDA); Children with Disability Australia (CDA); and the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA). The Submission addresses the terms of reference for the Senate Inquiry, and examines: a) the prevalence and impact of domestic violence; b) factors contributing to the levels of domestic violence; c) the adequacy of policy and community responses to domestic violence; d) the effects of policy decisions on the ability of people with disability to escape domestic violence; and, e) how the Federal Government can eliminate violence against women. The Submission includes twelve recommendations, including for example, the urgent need for the Australian Government to commission and fund a National Public Inquiry into Violence Against People with Disability in Institutions, with a specific focus on the gendered nature of such violence, and the multiple forms of violence perpetrated against people with disability in such settings. Copyright September 2014.
Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law – Anti-Torture Initiative: ‘Torture in Healthcare Settings: Reflections on the Special Rapporteur on Torture’s 2013 Thematic Report’ (2014) [PDF Only – Large File]
Torture in Healthcare Settings: Reflections on the Special Rapporteur on Torture’s 2013 Thematic Report brings together contributions by more than thirty international experts in response to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez’s provocative thematic report on torture and other abusive practices in healthcare settings. Each piece in this unique volume provides novel insights into essential topics and pressing issues at the forefront of the intersecting medical, legal, and policy fields. The questions raised by the Special Rapporteur’s report and the array of innovative perspectives offered in response by each contributing author illustrate a profound commitment to tackling the challenges that continue to arise in promoting and protecting the human rights of persons in diverse healthcare settings globally.
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 (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.
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)
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.
The sexual abuse of girls and women with disabilities, particularly of those in institutions, continues in a culture of silence, invisibility and apathy. This document is WWDA’s brief Submission to the Australian Government in response to its invitation to comment on its Consultation Paper on the Establishment of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Given the short time frame for responses to the Consultation Paper [7 days], WWDA has taken this opportunity to highlight some key points for consideration in setting the scope and function of the Royal Commission. Copyright WWDA November 2012.
Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC): ‘Zero Tolerance for Sexual Assault – A Safe Admission for Women’ (2012) [PDF]
The documented history of the sexual harassment and sexual assault of female in-patients in Victorian psychiatric wards prompted the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC) to undertake a survey into current female in-patient experiences. This 12 month project included literature research, survey development and administration, focus groups, individual consultations, data analysis and Advisory Committee participation across the year. Data was gathered from 9 Area Mental Health Services (AMHS) across the State, providing a snapshot of current Victorian psychiatric admission experiences for women. This is the Report of the Project.
The purpose of this Discussion Paper, released by Attorney General Nicola Roxon and Acting Minister for Families Brendan O’Connor, is to seek the input of interested individuals and organisations to the arrangements for the establishment of the Royal Commission, including the scope of the Terms of Reference, the form of the Royal Commission, the number and qualifications of Royal Commissioner/s and the reporting timetable for the Royal Commission. These factors will guide the Commissioner/s in their task of examining responses to instances or allegations of child sexual abuse in the context of public and private institutions or organisations in Australia.
United Nations General Assembly: Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its Causes and Consequences [Ms Rashida Manjoo]: Report on Violence Against Women With Disabilities (August 2012) [PDF] [Word]
This Report is the second submitted by the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, to the General Assembly, pursuant to resolution 65/187. The report provides an overview of the activities of the Special Rapporteur and discusses the issue of violence against women with disabilities. The present report aims to deepen the findings of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Thematic Study on the Issue of Violence Against Women and Girls and Disability (A/HRC/20/5) (see below) and further examine the manifestations, causes and consequences of violence against women with disabilities. In addition, the report briefly examines relevant international and regional legal frameworks and provides recommendations.
United Nations General Assembly: Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: Thematic study on the issue of violence against women and girls and disability (March 2012) [PDF] [Word]
This study, submitted pursuant to paragraph 11 of Human Rights Council resolution 17/11, examines the causes and manifestations of violence against women and girls with disabilities. It analyses national legislation, policies and programmes for the protection and prevention of violence against women and girls with disabilities. It highlights the remaining challenges in addressing the root causes of violence against women and girls with disabilities and incorporating women and girls with disabilities into gender-based violence programmes. The study concludes with recommendations on legislative, administrative, policy and programmatic measures to address violence against women and girls with disabilities, with emphasis on the need for a holistic approach aimed at eliminating discrimination against women and girls with disabilities, promoting their autonomy and addressing specific risk factors that expose them to violence.
Women With Disabilities Australia: Policy Paper to the Australian Government on Violence Against Women and Girls with Disabilities (June 2012) [Summary & Recommendations PDF] [Summary & Recommendations Word]
In late 2011, Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) was invited by the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, to provide a Submission to the preparation phase of the United Nations Thematic Study on Violence Against Women With Disabilities (A/HRC/RES/17/11). WWDA’s Submission to this global UN study, was published in late December 2011 and aims to provide an overview of the legislation, regulatory frameworks, policy, administrative procedures, services and support available within Australia to prevent and address violence against women and girls with disabilities. See: [PDF] [Word] [Text Only/Large Print]
Given the extensive amount of work WWDA undertook to develop the Submission to the United Nations, WWDA used this key piece of work to form the basis of a Policy Paper to the Australian Government on Violence Against Women and Girls with Disabilities. This Policy Paper summarised the key themes in our Submission to the UN, and included a series of recommendations. There are six major recommendations, and a number of more general recommendations for consideration by Australian Governments, in particular the Australian Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), and the Attorney-General’s Department, which are the Australian Government’s principal sources of advice on social policy, and law and justice respectively.Copyright WWDA June 2012.
In mid June 2011, at its 17th session, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a Resolution to accelerate efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women. The Resolution called for a study to be conducted on the issue of violence against women and girls and disabilities, with the report of the study to be presented to the 20th session of the Human Rights Council in 2012. WWDA’s Submission to the preparation phase of the UN Analytical Study on Violence Against Women and Girls with Disabilities, provides an overview of the legislation, regulatory frameworks, policy, administrative procedures, services and support available within Australia to prevent and address violence against women and girls with disabilities. It provides detailed information under the following themes: data and statistics; legislation and policies; prevention and protection; prosecution and punishment, and recovery, rehabilitation and social integration. Copyright WWDA December 2011.
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.