What Do We Do?

Women with Disabilities Victoria is the peak body of women with disabilities in Victoria.

Women with Disabilities Victoria:

  • Provides support and resources to women with disabilities in leadership roles
  • Works with community services and organisations to ensure they are inclusive of women with disabilities
  • Ensures services for people with disabilities consider a gender perspective that is responsive to women with disabilities
  • Works in partnership with other disability and women’s organisaitons
  • Encourages and undertakes research on issues affecting women with disabilities
  • Provides a voice for women with disabilities to influence government policy and legislation

Women with Disabilities Victoria does not provide direct advocacy representation or assistance to individuals. However, please view our Information & Resources page for further information on other organisations and services relevant to our priority areas of focus.

Our priority areas

The current priorities of Women with Disabilities Victoria are:

  • Prevent and respond to violence against women with disabilities
  • Accessible and inclusive health systems
  • Make the NDIS relevant to women with disabilities.

While focusing on our three priorities we will use every opportunity to:

  • Promote the importance of access to mainstream services
  • Create leadership opportunities for women with disabilities.

Violence: preventing violence against women with disabilities

Why is violence a top priority for Women with Disabilities Victoria?

Violence is a significant health issue for women in Victoria. Research undertaken in 2006 revealed intimate partner violence constitutes a significant risk to the health of women in Victoria. The study showed that intimate partner violence is a larger risk to health than other risk factors traditionally included in burden of disease studies, such as raised blood pressure, tobacco use and increased body weight (Vos, Astbury et al 2006). Research has established that women with disabilities experience violence at a higher rate, for longer periods, and are less likely to report the abuse, than women without disabilities (Healey, 2008).

Women with disabilities experience the same types of violence as other women in the community - that is physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse. Women with disabilities also experience forms of violence particular to their situation. Women with disabilities are often not respected or valued for who they are; in general they are poorer than other women; they experience more isolation and can be more dependent on partners, family members or carers. Because of this, women with disabilities can be targeted with forms of abuse that do not fit traditional definitions of violence. Withholding equipment, food and medication; limiting access to communication devices; and threats of institutionalisation are some forms of disability related abuse that may go unreported (Nosek, Foley et al 2001).

Our current work

Victoria’s Parliamentary Law Reform Committee is currently undertaking an inquiry on access to justice for people with intellectual disabilities. Women with Disabilities Victoria is working with partners to present issues of violence against women with disabilities to this inquiry. Access to justice involves knowing your rights, having avenues to protect those rights and report breaches of them, being believed when reporting, and being supported and safe during investigations. The parliamentary committee will be receiving submissions in September and running public hearings throughout late 2011.

Key resources

Building the Evidence: A report on the status of policy and practice in responding to violence against women with disabilities in Victoria (2008)

The Building the Evidence project analysed the extent to which Victorian family violence policy and practice recognised and provided for women with disabilities who experience violence; and made recommendations to improve responses to women with disabilities dealing with family violence. The research was undertaken because the full extent of violence against women with disabilities was unknown, because statistics about women with disabilities who experience violence are not collected well.

More information: Building the Evidence Report

A Framework for Influencing Change - Responding to Violence against Women with Disabilities, 2007-2009

To address violence against women with disabilities, we produced a framework. The framework is available to download, in various formats, on the Information & Resources Page of this website.

More information: Our Framework for Influencing Change

Working with VicHealth to address violence

Women with Disabilities Victoria provided input into to VicHealth's framework to guide primary prevention of intimate partner violence.

More information: Working with VicHealth to address violence

For more information or to download any of these resources please go to the Information & Resources page of this website. Alternatively, you can click on the individual resource links (above) to go to the relevant sections.

Health: Improving access to health services for women with disabilities

Why is improving access to health services a top priority?

Women with Disabilities Victoria has an ongoing goal of ensuring that women have equal access to health promotion and care in Victoria.

Improving access to health services is a priority because health service providers can fail to understand the specific needs of women with disabilities. For example, women with physical disabilities have difficulty accessing breast, cervical and bowel cancer screening programs when health centres fail to provide accessible parking, accessible toilets and accessible examination tables.

Our current work

Our current work includes:

  • Literature Review: Access to Health Services for Women with Disabilities
  • Research with the Centre for women's Health, Gender and Society
  • Developing a DVD to educate health professions
  • Working in collaboration with the Women's Health Association of Victoria
  • Submission to Law Reform Commission on Abortion

Key resources

Literature Review: Access to Health Services for Women with Disabilities

This report was commissioned by Women with Disabilities Victoria and undertaken by theCentre for women's Health, Gender and Society at The University of Melbourne by Sylvia Petrony, Dr Philomena Horsley and Professor Anne Kavanagh.

Women with Disabilities Victoria repeatedly hear about our members’ experiences of inadequate and non-responsive health services: not feeling respected; not being involved in the decisions that affect their health care and treatment; not being able to get onto the examination table; or the recurrent focus on their disability, rather than their health concerns.

This review was commissioned to identify what current research and literature can tell us about ways to improve access to health services for women with disabilities. The absence of evidence on the health experiences of women with disabilities in Australia is stark. In itself, this lack of research is an indicator of the depth of discrimination and the invisibility of women with disabilities within health research, policy and priorities.  Key barriers and areas for action are identified and summarised below. Women with disabilities make up 20% of women. Whether we are from Cobram, or a community residential unit in Coburg; whether we are an Aboriginal woman, or were born in Afghanistan; whether we are lesbian, or heterosexual, we are women first. Our health and wellbeing is critically important to us, and to the health of the whole community.


Parenting: Supporting women with disabilities in their parenting roles and reproductive rights

Why is parenting a top priority of Women with Disabilities Victoria?

Supporting women with disabilities in their parenting roles and reproductive rights is  one of Women with Disabilities Victoria’s secondary priority areas. Much research has been done into the needs of parents of children with disabilities but there is far less information regarding the needs of parents with disabilities. This reflects prevailing community attitudes towards women with disabilities who can be perceived as asexual, dependent and even as “unfit” mothers.

Whether the issues relate to sterilisation, abortion, pregnancy or parenting, it is evident that women with disabilities are treated differently to women without disabilities, and have been subjected to discrimination, invasive medical procedures and denial of basic human rights and bodily integrity on the basis of their disability.

Current Areas of work

Current areas of work on parenting include:

  • Supporting representatives advocating as parents
  • Advocating to government on parenting issues
  • NDIS submission
  • Parenting advocacy

In 2012-2013 Women with Disabilities Victoria plans to develop a framework to support advocacy that addresses the parenting and reproductive rights of women with disabilities.

Employment: Advocating for the rights of women with disabilities to be in paid employment

Women with Disabilities Victoria advocates for increasing the rate of employment of women with disabilities through submissions, presentations and participation in employment promotions.

Employment for women with disabilities is a secondary priority area for Women with Disabilities Victoria. The social and economic advantages of being employed are well recorded – such as security, self-determination, financial resources and a sense of purpose. Yet women with disabilities encounter innumerable barriers to obtaining paid employment. These barriers include discriminatory attitudes, accessibility, lack of support, poor education and training and inaccessible transport.

Commonwealth State Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA) data highlights the disparity between the employment of women and men with disabilities - 60% of men with disabilities  are being assisted into employment compared to  40% of women with disabilities. The unemployment rate for men with disabilities has dropped significantly since 1998, but has changed little for women with disabilities.

These issues were raised by Women with Disabilities Victoria and Women With Disabilities Australia in a joint Submission in Response to the Productivity Commission’s Disability Care and Support Draft Report (May 2011).

Women with Disabilities Victoria model an accessible workplace

As an organisation, we model an accessible workplace for women with disabilities.

We do this by:

  • prioritising employment of women with disabilities
  • engaging in accessible work practices
  • ensuring an accessible environment
  • learning about accessibility and disability practice from each other.

Advocacy Program

Representation on Boards and on Committees

Women with Disabilities Victoria members represent the interests of women with disabilities in Victoria by sitting on Boards and committees. Our members are representatives on numerous Boards and committees including:

  • Victorian Disability Advocacy Network (VDAN)
  • Womens Health Association of Victoria (WHAV)
  • Statewide Family Violence Advisory Committee
  • Statewide Family Advisory Committee to Prevent Sexual Assault
  • Royal Women’s Hospital Disability Reference Group
  • Domestic Violence Victoria Board
  • Centre for Women’s Health, Gender and Society Advisory Committee
  • Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault Advisory Committee
  • Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Disability Reference Group


Writing submissions is an important way of having input on government policy and legislation. This provides an opportunity to advise government on ways to include the needs of women with disabilities in its legislation, policies, programs and initiatives. You can read examples of Women with Disabilities Victoria submissions on our Information & Resources page.


Attending and presenting at conferences is a great way to raise awareness and contribute knowledge on our priority areas, share information and meet people working in similar fields.


Women with Disabilities Victoria conducts high level meetings with government ministers and senior bureaucrats to promote and advance on issues of particular concern to women with disabilities.



Empowerment and Leadership ProgramS

The Enabling Women Leadership Program

Enabling Women is a community leadership program that empowers 8-12 women with disabilities to have a voice about issues that relate to them and other women with disabilities. The program runs for one day a week, for six weeks, followed by a graduation celebration. A mentor program often runs alongside the Leadership program, which sees metnors and participants working together over the space of approximately 2 months


ENABLING WOMEN Community Leadership Program - Outer East region, from April to May 2018

Women with Disabilities Victoria, Knox City Council, Coonara Community House, EACH, Maroondah City Council, Yarra Ranges Council and Women’s Health in the East have partnered to deliver the Enabling Women Community Leadership Program in the outer east region this year (2018).

The leadership program is open to women with disabilities who live, work or play in the local government areas of Knox, Maroondah or Yarra Ranges to come together to build upon their natural leadership skills, share their own experiences, make friends, connect, support one other to achieve their goals and to have fun!
The program will run one day a week for six weeks from Monday 23rd April to Monday 28th May 2018, 10am to 3pm at Coonara Community House, 22 Willow Rd. Upper Ferntree Gully. There will be a celebratory graduation ceremony on Monday 4th June and a reunion in July.

Enabling Women is free for participants. There is the capacity for 8-12 women.

For more information and how to apply for the program please come along to the Information Session:
Where: Coonara Community House, 22 Willow Rd, Upper Ferntree Gully
Where: Wednesday 14th March 2018 from 10am to 12pm
Or alternatively: contact Carly or Jane from WDV on 9286-7800 (Mon to Thurs) or email carly.myers@wdv.org.au for more information.

Applications close: 5pm, Wednesday 21st March 2018

A flyer for the Participant Information session for the Enabling Women Community Leadership Program can be found here:
EWLP Outer East Participant flyer - PDF version
EWLP Outer East Participant flyer - Word version

The Participant application form for the Enabling Women Community Leadership Program can be found here:
EWLP Outer East Participant Application Form - PDF Version
EWLP Outer East Participant Application Form - Word version



Women with Disabilities Victoria (WDV) are seeking women who are interested in supporting women with disabilities to step up in their communities.

The mentoring program will complement the Enabling Women Community Leadership Program, a successful leadership program for women with disabilities. Mentors will commit to 6 one-hour sessions. Contact can be a mixture of face-to-face, phone and email. A mentoring handbook is provided.

Women of all ages and abilities from the local government areas of Knox, Maroondah or Yarra Ranges are welcome to express interest.

An information session on will provide potential mentors with more information:
Where: REALM, Ringwood Town Square (located opposite Ringwood Station) - 179 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood (http://www.realm.vic.gov.au/content/392/visitingrealmtest)
When: Thursday 15th March 2018, from 1.30pm to 3.30pm (Afternoon tea will be provided)
RSVP & Enquiries: RSVP by Friday 9th March 2018 to Jane Oldfield, Women’s Enabling & Empowerment Officer, either by Ph. 9286 7807, or Email jane.oldfield@wdv.org.au  

Applications close: 5pm, Friday 23rd March 2018.

The Advertisement flyer for the Mentor information session can be found here
EWLP Outer East Mentoring Program Information Session - PDF version
EWLP Outer East Mentoring Program Information Session - Word version

The Application form to be a mentor can be found here
EWLP Outer East_Mentor Application form - PDF version
EWLP Outer East_Mentor Application form - Word version


Other ways to be involved:

Enabling Women Co-Facilitator/s
Co-Facilitators assist to deliver the Enabling Women Community Leadership program. leadership program. This is a paid position, and we look for local women who identify as having a disability.

Current position available:
Co-faciliator for the Enabling Women Community Leadership Program - Outer East. Please see our employment page for more details.


Enabling Women Mentor Coordinator/s
Mentor Coordinator use their established networks and/or excellent networking skills to coordinate the Mentor Program that runs alongside the Enabling Women Community Leadership Program (EWLP). The position will involve supporting mentors, and assist in matching them with participants of the EWLP. Mentor Coordinator positions are paid.

Current position available:
Mentor Coordinator for the Enabling Women Mentor Program - Outer East. Please see our employment page for more details.


For more information, please see our employment page, or contact our office on 03 9286 7800


The Hubs (Leadership Networks for Women with Disabilities)

The Hubs (Leadership Networks for Women with Disabilities) are aimed at women with disabilities in the local regions of Barwon, Wellington, Moira, and Warrnambool regions, who have an interest in leadership, advocacy, human rights and empowerment.

Local people who identify as women, and who identify as having a disability, in these regions and their surrounds, are very welcome to become part of a Hub. There is no cost at all to join.  

To find out more about the Hub in your local area, please see the following:

Barwon Hub Flyer

Moira Hub Flyer

Warrnambool Flyer

Wellington Flyer


Women Leading By Example Leadership Program

A two-day Leadership Program for young women with disabilities - September 2016

"Women Leading By Example" was a unique program for women with disabilities interested in developing their leadership skills, held in Melbourne in September 2016. High profile female leaders, mentors, and workshop facilitators from corporate, government, and non-profit sectors presented and interacted with participants.

View the Women Leading By Example video to see what happened on the day!


"Our Right to Respect!" Peer Education Program

WDV will be offering the Our Right to Respect! Peer Education program to women with a lived experience of disability. The program offers opportunities to explore respectful relationships, experiences of being a woman, and women's and disability rights.

The program will run over four weeks in two locations:

Our Right to Respect! - Murrumbeena - 28th February - 21st March (in conjunction with Glen Eira Council)

Our Right to Respect! - Ringwood - 9th - 30th March

For more information please see the above fliers, or contact Bianca Evans on 9286 7809 or bianca.evans@wdv.org.au


Workforce Development Program

Evaluation Findings: the gender and Disability Workforce Development Program

The Gender and Disability Workforce Development Program is designed to change culture across whole organisations, working with clients, staff, managers and executives to increase awareness of how to deliver gender equitable and sensitive services. This is as a strategy for improving women's well-being and status and reducing gender-based violence.

WDV piloted the program throughout 2014/15 alongside an evaluation process that was completed in August 2015. Following the encouraging program evaluation findings, extension of funding was announced by the Hon. Fiona Richardson, Minister for Women and Minister for Prevention of Family Violence.

"Advocacy and education through this program are fundamental in promoting and upholding the rights of Victorian women with a disability and reducing the risk of gender-based violence."

WDV will be offering disability support organisations the opportunity to participate in the next stage of this exciting cultural change program.

Read more about the Gender and Disability Workforce Development Program (PDF) (Word).

Interested in the evaluation findings? You can read them here: Evaluation Summary: Gender and Disability Workforce Development Program (PDF) (Word).


Research: building the evidence

Women with Disabilities Victoria conducts research that builds our knowledge and informs our advocacy. We also engage with and primarily partner with research institutions and also support research undertaken by other organisations that relate to our priority areas.

Collaborating with key organisations researching violence against women

Women with Disabilities Victoria contribute to the frameworks of other organisations addressing violence against women, such as providing input to VicHealth's review of the literature to guide primary prevention of intimate partner violence: Respect, responsibility and equality: preventing violence against women, 2007 (PDF 42KB).

A full copy of the literature review is available for download and a summary of findings from the literature review is further listed on the Information & Resources page.

Other research - violence against women with disabilities:

Building the Evidence: A report on the status of policy and practice in responding to violence against women with disabilities in Victoria



An important element of the work of Women with Disabilities Victoria is providing information to our members and other interested parties to promote the interests and human rights of women with disabilities. We do this in the following ways:


Women with Disabilities Victoria maintains an Online Resource Collection (Clearinghouse) of information resources to support systemic advocacy in its key priority areas.

e-News & Newsletters

Women with Disabilities Victoria produce and distribute a number of news publications.

the e-News

a fortnightly email communication to members, supporters and other community organisations, covering related news and opportunities to advance Women with Disabilities Victoria’s goals. You can subscribe to our eNews online here.

Violence & Disability Quarterly

This quarterly publication (Newsletter) highlights the links between family violence and disability. The newsletter is a place to share resources, policy updates and practice challenges. You can subscribe to our subscribe to our 'Violence & Disability Quarterly' Newsletter here.


Update website with key relevant and current information, resources, WDV publications & news and opportunities.

Periodic Forums

Women with Disabilities Victoria hosts information forums on specific issues for members and the broader community.

Social Media

Women with Disabilities Victoria actively engage with our constituents and the community through a range of social media. We regularly share our latest news and multimedia in this way and would love to connect with you! Just click on the image links at the very top (right side) of any web page to find us! You can also connect with us via the links below.

Partners & Supporters

Women with Disabilities Victoria would like to acknowledge the generous assistance of our funders, pro bono supporters and volunteers.

Funds & Grants


Department Human Services

Job Access (Employment Assistance Fund)


Portland House Foundation

Portland House logo

Reichstein Foundation

Pro Bono Contributors & Volunteers

AJF Partnership
Pro Bono design of new logo and branding

AJF logo

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
Provision of pro bono auditing services 2010 and 2011

Deloittes logo

Cath Gray
Website development
ANZ Bank Volunteer Program

ANZ logo

Holding Redlich
Legal Advice

Holding Redlich logo

Thank you

ARM Archetecture
Pro Bono design of offices

ARM logo

Jane Murray
Communications Consultant

Susie Shears
Museum of Medicine

Advice to History Project


Leadership Victoria
Mentoring support
Barbara Van Ernst

We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which Women with Disabilities Victoria is located - the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation