WDVs Continuing Commitment to First Nations People with Disability

WDVs Continuing Commitment to First Nations People with Disability

WDV’s continuing commitment to First Nations women and non-binary people with disabilities

Photo of Uluru at sunrise by Ondrej Machart
  • Australia has voted no to a constitutionally protected advisory body giving a voice to First Nations people in this country.
  • The result has been met with feelings of sadness and sorrow from many in our community.
  • The result doesn’t define our commitment to First Nations community.
  • We are dedicated to strengthening our work with women and non-binary people with disability from First Nations communities.
  • We are formalising this and will continue to work with Reconciliation Australia on our RAP.
  • WDV staff are holding space and reflecting on this time and respect that First Nations Australians who campaigned for the Voice to Parliament have called for a week of silence across the country to grieve and reflect.

The referendum process has been difficult and demanding for First Nations people. Mob only support services are available at Healing Foundation and can be found here: www.healingfoundation.org.au

For others in our community support can be found here:
The Blue Knot website
The Life Line website


Photo by Ondrej Machart 

Registrations Open for 2023 AGM and Board Elections

Registrations Open for 2023 AGM and Board Elections

2023 AGM and Board Elections

Tuesday 14th November 2023, 1:30pm – 3:00pm

Registrations are closed

Women with Disabilities Victoria’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held on Tuesday 14th November! In light of our commitment to access for all Victorian women and non-binary people with disabilities, the 2023 AGM will be held online via Zoom. Auslan Interpreters and Live Captioning will be provided. The meeting will include the annual elections to the Board of WDV.

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The Voice to Parliament Referendum: Statement from the WDV Board

The Voice to Parliament Referendum: Statement from the WDV Board

Dark blue tile with a bunch of empty speech bubbles. Yellow and white text says: There's a conversation going on about the Voice referendum.


The Voice to Parliament Referendum: Statement from the WDV Board.

Read it here:

The Voice to Parliament Referendum Statement from the WDV Board- Word

The Voice to Parliament Referendum Statement from the WDV Board- PDF

WDV acknowledges the diversity of opinion on the Voice to Parliament. There is also a lot of information on voting Yes and voting No. We encourage our members and women with disability in the community to make their own informed choice when voting on October 14.

The First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) is the peak organisation of and for Australia’s First Peoples with disability, their families and communities. You can access their website here fpdn.org.au

The upcoming referendum may be upsetting for some First Nations people. If you are a First Nations person and would like support, there are culturally safe services available 13Yarn. Visit the 13 Yarn website.


Accessible Resources

WDV are part of the broader human rights movement and advocate for people with disabilities to be enabled to fully participate in all areas of life. The right to vote is essential to enabling full citizenship (Source: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR], Article 25). Voting processes and information has often been inaccessible for people with disabilities. Here are some resources:

The Council for Intellectual Disability have created this document in Easy Read that explains the referendum, voting and what voting Yes or No will mean for Australia and First Nations people.
Council for Intellectual Disability -Easy Read – The Voice to Parliament

Life Without Borders have several documents available on their website, in multiple languages to support everyone to understand the referendum.
Add link to 9328 Factsheet Easy Read LR2 – Life Without Barriers
Add link to 9328 Factsheet Plain English final LR2 – Life Without Barriers

· Voting accessibility https://icanvote.org.au/
· Accessibility of AEC services Referendum 2023 – Accessibility of AEC services
· Easy read guides which explain referendums, how to vote and enrol to vote https://www.aec.gov.au/About_AEC/Publications/easy-read/
· The official YES/NO Referendum pamphlet
· ‘Your Answer Matters’ a podcast released by the AEC, described as:
“an unbiased and detailed look at why the referendum is important, how you can make your vote count, and why your answer matters”

As of 6th September 2023, there is currently no Easy Read/ Easy English version of the official Referendum pamphlet available. The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) notes:
Your official referendum booklet will be available in accessible formats progressively throughout September on this page https://www.aec.gov.au/referendums/learn/your-official-referendum-booklet.html.

Blind and low vision
Your official referendum booklet is currently being converted into formats accessible to voters who are blind or have low vision, and will available here, once completed. Once these materials are completed, they will also be available to request in hard copy through the AEC Contact Centre on 13 23 26.

Easy Read
Your official guide to the referendum is currently being converted into Easy Read and will be available here, for voters with different reading abilities once completed.
If you would like any further information, there are a variety of ways you can contact the Australian Electoral Commission: https://www.aec.gov.au/About_AEC/Contact_the_AEC/index.htm

Be wary of scam emails or text messages

Be wary of scam emails or text messages

With the rise of online scamming and fraudulent emails, it is becoming increasingly important to be wary of suspicious emails. We would like to remind you that WDV will not ask for financial donations via email.

In certain cases, scammers can send emails or text messages coming from a different email. For instance, a spam email which appears to be from Nadia asking for donations via email. Due to the fraudulent nature of scammers posing as someone else online, please note it is best to never give away any personal or financial information unless you have had a verbal conversation with one of our staff members.

If you receive these types of emails, please delete these from your inbox and do not click on any of the links.

If you have any questions please contact us on (03) 9286 7800

New Podcast – Making Our Voices Heard

New Podcast – Making Our Voices Heard

WDV has just released a four-part podcast series Making Our Voices Heard – a series focusing on COVID-19, mental health and its impact

Throughout this series, you will hear directly from women and non-binary people in Australia about the ongoing physical and mental health impacts of the Covid 19 pandemic. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic the voices of women, transgender people, gender diverse people and/or non-binary people with disabilities have been marginalised. This podcast centres those voices and highlights the systemic barriers that people with disabilities have faced during the pandemic. 

You can listen wherever you get your podcasts, including:

You can also find out about the podcast and listen to episodes on our website.

Police and other services need to believe women with disabilities when we report violence

Police and other services need to believe women with disabilities when we report violence

Police and other services need to believe women with disabilities when we report violence.

Two women in conversation sitting on a couch.

Last week, the Disability Royal Commission heard about violence against women and girls with disabilities. Our Senior Policy Officer, Jen Hargrave, was at the hearing.

Women with disabilities appeared as witnesses and told their personal stories. Many spoke about how they did not get much support the first time they experienced violence. This was part of why they experienced more violence, often over many years, from different perpetrators.

Witnesses made many recommendations to the Royal Commission about how women with disabilities who experience violence can be supported. For example, some women asked that police and other services believe them when they report violence.

Ms B (not her real name) said: “I want you to stop making Royal Commissions, stop making recommendations and actually do it. Laws in place, no more empty promises.”

You can watch a video of Ms. B talking to the Disability Royal Commission on Twitter.

Tasmanian Legal Aid also spoke to the Disability Royal Commission. They support many women with disabilities experiencing family violence.

Tasmanian Legal Aid recommended that there should be a national legal and social service to support people with disabilities experiencing family violence. They said that the service should also support people with situations that involve child protection, family law and housing.

The last people to give evidence were from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). WDV recently did some research with the University of UNSW and Women with Disabilities ACT (WWDACT) about women and the NDIS. We found that women and girls don’t get a fair go at accessing the NDIS. The NDIA have not done anything to change this unfairness.

The NDIA also told the Royal Commission they don’t have any certain plans to improve how they respond to people with disabilities who are experiencing family violence. They could not say what the NDIA definition of family violence is.

Jen Hargrave and WDV member Nicole Lee wrote about the NDIA’s evidence on Twitter.

For more information about the Disability Royal Commission hearing on violence against women and girls with disabilities, please see Women with Disabilities Australia’s Twitter account.

The Commission’s next scheduled hearing will be 11 – 13 April. This hearing will be about the experience of people with disability working in Australian Disability Enterprises.

If you would like support around any of the issues in this post, please reach out.

You can call Lifeline on 1800 55 1800. Lifeline also has an online crisis chat service.

You can call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

Blue Knot has a dedicated counselling service for people impacted by the Disability Royal Commission which you can call on 1800 421 468.


“Inclusive Victoria” – How does the new State Disability Plan support women?

“Inclusive Victoria” – How does the new State Disability Plan support women?

“Inclusive Victoria” – How does the new State Disability Plan support women?

A white woman with short grey hair and sunglasses sits outise on a ench in front of a brick wall and tree. She holds a cane in her right hand. Her left hand is raised as though to ask a question.
Image sourced from Canva.

The Victorian Government released its new State Disability Plan this week: Inclusive Victoria: state disability plan (2022–2026). The plan aims to improve disability access and inclusion across Victorian services, including health, sexual assault and family violence services.

At Women with Disabilities Victoria (WDV), we are pleased that the plan recognises the gendered nature of violence against women. Sexual and reproductive health and parenting supports have also been included.

In the plan, the Victorian Government has committed to making family violence refuges meet disability access standards, according to the Disability Discrimination Act.

If the plan is followed, we should see a much needed increase in accessible private and social housing. We could also see an increase in resources devoted to Disability Action Plans, disability leadership and the accessibility of information provided by the Victorian Government.

WDV appreciates the work that has been done to ensure that this plan is put into action across government departments. It’s important that disability access and inclusion is part of all of the work that government does.

The plan shows a commitment to the Disability Discrimination Act and the Human Rights of people with disability.

We look forward to seeing which activities in the plan are supported in the May budget.

International Women’s Day 2022!

International Women’s Day 2022!

International Women’s Day 2022

Close up photo of a piece of artwork depicting late disability advocate Leslie Hall
Artwork by Larissa McFarlane – A tribute to Lesley Hall

Let’s have a conversation about the issues that impact women with disabilities, and how we can lift up each other’s voices on International Women’s Day.

It’s March 8, which means that IWD (International Women’s Day) festivities are going on around the world with morning teas, exhibitions, discussions, community events, and general celebration of the successes and achievements of women over the last year.

It’s also a day to think about the ways that women experience discrimination, and how far we have to go before we live in a world with true gender equality. As women with disabilities, we sometimes experience this discrimination in ways our able-bodied counterparts might not.

Women face discrimination in health services, with the medical system (on average) underestimating and undertreating women’s pain, and under-researching conditions that primarily impact women. The impact of this is disproportionately felt by women with disabilities who depend more heavily on these services.

Women face financial disadvantages, with lower wages over our lifetimes. Data from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency released last month shows women typically earn about $25,000 less annually than men. Women are more likely to be engaged in unpaid labour (caring for family, work around the house, volunteering at schools, organising get togethers …) and more likely to be in part-time or insecure work.

Women with disabilities face the additional challenge of disability discrimination in workplaces, and lack of physical access. Workforce participation rates for Australian women with disabilities is 49 per cent, compared with Australian women generally at 72 per cent. Men with disabilities have a 58 per cent participation rate.

For a shining moment during the pandemic, when non-disabled  people needed access to work from home setups, it seemed that employment might become far more accessible to women (and men) with disabilities who struggle to access transport or can only work from home. It’s easy to feel forgotten as the pressure now mounts to return to the office.

Financial disadvantage is also a driver of domestic violence. Lack of access to funds can dramatically reduce our independence and give family, intimate partners or the state much more control over our lives. For women with disabilities, this can be exacerbated by the partnered rate of the DSP (disability support pension), as our personal funds can be reduced or removed based on our partners’ salaries.

In Australia, women with disabilities make up 49 per cent of disabled people, but only 37 per cent of NDIS participants, making it very likely that many women with disabilities are depending on family and intimate partners for basic supports.

Women with disabilities are three times more likely to experience family violence than women without disabilities.

On International Women’s Day, we are being asked to change the climate. For women with disabilities this means challenging patriarchal ideas. It also means looking at the intersection between biases that impact women and the systemic discrimination against disabled people in all areas of our lives.

Whether you are a woman with disability or one of our allies, here are some ways to take action today:

Let’s raise our voices on #IWD.