Conference Papers, Other Articles & Reports 2006 – 2010


Response from Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) to the Study: ‘Project WORLD: Women’s Roles in the Landscape of Disabilities’ (October 2010) [PDF]   [Word]

This Paper is a component of WWDA’s contribution to the international study ‘Project WORLD: Women’s Roles in the Landscape of Disabilities’. The study is being undertaken by the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A & M University and the Doha International Institute for Family Studies and Development. The study is focusing on the status and needs of women impacted by disabilities around the world. Copyright WWDA October 2010.


‘Women With Disabilities and the Human Right to Health’ – By Carolyn Frohmader (May 2010) [PDF]   [Word]   [Powerpoint]

This Paper was written by Carolyn Frohmader and presented by Karin Swift for WWDA at the Australian Women’s Health Network Conference, Hobart, May 2010. The right to the highest attainable standard of health is a human right recognised in a number of international human rights treaties and instruments to which Australia is a party. However, this international commitment has had little bearing on improving the health of women and girls with disabilities in Australia – who continue to experience violation, denial and infringement of their fundamental right to health. Women with disabilities in Australia not only represent one of the groups with the highest risk of poor health, but experience many of the now recognised markers of social exclusion. They experience major inequalities in health status, and experience significant disadvantage in the social determinants of those inequalities. The denial and infringement of women with disabilities right to health can be seen in an array of human rights violations: they experience violence at higher rates than their non-disabled sisters, experience less control over what happens to their bodies, have less access to vital health care services, such as cervical and breast cancer screening and, face discrimination, societal prejudice and stigma when it comes to determining their reproductive rights. This paper examines what is meant by women with disabilities right to health. It places this fundamental human right in the context of Australia’s obligations under three of the key human rights conventions it has ratified: the Convention on the Rights of Person’s with Disabilities (CRPD), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The paper draws on the work of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) to highlight the ways in which women and girls with disabilities in Australia are denied the freedoms and entitlements necessary for the realisation of their right to health. It then provides an overview of a range of policy initiatives required to address the structural, socioeconomic and cultural barriers that currently deny women with disabilities from realising their right to health. Copyright WWDA May 2010.


‘Downward Spirals: disability and health costs as contributors to poverty and imagining ways forward’ – By Sue Salthouse (May 2010) [PDF]  [Word]  [Powerpoint]

This Paper was written and presented by Sue Salthouse for WWDA at the Australian Women’s Health Network Conference, Hobart, May 2010. Low socio-economic status has a profound affect on the health and wellbeing of individuals. As a society, there is a need to focus attention on this cohort and address its needs through appropriate funding and services. The manifold barriers which limit the full participation of women with disabilities in communities results in our gross over-representation in the lowest income quintile. The ‘fact’ of disability is not a health issue but largely a societal one. Taking into account the gender and disability discrimination, this paper examines the impact of low income on the health outcomes of women with disabilities. Women with disabilities need to be able to manage their complex health needs in a cost-effective ways. All these factors must be integrally incorporated into the proposed National Women’s Health Policy. Copyright WWDA May 2010.


Women With Disabilities Australia: ‘Women With Disabilities and The Human Right to Health: A Policy Paper’ (May 2010) [PDF]  [Word]

Members of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), have identified the right to the highest attainable standard of health as a priority issue of concern. In keeping with WWDA’s systemic advocacy work to create greater awareness among governments and other relevant institutions of their obligations to fulfil, respect, protect and promote the human rights of women with disabilities, WWDA’s Policy Paper examines what is meant by women with disabilities right to health. It places this fundamental human right in the context of Australia’s obligations under three of the key human rights conventions it has ratified: the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The Paper highlights the ways in which women and girls with disabilities in Australia are denied the freedoms and entitlements necessary for the realisation of their right to health. It then provides an overview of a range of key policy initiatives required to address the structural, socioeconomic and cultural barriers that currently deny women with disabilities their right to health. The paper includes key strategies for consideration by the Australian Government. Recognising that the right to health is dependent on the realisation of other human rights, and extends to the underlying determinants of health, the key strategies identified in WWDA’s paper address a broad range of themes, that cut across several government portfolios.Copyright WWDA May 2010.


‘Recognition, respect and rights: disabled women in a globalised world’ – By Carolyn Frohmader and Helen Meekosha (March 2010) [PDF]  [Word]  [Powerpoint]

This Paper was presented by Helen Meekosha on behalf of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) to the 2010 Regional Conference on Women with Disabilities, held in Guangzhou, China. There are now more than 325 million disabled women and girls in the world, most of whom live in rural areas of developing or resource-poor countries. However, disabled women are far from achieving social, economic and political equality. In this paper we will argue that a precondition of disabled women achieving these equalities is recognition and due respect by wider society, as well as structural and attitudinal changes. Moreover, the lives and experiences of disabled women have been hidden from history and we are only just emerging as political actors in the struggle for our rights. Given limited data, we attempt a global picture of the lives and experience of disabled women. We then undertake a more detailed examination of three human rights issues. These are: the right to freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse, the right to bodily integrity, and the right to found a family and to reproductive freedom. Next, we give a history of our organisation, Women with Disabilities Australia (WDDA) and detail some of the challenges and successes that have faced WWDA since its inception in 1991. In conclusion we argue that while disabled women are now recognised in an international human rights convention, we still need to make visible our needs and demand an end to exclusion, inequality and violence. Copyright WWDA March 2010.


‘Shh!! we’re “keeping mum” – an examination of the profound silence about Domestic Violence which persists for women with disabilities’ – By Sue Salthouse (2010) [PDF] [Word]

This Paper Paper was presented by Sue Salthouse on behalf of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) to the ACT Conference ‘Responding to Family Violence: National Perspective – Local Initiatives’; 6-7 May 2010, National Convention Centre Canberra. The paper examines the factors which predispose women with disabilities to an experience of higher levels of domestic violence than any other population group. Whilst the paper acknowledges that there are commonalities that women with disabilities share with non-disabled women in getting access to refuges and the justice system, it argues that there are additional factors facing women with disabilities which must be dealt with if progress is to be made in our protection. Copyright WWDA 2010.


Women With Disabilities Australia: ‘Parenting Issues for Women with Disabilities in Australia’ – A Policy Paper (May 2009) [PDF]  [Word]

This Paper canvasses issues relating to parenting for women with disabilities in Australia, and stems from the identified concerns of the members of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), along with the dearth of Australian research in the area. The right to found a family and to reproductive freedom is clearly articulated in a number of international human rights treaties to which Australia is a signatory. Yet, for many women with disabilities in Australia who are parents or seeking to become parents, these fundamental human rights are not achievable. Instead, as WWDA’s Policy Paper demonstrates, disabled women experience a range of barriers and restrictions in realising their rights to full reproductive freedoms, particularly their right to found and raise a family. These economic, social and environmental barriers and restrictions are many, varied, and entrenched – yet remain largely ignored in Australian family related research, legislation, policies, and services. WWDA’s Policy Paper includes a number of key recommendations to the Australian Government, in particular the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), which is the Australian Government’s principal source of advice on social policy. Copyright WWDA May 2009.


‘Brave New World? – Is the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities a blueprint for Utopia?’ – By Sue Salthouse (2009) [HTML]  [PDF]  [Word]

Women with disabilities in Australia are over-represented in the most marginalised portion of the population. The twin discriminations of disability and gender, coupled with political, corporate and community neglect over many years have entrenched us amongst the poorest of the poor. A raft of prolonged and pro-active measures is needed to address this polarisation. Systemic advocacy is a primary tool which Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) has used to begin the long haul to redress and eradicate these imbalances. National and international funding support has enabled WWDA to conduct several capacity building projects. This paper examines the successes and shortfalls of these activities. It looks at whether the new UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) will help or hinder WWDA’s agenda. Copyright WWDA May 2009.


‘The Price We Pay': Women, Disability and Emotion’ – By Margaret Charlesworth (2008) [PDF]

“The Price We Pay” is the report of a study undertaken by WWDA member Margaret Charlesworth, from Adelaide, as part of the requirements of her Bachelor of Social Science degree, at the University of Adelaide. “The Price We Pay” refers to the many ways that women with disabilities are required to perform emotion work so that they can be treated as equal members of society. Margaret’s thesis argues that women with disabilities perform more emotion work than others-especially if their quest to be perceived as rational, contributing, and competent equal members of Australian society is to be realised. Throughout her thesis, Margie explores the concepts that have been applied to emotion work to describe the ways that women with disabilities perform their own emotion work on a daily basis. Copyright November 2008


‘Contextualizing disability: developing southern/global theory’ – By Associate Professor Helen Meekosha (2008) [HTML]  [PDF]  [Word]

Keynote paper given to 4th Biennial Disability Studies Conference, Lancaster University, UK 2nd – 4th September 2008. The purpose of this paper is to attempt to situate disability in a global context. The author argues that placing disability in the global context requires an analysis of the power relations between the Global North and the Global South that produce, sustain and profit out of disability. The author states that while she has engaged with the epistemologies of the North in doing her own research and writing, it has been evident for her for some time of their limitations. Little is documented about disability in the non-industrialized world. The role of the Global North, which constitutes the metropole, in the production of disability in the periphery is even less discussed. This paper is not simply a critique. It is concerned with doing disability studies better by recognizing the Majority World /Global South and including the 400 million disabled people that live in these regions in our thinking, our practice and our politics. Copyright September 2008.


From Coursework to the Workforce: Education Challenges for educators & women with disabilities – By Sue Salthouse (2008) [HTML]  [Word]  [PDF]

Paper presented on behalf of WWDA by Sue Salthouse (WWDA Vice President) at the Security4Women Education & Training Working Groups Invitational Symposium, held in May 2008. Copyright WWDA 2008.


Women With Disabilities Australia: ‘The Role of Advocacy in Advancing the Human Rights of Women with Disabilities in Australia’- Policy & Position Paper (2008) [HTML]  [PDF]  [Word]

In April 2008, Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) released this Policy Paper which seeks to articulate WWDA’s approach to disability advocacy in advancing and promoting the human rights of women with disabilities. The paper also looks at how human rights instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) can and should be used to inform and guide disability advocacy work. Copyright WWDA April 2008.


Forgotten Sisters: Recognising and Responding to Domestic Violence in the Lives of Women with Disabilities – By Dr Leanne Dowse and Annie Parkinson (2007) [HTML]  [PDF]

Paper presented by Dr Leanne Dowse (Social Sciences and International Studies, UNSW) and Annie Parkinson (President, Women with Disabilities Australia) at the Domestic Violence, Disability and Cultural Safety National Forum 2007, Diverse and Inclusive Practice: Redrawing the Boundaries. November 8-9, 2007, at Brighton-Le-Sands, NSW, Australia. Copyright WWDA November 2007.


Completely Knocked Out: Australian perspectives on disability, disempowerment and domestic violence – By Sue Salthouse (2007) [HTML]  [PDF]

World wide the incidence of domestic violence is of alarming proportions. This paper examines its genesis, cultural origins and impact from the viewpoint of women with disabilities. The cycle of poverty, low education and low employment perpetuate the disempowerment and power imbalances that enable domestic violence to thrive. There is an ongoing lack of global, national and local initiatives to address this scourge. These shortcomings are examined in the context of various UN actions, including Human Rights Conventions and the Millennium Development Goals. This paper presented on behalf of WWDA by Sue Salthouse (WWDA Vice President) at the Domestic Violence, Disability and Cultural Safety National Forum 2007, Diverse and Inclusive Practice: Redrawing the Boundaries. November 8-9, 2007, at Brighton-Le-Sands, NSW, Australia. Copyright WWDA November 2007.


Women With Disabilities Australia: ‘Development of a Resource Manual on Violence Against Women With Disabilities Project’ Final Report (October 2007)  [PDF]  [Word] 

In April 2006, Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) received funding from the Commonwealth Department of Families, Community Services & Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA) Office for Women (OFW), under the Domestic and Family Violence and Sexual Assault Funding Program, to develop a ‘Resource Manual on Violence Against Women With Disabilities’. The Project commenced on April 1, 2006. This Report is the Final Report on the Project to the Office for Women (OFW). This Report details the process and achievements of the Project and is constructed in line with WWDA’s Project Plan. Copyright WWDA 2007.


Motherhood and genetic screening: a personal perspective – By Fiona Place (2007) [HTML]  [PDF]

According to the medical profession the direction and scope of reproductive services such as IVF and pre-natal screening are based on solid evidence; the evidence indicates these are effective and safe services. Moreover, women want them. As a consequence these services are usually presented to the wider community in a positive light with images of ‘successful’ birth outcomes showcasing the importance of their work. Unsurprisingly this has lead to women being expected to take control – from timing a pregnancy to choosing one particular pregnancy over another – they are to improve their lives and the health of their offspring. But are these developments all ‘good’ news? Is it safe to assume the push to achieve better birth outcomes and the concomitant use of prenatal testing automatically improves lives? Could it be the issues raised are causing some lives to become harder? How meaningful, for example, are tests such as amniocentesis and CVS? As the mother of a child with Down syndrome I believe it is important for myself and other women in similar situations to share their lived experience. Perhaps we can illuminate some of the more complex and troubling issues these technological advances have the capacity to create – not only for ourselves – but for all women. Copyright.


Women With Disabilities Australia: WWDA Resource Manual on Violence Against Women With Disabilities (November 2007)

In late November 2007, Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) published its Resource Manual on Violence Against Women With Disabilities. The Manual is made up of four booklets: A Life Like Mine! – Narratives from women with disabilities who experience violence; Forgotten Sisters – A global review of violence against women with disabilities; It’s Not Ok It’s Violence – Information about domestic violence and women with disabilities; and, More Than Just A Ramp – A guide for women’s refuges to develop disability discrimination act action plans. PDF, Audio, e-text & Large Print PDF versions of the Booklets are provided here.


Women With Disabilities Australia: WWDA Strategic Plan Review – July 2007 [PDF]  [Word]

WWDA’s five year Strategic Plan (2004-2009) was developed in late 2003 following extensive consultation with members, associate organisations, and other stakeholders. WWDA has recently undertaken a mid term review of it’s five year Strategic Plan. This document provides detail on WWDA’s progress to date in meeting the objectives and strategies set out in the Plan, and indicates areas where WWDA needs to focus further work in order to achieve the goals of the Strategic Plan. This progress review also provides information on themes and issues emerging from WWDA’s membership during the term of the Strategic Plan to date, and highlights areas of ongoing work that will need to be incorporated into the next Strategic Plan. Copyright WWDA 2007.


Women With Disabilities Australia: WWDA Policy & Position Paper: ‘The Development of Legislation to Authorise Procedures for the Sterilisation of Children with Intellectual Disabilities’ (June 2007)

This paper seeks to articulate WWDA’s position on the issue of the forced sterilisation of minors, particularly in the context of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) work on the development of uniform legislation to authorise procedures for the sterilisation of children with an intellectual disability. The paper raises a number of key issues that WWDA asserts must be thoroughly considered in this debate, including: the application of human rights principles; pre-emptive assumptions; definitions, terminology and language; the consideration of procedures and their consequences; and, compliance with international human rights treaties. The paper argues that people with an intellectual disability have the same human rights as people without intellectual disabilities, and that the creation of legislation which enables authorisation of the sterilisation of children with intellectual disabilities, is in itself, a patent infringement of the human rights of those it seeks to protect.Copyright WWDA 2007.


Women With Disabilities Australia: Motherhood, Parenting and Women With Disabilities: A Literature Review (2007) [HTML]  [PDF]  [Word]

This literature review was prepared for Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) in 2007 by Ann Storr whilst on a student placement at the national WWDA Office. Copyright WWDA 2007.


Women With Disabilities Australia: WWDA ‘Advancement through Advocacy for Women With Disabilities’- Project Report 2007      [PDF] [Word]

In 2006-07 WWDA undertook a project to enhance the orgnisations’ capacity to undertake systemic advocacy work. The Project aimed to develop systems to recruit women with disabilities for systemic advocacy work; develop tools to support them in their representative/advocacy roles; and, develop systems to maintain capacity building mechanisms for WWDA’s representative work. This is the report of the Project, which was funded by the Australian Government under the Women’s Leadership & Development Programme, Office for Women, Department of Family, Community Services & Indigenous Affairs. Written by Sue Salthouse, Project Officer. Copyright WWDA 2007.


‘The Constant Bridesmaid: Will Work Choices and Welfare to Work changes help to get more women with disabilities into the workforce?’ – By Sue Salthouse (July 2006)

A Paper presented on behalf of WWDA to the National Conference on Women and Industrial Relations ‘Our Work…Our Lives’. Queensland Working Women’s Service and Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Brisbane 12-14 July 2006. Copyright 2006.