Last week the Australian Government announced a $100 million package of measures to provide a safety net for women and children at high risk of experiencing violence. The package aims to improve frontline support and services, leverage innovative technologies to keep women safe, and provide education resources to help change community attitudes to violence and abuse.

WWDA welcomed the announcement of the funding package from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Women Senator Michaelia Cash and will continue to advocate at a national and international level to ensure that the scourge of violence against women remains on national and global agendas.

Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) believes that ALL women and children in Australia have the right to feel safe and live without fear of violence, in all its forms.

In an interview with Will Gooding on 5AA radio Adelaide last week, WWDA Executive Director Carolyn Frohmader highlighted the need for a universal response to violence against women that is applicable to ALL women’s experiences, but which also incorporates direct and targeted measures that address the specific needs and experiences of diverse populations of women. She said:

“Women with disability, Aboriginal women, and women from non-English speaking backgrounds are cohorts of women where violence is particularly epidemic, but who are not well served by existing service responses.

There are a large number of women with disability who live, for example, in institutional settings, such as group homes, respite care facilities, nursing homes, hospitals, prisons – these environments are their ‘domestic’ setting. Regrettably, in Australia our domestic violence legislation does not cover women with disability in these institutional settings, because the violence that occurs within those environments is not considered ‘domestic’ violence.

Whilst we are heartened by the measures announced today, one thing that we will continue to advocate for is dedicated and targeted resources for women with disability, Aboriginal women and women from non-English speaking backgrounds.

We agree that training of front line workers is very important, however, we argue that, in the case of women with disability, there must also be resources directed to empowering and building the capacity of women with disability themselves – so that they are able to understand and recognise what constitutes violence; learn about realising their human rights; and seek a pathway to safety from the many forms of violence they experience – including domestic violence.”