Voices against Violence

Voices Against Violence was an initiative of Women with Disabilities Victoria (WDV), in partnership with the Office for the Public Advocate (OPA) and the Domestic Violence Resources Centre Victoria (DVRCV).

The project reports on the extent and nature of violence against women with disabilities in Victoria. As well as interviews with women with disabilities about their experiences of violence, it includes an overview of current issues, a review of legislative protections, a review of the records of OPA and interviews with its staff and volunteers. The project includes seven individual reports.

The project was funded by Gandel Philanthropy and a research grant from the Legal Services Board Grants Program.

You can download an electronic version of the reports below:

Voices Against Violence Paper One Executive Summary

This paper collates the information from the Voices Against Violence Research Project publications and sets out the recommendations arising from the research project.

Voices Against Violence Paper Two Current Issues in Understanding and Responding to Violence Against Women with Disabilitites (PDF 1.1MB)

This paper provides a conceptual starting point for the issues raised throughout the series of papers that make up the Voices Against Violence Research Project. Positioned within a human rights feminist approach, it reviews current knowledge about the nature and extent of violence against women with disabilities; the barriers to services faced by women with disabilities who have experienced violence; and outlines promising initiatives currently underway in Victoria that may help repair the harm and prevent the injustice of violence. In doing so, it examines the challenges in defining what we mean by violence against women with disabilities as opposed to violence against people with disabilities, men with disabilities, or women in general, and why this matters. It highlights the importance of examining disability-based violence and its interrelationship with gender-based violence

Voices Against Violence Paper Three A Review of the Legislative Protections Available to Women with Disabilities who have Experienced Violence in Victoria

This paper reviews Victorian and Federal legislation and related literature. It also looks at the practical perspectives provided by stakeholders regarding the adequacy of legal protections and barriers to justice for women with disabilities in Victoria who have experienced violence, and presents a clear pathway for future practice, legislative amendment and research. Legislation reviewed includes the:
• Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic)
• Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic)
• Personal Safety Intervention Orders Act 2010 (Vic)
• Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)
• Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)

Voices Against Violence Paper Four A Review of the Public Advocate’s Records on Violence Against Women with Disabilities (PDF 1.1MB)

This paper is based on a review of OPA’s Advocate/Guardian program files. OPA’s Advocate/Guardian program provides guardianship, investigation and individual advocacy services to Victorians with cognitive impairments and/or mental illness. The aim of the file review was to ascertain how many women who are clients of OPA’s Advocate/Guardian program have reportedly experienced violence. In order to find this out, the project reviewed the first 100 Advocate/Guardian case files involving women that were allocated to OPA in the 2011–12 financial year.

Voices Against Violence Paper Five Interviews with Staff and Volunteers from the Office of the Public Advocate (PDF 1.8MB)

This paper involved interviews with 25 staff and volunteers from OPA’s major program areas. The interviews explored participants’ experiences in working with women with cognitive impairments and/or mental illnesses who had experienced violence, or who were at risk of experiencing violence. The participants were asked to reflect on the circumstances of the women they had worked with at OPA. They were also asked to talk about the particular challenges for women with disabilities who have experienced violence, and what can be done to address violence and prevent it from reoccurring.

Voices Against Violence Paper Six Hearing from Women with Disabilities (PDF 1.2MB)

This paper involved in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 20 Victorian women with disabilities who have been subject to violence. The interviews explored women’s experiences of violence, how their disabilities impacted the violence they experienced, whom they went to for support, and their experiences with violence response services (such as police, family violence and sexual assault services). Women also talked about the changes they felt were required to better support women with disabilities who have experienced violence and their suggestions for preventing violence against women with disabilities.

Voices Against Violence Paper Seven Easy English Summary (PDF 3MB)

This paper summarises the major findings and recommendations of the Voices Against Violence Research Project in Easy English. The paper uses everyday words, simple sentence structure, and pictorials in order to convey the important findings of the research.

These papers have been written by different authors over a period of time, reflecting different language and definitions. In this period, the complexity of dealing with violence in different contexts – which employ different understandings of disability and different understandings of violence – has become evident. Grappling with this complexity has been a valuable learning and the thinking of the project team has evolved through the life of the project. We have endeavoured to standardise the language across papers as far as possible.