Conference Papers, Other Articles & Reports 1995 – 2000
‘Disability’ has become a term embedded in a number of competing discourses, each of which have an institutional determination – either formal or informal. The critical interface lies between medical, individualised and social discourses. The conflict at this interface is revealed in the struggle over human rights for and by people with disabilities. In 2000 a new national Action Plan on human rights is being devised by the Australian federal government, in an environment of governmental hostility to human rights and UN conventions. This paper explores the power relations of disability discourses through competing interpretations of interests and issues in the human rights field. Copyright.
Dr Kelley Johnson is a Research Fellow at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University. This article is based on a four year ethnographic study which is now published as ‘Deinstitutionalising Women: An Ethnographic Study of Institutional Closure’ (1998). Copyright.
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. 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. Copyright WWDA 2000.
This paper explores the literature in relation to women with disabilities and violence within the period 1990 to 1999. Specifically the paper explores: the meaning of disability from an individualised medical perspective and as a social construct; the extent and nature of violence against women with disabilities and barriers to service response; and feminist explanations of violence against women with disabilities. Copyright.
Jacqueline du Pre; died in October 1987 aged 42 years. She was the world’s leading cellist in the 1960s and early ’70s. In October 1972 at the age of 28 years she had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. This paper provides a discussion and analysis of the movie “Hiliary & Jackie”, a movie about the relationship between Jacqueline du Pre; and her sister Hiliary. Copyright.
A collection of writings addressing a wide range of issues affecting women with disabilities, including sexuality; health; housing, and many more. A number of poems are also included in this book. Copyright.
A personal account by Lina Pane-Hawkins, of being a NESB woman with a disability and how her parents coped with her falling in love and getting married. Copyright.
This 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.
Working in an area which is considered to be about something called “disability”, poses considerable challenges for any person who wishes to reflect upon the kinds of cultural and historical determinants which underwrite such a concept. Who or what has decided, and still decides, upon the allocation of one person to the ‘able’ category, and another to the ‘dis’ -abled category? Although we will claim that these simple terms have most often appeared as obscuring, and in denial of the complex nature and experience of any person, we will also consider them as powerful ideologies, influencing and informing who people think and feel they are or ever can be. Some people would suggest that we have neutral measurements and criteria which can objectively indicate ‘intelligence’, as quantifiable and as something ‘real’. Whether one believes or not, that intelligence testing measures anything at all, we must also ask if any kind of ‘evidence’ expresses something fundamental enough about a person, to confer upon them a totalising and representative label – like that of ‘normal’, or ‘genius’, or ‘disabled’. To unravel some of these ideas and questions, we will in this paper, focus upon the historical construction of the idea or concept of ‘intellectual disability’. We would like to stress however, that most versions and varieties of disability are not mutually exclusive and that the general idea of ‘disability’ as an homogenising label, (informing as powerfully as it reflects individual and social experience), is always implicated in our discussion. Likewise, the category of ‘woman’, as determined by particular and essential qualities, (regardless of whether these are understood as biological or cultural in nature), will be considered as often intertwined and enmeshed with concepts about ‘disability’. That these determinations and their combinations, are not accidental, arbitrary, natural or self-evident, but reflect particular social and political interests, is the central theme of this paper. Copyright.
This paper examines hate crimes perpetrated against people with disabilities. One of the authors major themes is that disabled people are often more vulnerable to abuse than non-disabled people. The author outlines some of the differences between hate crimes committed against people with disabilities and those committed against other members of the community. He explains why it is absolutely essential that disabled people share in the protection of hate crimes legislation and examine some ways of responding to hate crimes against people with disabilities. Copyright.
This paper examines the rise in Australia of a feminist engagement with the disability rights movement. It starts from an overall assessment of the emergence of the movement, and then explores the political, cultural and social dimensions of the institutional and ideological struggles that have evolved. An examination will be made of the impact of feminism on the disability movement and the role of women within the movement. The emergence of Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA), a cross-disability national body, and the work of WWDA on crimes of violence against disabled women, raises questions about the ways women with disabilities come to identify with an autonomous women’s group. It also examines the resistance of feminist theory and practice to the acknowledgment of specific issues of disabled women. Copyright.
In this paper the author discusses various layers of oppression that women have experienced around the globe. Her starting point is the oppression that white Anglo women experience and suffer from their Anglo men. She describes the secondary layers of oppression and their effects on women and men from ethnic or racial backgrounds where difference in language, culture and custom will play a part in the prejudice and oppression they will experience from the white dominant society. Copyright.
For many people with disabilities, Australia, at the end of the millennium, is experienced as a war zone. At a time when citizenship is a catch-cry in public debate, disabled Australians are effectively denied many of the simple rights their fellows take as given. This brief paper focuses on the processes which constrain and restrict the access to basic rights of disabled people. Human Rights are provided not solely in legislation, but most directly through services and activities in the community. When these ignore, deny or exclude disabled people no legislation is sufficient. Copyright.
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.
Although it is frequently noted that more people are living longer and are more active in their later years, very little information appears to be available on the needs and lifestyles of older people who are working or who are seeking paid work. Older workers in general appear to be paid very little attention in the literature and older workers with disabilities are almost invisible. This paper has two aims; one is to attempt to draw together the available data on older workers with disabilities and to make some suggestions as to how we may be able to compile statistical data on this group, the second aim is to identify the types of support that older workers with disabilities may require to continue working and contributing to society for as long as they choose, while still enjoying a reasonable quality of life. Copyright.
This paper examines the issue of residential accommodation for people with disabilities. The paper argues that the challenge for the new millennium, whenever society constructs that to be, is to accept all forms of human life as viable forms of life and to see each person as a part of the whole of humanity. In so doing, we need to question the place, relevance and adequacy of residential facilities in the so-called modern, progressive age in which we live. Copyright.
This paper discusses the authors personal experience of undergoing a tracheostomy, including the complexities she faced when having to make a decision about the procedure. Copyright.
This paper describes the authors experience of trying to acquire an electric double bed through a government funded scheme. “They could fund single or three-quarter size beds but not the double. The double size in such a bed was not considered to be basic equipment that would aid or enhance my mobility. Even though I am a married woman. I have been married for some thirty years.” The author examines this experience in relation to sexuality and people with disabilities. Copyright.
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.
In October 1999, it was announced by the Australian Government that Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) was one of four recipients of the National Violence Prevention Award. The winners were announced at the Awards Presentation at Parliament House in Canberra. The Australian Violence Prevention Awards are sponsored by the Heads of Australian Governments as a joint Commonwealth, State and Territory initiative and are designed to reward the most outstanding projects for the prevention or reduction of violence in Australia. This is a transcript of WWDA’s Acceptance Speech on receipt of the National Violence Prevention Award. Copyright.
The Second International Interdisciplinary Conference on Women and Health was held in Edinburgh Scotland, 12-14 July 1999. WWDA was represented at the Conference by Dianne Temby, who presented a paper on women with disabilities and health. This is a report from Dianne Temby on the Second International Interdisciplinary Conference on Women and Health. Copyright.
In early 1999, Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) undertook a small survey of its members to identify their experiences of, and concerns relating to telecommunications. There has been a groundswell of opinion and research highlighting the potential for telecommunications to improve living standards for women. However, none of this research has included the experiences and needs of women with disabilities in relation to telecommunications. Anecdotal evidence collected by WWDA indicates that access to telecommunications is a major area of inequity for women with disabilities. This report details the findings of the Telecommunications Survey undertaken by WWDA in early 1999. Copyright WWDA 1999.
This is a transcript of a speech given by Elizabeth Hastings at the Annual General Meeting of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), in Melbourne, September 12 1998. Elizabeth Hastings was the former (and the first) Disability Discrimination Commissioner in Australia. Elizabeth Hastings passed away in late 1998. The paper examines a number of issues including: A Discrimination free world to live in; Conditions in Congregate Care; Abuse in Institutions; Care for the whole person; Sterilisation of minors; Genetic Manipulation; Spiritual life and development; The bottom line; Attrition of Human Rights protection; and, Assisted Communication. Copyright.
All people with disabilities are at risk of being denied their gender. This is because many people with disabilities are not given the opportunity to fill important roles, such as mother, father, wife, lover, activist, feminist. This can have an especially detrimental effect on women with disabilities as they often have to put their disability first and their woman hood second. This paper uses case studies to illustrate the intersection of disability and gender. Copyright.
Issues for women with disabilities who experience domestic violence are a high priority for Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA). This paper aims to disseminate some information about WWDA the organisation. It also aims to discuss some pertinent issues concerning violence against women with disabilities. This paper will then examine projects that WWDA conducted in 1997 to assist women’s refuges to develop Model Disability Discrimination Act Action Plans. In keeping with the theme of the conference, this paper will conclude by suggesting some practical strategies that workers in the field can use to reorient their services to more accessible ones for women with disabilities. Copyright.
Although the concept of a Workplace Diversity Program is new, the application of equal employment opportunity principles to the Australian public service is not. Despite the fact that Commonwealth Departments have developed equal opportunity programs as required under the Public Service Act and presumably implemented the 1993 Strategic Plan for Equal Opportunity in the Public Service, discrimination, be it on the basis of sex and/or disability, happens. This paper analyses the double disadvantage experienced by women with disabilities in relation to their employment. It outlines the key features of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. All new initiatives in the area of equal employment opportunity need to be understood in the context of the legal framework for non discriminatory action. The author draws on her experience as a practitioner in the area of disability discrimination to outline some of the key factors which are relevant in findings of disability discrimination under the Disability Discrimination Act in the Australian Public Service. Copyright.
This small report describes a pilot project undertaken by Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) in 1998. The project focused on providing an introductory training workshop for women with disabilities in the use of the Internet. The report describes the project and it’s outcomes. Copyright.
Women With Disabilities Australia: ‘Doing it Better’……Investigating how individual services can provide access and equity with regard to disability via the development of a Disability Discrimination Act Action Plan (1998)
This is a copy of the final report from Women With Disabilities Australia to the Commonwealth Office of the Status of Women on WWDA’s project to develop a Disability Action Plan for a SAAP funded women’s refuge.
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.
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.
Housing is, of course, not an isolated issue but is inextricably linked to other aspects of daily living, including a general sense of security and well being, a feeling of independence and control over one’s life. There is almost universal agreement that housing is a basic human right, but the reality is that an overwhelming number of people – many of whom are women with disabilities – are still in search of the elusive ‘appropriate, affordable, secure housing’, and their numbers are increasing. This paper examines the issue of housing for women with disabilities in Australia. Copyright.
For increasing numbers of people throughout the world the self-management of chronic health or disability is an issue of significance to them and health service providers. The illness care system is experiencing the impact of the issues of ‘chronicity’ as they effect the lives and abilities of more and more citizens. The capacity of service providers to facilitate effective rehabilitation, which places the person at the centre of all interventions and remedies, is sorely challenged in a health service system permeated by a philosophy of restraint and control. The focus of this paper rests with the person engaged in disability. The use of personal vignettes and comparative analysis are used to explore how health beliefs and mindsets have a significant influence on the role of rehabilitation providers and self management outcomes for people with enduring changes to their health and abilities. Copyright.
As women with disabilities, the authors contend that an unintentional effect of imposing health policy for women from the top down, translated mainly through traditional service models, has meant that health and illness care strategies have developed with the same formalised or rigid boundaries which act as obstacles and barriers to keep many women out of women’s health services. Women with disabilities find themselves at the bottom of the pyramid of policy influence and many who seek health advice and management actually feel more oppressed. The authors use the population of women with disabilities to illustrate the effects of marginalisation on health care. Copyright.
In this paper the author explores the implications of the resurgence of the “new eugenics” as a philosophy underpinning modern reproductive practices from the perspective of the abuse and denigration of the rights in people with disabilities in general and women with disabilities in particular. These practices also infringe women’s rights and should be a matter of grave concern for all feminists. The discussion is not about the rights and wrongs of the abortion debate but adopts a disability rights interpretation of new reproductive and genetic technologies. Copyright.
This paper examines the issue of violence against women with disabilities. It covers a range of issues, including the lack of accessible information for women with disabilities about violence; and the lack of appropriate and accessible services and programs for women with disabilities escaping violence, or at risk of violence. Copyright.
This is a transcript of a speech given by Kali Wilde at the launch of WWDA’s report entitled: ‘More Than Just A Ramp’ – A Guide for Women’s Refuges to Develop Disability Discrimination Act Action Plans. The report was launched at the Women’s Emergency Services Network (WESNET) National Conference in December 1997. The speech discusses violence against women with disabilities, and calls for women’s services and programs to examine their policies to ensure that service provision is inclusive of women with disabilities. Copyright.
A paper presented to the Court Support Network in 1997. Many women and children with disabilities will come into contact with the Family Court. It is essential to understand that attitudes and beliefs held about people with disabilities are often more significant in terms of our life experiences, than the disability itself. Furthermore, it is imperative that disability is recognised as being an issue of poverty. Copyright.
This is a transcript of a speech given by Helen Skeat (past WWDA Executive Officer) at the 1997 Annual General Meeting of the Centre for Women’s Health Matters, Australian Capital Territory. The speech highlights a number of health issues for women with disabilities. It also challenges women’s health services to develop inclusive policies and practices to better meet the health needs of women with disabilities. Copyright.
In 1997, Glenda Lee represented WWDA at the Women With Disabilities International Leadership Forum held at the Hyatt Hotel, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America, 15-20 June 1997. This is Glenda’s report from the Forum. The Report discusses a range of issues covered at the Conference, including: Aspects of Leadership; Education and Development Assistance; Health and Family Issues; Employment Strategies; Communication and Technology. Copyright.
This Report is the outcome of a National Leadership Workshop conducted by Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) in October 1997. The Report provides detailed information which includes: How the Leadership Workshop Came About; A Report and Group Discussion on the International Leadership Forums; Women With Disabilities Australia- An Historical Perspective; What is Leadership? – A Group Discussion; Personal Stories; Feedback from Participants; and Recommendations for future work. Copyright.
In 1997, The Global Fund for Women (United States) provided funding to Women With Disabilities Australia to attend the International Leadership Forum for Women with Disabilities, which was held in Washington DC, 15 – 20 June 1997. This is the report to the Global Fund for Women from one of WWDA’s representatives at the International Leadership Forum, Ms Vicki Toovey. Copyright.
This Discussion Paper was prepared by WWDA for the Habitat II Conference: Sustainable Human Settlement and Shelter For All; The Second United Nations Habitat Conference, Istanbul, June 1996. The Paper examines housing issues for women with disabilities, including the barriers they face in securing appropriate and affordable housing. Copyright.
The paper is based on the premise that a carefully targeted component model allowance, to offset the unavoidable costs of disability, is the most cost effective way of relieving the poverty of people with disabilities who have to pay high support costs. The paper also proposes a Model and criteria for the development of a standardised disability allowance. Copyright.
Disability challenges the caring function of the family more than death, as the disability of a member will be lifelong. Professional social workers/planners/engineers/counsellors say families are important to caring for people with disabilities, but are they doing anything more than mouthing a platitude? Do they understand the difference that disability makes? In this paper the author looks at the initial meaning of disability to families, ways that families react, and then reflects on professional attitudes to disability and families. Many of the quotes used in the paper are directly from published accounts by people with disabilities. Copyright.
This paper examines 4 main themes: Inequality between men and women with disabilities in the sharing of power and decision making at all levels; Insufficient initiatives to promote the advancement of women with disabilities; Triple disadvantage – looking at women with disabilities from non-English speaking backgrounds; and the unmet health needs of women with disabilities. The paper argues that women and society, in general need to examine the experience of women as universal. This includes gender, age, culture, sexuality and disability. Whilst only women with disabilities can speak for women with disabilities, others with overlapping concerns such as non-disabled women and men with disabilities, are equally responsible in the task of working towards change. Copyright.
This paper examines the concept of ’empowerment’ and what it means for women with disabilities. The author illustrates the concept by providing examples from her own experience. Copyright.
In our society, women are frequently discriminated against, because they are women. People with disabilities are frequently discriminated against, because they are disabled. Therefore to be a woman and to have a disability is a double disadvantage. If women with a disability are also from a non English speaking background or an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander women they are often subject to a triple disadvantage. This Report examines this disadvantage from a number of perspectives. It looks at: The burden of poverty on women with disabilities; Inequality in access to education, health and related services; Violence against women; Effects of armed or other kinds of conflict on women; Inequality in the access of women with disabilities and participation in the definition of economic structures and policies; Inequality between men and women with disabilities in the sharing of power and decision making at all levels; Insufficient machinery at all levels to promote the advancement of women; Lack of awareness of and commitment to internationally and nationally recognised women’s human rights; Insufficient use of mass media to promote women’s positive contributions to society; and Lack of support and recognition for women’s contribution to managing natural resources and safeguarding the environment. The Report also contains recommendations for action to address these issues. Copyright.
This Report is the outcome of a research study about the experience of women with disabilities from non-English speaking backgrounds living in Australia. This was also a study of the attitudes towards women with disabilities, of non-English speaking background non-disabled women who participated in the consultancy. The project was carried out by a woman from a non-English speaking background with a disability. The research design was based on feminist research, action orientated and dialectic – an approach that visualises the world as an inter-connected ‘whole’. The Report discusses the project methodology, the findings, and also provides strategies for future directions. Copyright.
Women with disabilities are not protected by the Sex Discrimination Act (SDA) or the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) when it comes to gaining access to a Disability Support Program. This paper seeks to explore and explain this issue for women with disabilities. Copyright.
This paper argues that there are unique issues for women with disabilities who are abused or subjected to acts of violence. Being relegated to a marginalised status by their disability and further discriminated against through their gender, these women score ‘two strikes’. One consequence of this is that they are rendered invisible in both disability and women’s movements. This invisibility of identity not only exposes women with disabilities to grave risks of physical, emotional and sexual abuse but also limits their chances of obtaining support from existing services for other victims of violence. Adopting a feminist critique of disability, this paper offers an analysis of violence committed against women with disabilities and explores some of the key issues fundamental to a societal response to such violence. Copyright.
Pre-natal testing is one aspect of the new reproductive technologies that has not received a great deal of attention, unlike in vitro fertilisation for example. The consideration of pre-natal testing that has occurred, has taken place within the wider context of abortion. A re-examination of pre-natal testing is desirable because of the way that it has furthered the medicalisation of pregnancy and childbirth, and because of its potential (already partly realised) to remove decision- making control from the hands of women. The disability rights movement has grave misgivings about the ideology of pre-natal testing and selective abortion. This has in part been translated into an anti-abortion stance. Given the history of reproductive abuse (forced sterilisation, coerced abortion etc) against people with a disability, this anti-reproductive autonomy position is short sighted. A feminist disability rights perspective examines the social attitudes that influence the decisions women make in pre-natal testing and while questioning these attitudes, maintaining women’s right to reproductive autonomy. Copyright.
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.
‘Double disadvantage’ is intended to provide background information on the barriers confronting women with disabilities wishing to access education, employment and training. It brings together existing research findings, surveys and other data on women with disabilities including the observations and experiences of individual women with disabilities. Much of the material for this paper came from documented accounts of women with disabilities’ experiences of barriers to employment, education and training. This paper has a twofold purpose: 1. To provide women with disabilities with information and suggested strategies for action to enable them to better access education, employment and training options; and 2. To provide information and raise issues among people with disabilities, women’s groups, disability rights organisations, trade unions, government decision makers, equal opportunity practitioners, disability service providers and any other interested groups or individuals to enable them to begin to consider, take account of and then develop strategies to overcome the ‘double disadvantage’ of gender and disability. Copyright.
What is the current agenda for women with disabilities? What are their major concerns? Are the stereotypes changing? Do they really want to be sex objects? Has the women’s movement helped or hindered the disability cause? This paper looks at these and other questions. Copyright.
‘Women of the Shadow Universe: The Relationship Between Gender and Disability and its Effect on the Lives of Women With Disabilities – A Preliminary Survey’ – by Diana Palmer and Patricia Woodcoft-Lee (1990)
Approximately 16% of Australians have a disability. Just under half of these are women, 15.2% of Australian women to be exact. However, although this is a sizeable chunk of the population, yet one which has until very recently been largely ignored, by policy makers, academics and the women’s movement. it is also notable that, although there are almost as many females as males identifying as having a disability, the education and labour force participation rates for women are considerably lower for women and for men. This paper attempts to analyse the factors which contribute to the lack of awareness, not only of the needs of women with disabilities, but even of their very existence. Copyright.