Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA): Leadership & Mentoring Workshop Project – Final Report



In late 1999, WWDA applied to the then Commonwealth Office of the Status of Women (OSW) for project funding to undertake a National Leadership and Mentoring Workshop for women with disabilities. The application for funding was successful and the project commenced in January 2000. This report is the Final Report to the Commonwealth Office of the Status of Women (OSW) on the Project. Copyright WWDA 2000.


Contents

Introduction Section 1: Background to the Project Section 2: Project Planning Section 3: Project Implementation Section 4: Project Evaluation Section 5: Project Expenditure Appendix 1: Workshop Flier/Expression of Interest Form Appendix 2: Workshop Application Forms Appendix 3: Leadership & Mentoring Workshop Planning and Organising Appendix 4: Leadership & Mentoring Workshop Participants Database Appendix 5: “Celebrating Our Abilities” Dinner Function Appendix 6: The Leadership & Mentoring Workshop Program Appendix 7: Evaluation Form


Introduction

Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) is the peak organisation for women with all types of disabilities in Australia. It is a federating body of individuals and networks in each State and Territory of Australia and is made up of women with disabilities and associated organisations. The national secretariat is located in Tasmania, the island State of Australia. WWDA is run by women with disabilities, for women with disabilities. It is the only organisation of its kind in Australia and one of only a very small number internationally. WWDA is inclusive and does not discriminate against any disability. WWDA seeks to ensure opportunities in all walks of life for all women with disabilities. In this it aims to increase awareness of, and address issues faced by, women with disabilities in the community. WWDA seeks to ensure the advancement of education of society to the status and needs of women with disabilities in order to promote equity, reduce suffering, poverty, discrimination and exploitation of women with disabilities. WWDA is unique, in that it operates as a national disability organisation; a national women’s organisation; and a national human rights organisation.

WWDA addresses disability within a social model, which identifies the barriers and restrictions facing women with disabilities as the focus for reform.

The aim of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) is to be a national voice for the needs and rights of women with disabilities and a national force to improve the lives and life chances of women with disabilities. The objectives of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) are:

  • to actively promote the participation of women with disabilities in all aspects of social, economic, political and cultural life;
  • to advocate on issues of concern to women with disabilities in Australia; and
  • to seek to be the national representative organisation for women with disabilities in Australia by: undertaking systemic advocacy; providing policy advice; undertaking research; and providing support, information and education.

In late 1999, WWDA applied to the Commonwealth Office of the Status of Women (OSW) for project funding to undertake a National Leadership and Mentoring Workshop for Women With Disabilities. The application for funding was successful and WWDA was allocated $25,000 to conduct the Project. The first grant payment arrived in late January 2000 and the project commenced shortly after.

This report is the Final Report to the Commonwealth Office of the Status of Women (OSW) on the Project. The Report is written in five sections: Background to the Project; Project Planning; Project Implementation, Project Evaluation, and Project Expenditure. A number of appendices and attachments are provided with this Report.


Section 1: Background to the Project

Leadership is a major issue for women with disabilities in Australia. Lack of training opportunities, employment and education mean that women with disabilities have few chances to develop leadership skills. In most states of Australia, access to higher education and training for women with disabilities is limited. At the International Leadership Forum for Women With Disabilities held in Washington USA in 1997, more than 600 women from 80 countries and territories attended, and participated in research about Leadership. They identified their leadership training needs to be around skills development, having women centred groups, and having practical information, tools and resources. They identified the need for information and training in a range of specific areas to assist in leadership development. Some of these areas included:

  • Mentoring – how to run a mentoring and peer support program and more information on materials and role models featuring adult women and girls with disabilities;
  • Communication – how to speak in public, how to work in groups, interpersonal communication skills and multi-media communication techniques such as the Internet;
  • Training about non-profit organisations, including organisational group development and how to write proposals to generate support for projects;
  • Training about specific topics important to women with disabilities such as self-esteem, parenting, technology use, reproduction issues, self-care, and nutrition.

Ms Vicky Toovey, a WWDA member who attended the forum states:

“Women with disabilities have often had less access to education, health, rehabilitation and employment and their opportunities to take up leadership roles have been severely restricted…[We] need to support women with disabilities to gain leadership positions in all walks of life. This means that we do not solely focus our attention on disability issues but take a more holistic view.”

Research undertaken by WWDA in consultations with members has supported the findings from the International Leadership Forum for Women With Disabilities held in Washington USA in 1997. WWDA members have cited their lack of confidence and skills as a major barrier to them taking up leadership roles both within the organisation and more broadly in their own families and communities.

In late 1997 WWDA was successful in securing funding from the Global Fund for Women (USA) to develop a Leadership and Mentoring Resource Kit for Women With Disabilities. The proposal for a National Leadership and Mentoring Training Workshop for Women With Disabilities aimed to see WWDA build on this work by training women with disabilities in Leadership & Mentoring skills using the Kit. It was envisaged that the women participating in the Workshop would then be able to implement the Leadership and Mentoring Resource Kit with other women with disabilities in their States, Territories and local communities.

Enabling women with disabilities to acquire new knowledge and skills, and by providing them with opportunities for self-development and increased confidence, is one way WWDA can work towards achieving equality for women with disabilities in Australia.

1.1. Project Objectives