In This Edition:

  • WWDA members participate in roundtable on violence against women with disability
  • Cheryl McDonnell: The violence continues but is anyone listening?
  • It’s time to update your membership details!
  • Consultation begins on Victorian state disability plan
  • Brain Injury Awareness Week – 15th to 21st August 2016
  • Australian Cross Disability Alliance submission to Arts and Communications Accessibility consultation

General News

WWDA Members Participate in Roundtable on Violence Against Women with Disability

Several WWDA members recently participated in a national roundtable on the development of the Australian Government’s action plan to reduce violence against women and their children. The roundtable was focused on the issues affecting women and girls with disability.

Held in Melbourne on 15 April 2016 as part of targeted consultations to inform the development of the Third Action Plan 2016-2019 under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022, the roundtable was well attended by a broad range of women with disability and other stakeholders.

The roundtable involved four hours of discussion, facilitated by Ms Helen Swift, between 12 participants, representing key stakeholders from disability and mainstream services and organisations, academia, health sector and advocacy organisations, supported by officials from the Department of Social Services (DSS). The Third Action Plan will specifically consider the needs of women with disability, as part of its aim to support women who experience diverse and complex forms of violence.

The discussions centered around four themes including:

  1. Results to date under the first two Action Plans of the National Plan
  2. Principles and approaches that could inform the Third Action Plan
  3. Priority actions of participants for consideration in the Third Action Plan
  4. Possible strategies for implementing the Third Action Plan.

For further information:

The Violence Continues But Is Anyone Listening?
Cheryl McDonnell

…yet violence against women and girls with disabilities, particularly those who live in institutions, remains largely outside the increasing public debate and policy responses to violence against women.

Nearly three years have passed since WWDA Vice President Karin Swift delivered this comment in an address at the University of Sydney on behalf of WWDA at a national roundtable on political participation, inclusion and decision making in 2013.

But are the Government listening yet? Are they including women with disabilities in the supports, and services for people escaping domestic violence? Is Government hearing the voices of women and girls with disability or are these voices being ignored while others speak over them about such a deeply personal issue? Women and girls with disability are made more vulnerable when their voices are ignored, overpowered by other louder voices and yet it is the women and girls with disability who know what they are experiencing and how they would like it to be resolved.

For some women and girls with disability, institutions are their domicile. But are the Government addressing the issues of violence in institutions against women with disabilities? What supports are in place to address the needs of women who suffer violence in an institutional setting?

Do state and federal justice systems have plans in place for the safety of women and girls with disability. The NSW Police, Code of Practice for Crime (p. 27) is a good start but fails to include people with mental health impairments as vulnerable people. People with intellectual impairment and people with physical impairment are both identified as ‘vulnerable people’ along with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse People and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

What of the media? Are the media engaging in public debate on the issues of violence against women with disabilities? Does such debate include the voices of women and girls with disability or again is the focus on the voices of others? Or are they only interested in sensationalised stories to fill their pages and sell their product?

What requirements have been made of service providers to women and girls with disability to address instances of violence? Are there appointed advocates to work with women and girls with disability to assist and support them in how they want to resolve the situation? Without a Royal Commission into the violence abuse and neglect of people with disabilities many service providers will continue with their ‘lumpy rug’ procedures that keep issues of violence in-house and hidden from public knowledge or view, sweeping issues under the carpet to maintain their own shiny corporate images. How aware are the general public about the issues of violence against women and girls with disabilities?

Without a Royal Commission the public will remain unaware of the extent of violence perpetuated against women and girls with disability. Without lifting the lid off service provider’s practices and bringing the many instances of violence into the glare of daylight and view of the general public, the issues will remain hidden and the harm to women and girls will continue to be perpetuated.

While the recent Senate Inquiry into violence, abuse and neglect against people with disabilities was a step forward, has it really achieved anything other than opening up a lot of wounds? When will we at last get a Royal Commission into violence against people with disabilities? Meanwhile, having failed to announce a Royal Commission, the Government has moved into caretaker mode in preparation for the next federal election. I wonder if it will even be on the radar as an election issue for any but a few die-hard advocates and activists who will continue to rail against the silence.

Women with disabilities continue to suffer from abuse, violence and neglect, and remain subject to policies that steal away their autonomy and deny them their most fundamental of human rights.

About the Author

Cheryl McDonnell is a cross-sectional social justice activist and member of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), People With Disabilities Australia (PWDA), and NSW Council of Social Services. She is a person with disabilities and the parent of people with disabilities. Cheryl enjoys gardening and the arts.

WWDA welcomes original submissions from members about the issues that are important to all of us. Please contact WWDA if you would like to contribute an article, creative work or reflection to our regular news bulletins and website.

It’s time to update your membership details!

You may have recently received an email from WWDA requesting that you update your membership details. We are currently upgrading our membership database and are keen to ensure that we have your correct details and preferences recorded. You can provide as little or as much information as you like.

If you missed the email, you can copy and paste the following information, complete the details you wish to provide and email directly to

Member Details Update

  • Full Name:
  • Preferred Name (if different from above):
  • Date of Birth:
  • Gender:
  • Postal Address:
  • Residential Address (if different from postal address):
  • Email address:
  • Organisation (if relevant):
  • Phone number:
  • Would you be interested in representing WWDA at forums, events, or being contact for specific consultations?
  • Any other information about yourself which you think is relevant (disability information, contact preferences etc.):

Australian Cross Disability Alliance (ACDA) News

Australian Cross Disability Alliance submission to Arts and Communications Accessibility consultation

In May 2016 the Australian Cross Disability Alliance (ACDA) provided a submission to the Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts consultation ‘’Communications Accessibility: 2016 and Beyond’’, specifically in regard the future of the National Relay Service (NRS).

In the submission ACDA emphasised that all people with disability have a right to equal access to communication under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Article 9 (accessibility), Article 21 (freedom of expression) Article 4 (general obligations) and Article 2 (definitions).

The ACDA expressed a number of concerns about proposals for the future of the NRS as outlined in the options consultation paper which would be retrograde steps in achieving substantive equality for people who are Deaf, hard of hearing or who have a hearing or speech impairment.

For further information:

Keep Up-to-Date with the Australian Cross Disability Alliance

WWDA is a founding member of the Australian Cross Disability Alliance (ACDA). ACDA has an online presence at and are also on Twitter.

Australian News

Consultation Begins on Victorian State Disability Plan

This month marks the start of the consultation period for the Victorian state disability plan 2017-2020, with the launch of the consultation website and discussion paper.

The next plan for Victoria will be implemented during a time of significant change in the disability landscape in Victoria. The plan will be the framework for improving the way mainstream services and environments work for all people with a disability living in or visiting Victoria.

The Victorian Government are keen to hear from Victorians of all backgrounds. You can get involved by visiting the Victorian state disability plan 2017-2020 consultation website, reading the discussion paper and its companion document.

For further information:

Brain Injury Awareness Week – 15th to 21st August 2016

The theme for this year’s national Brain Injury Awareness Week will be “young stroke”. A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is stopped by a clot or bleeding. Around 60,000 new strokes occur in Australia every year. While strokes often affect older people, 1 in 5 strokes happens to a person aged less than 55.

Brain Injury Australia and National Stroke Foundation – in association with the Stroke Recovery Association of New South Wales and the Stroke Association of Victoria – have teamed up to plan a series of awareness-raising events and activities, including the Week’s national launch to be held in Melbourne on Monday, August 15th. More information will follow in future e-newsletters. If you are interested in contributing to the Week please contact Nick Rushworth at Brain Injury Australia.

For further information:

WWDA Youth Network

As always, get the latest from WWDA Youth Network on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and the website!