WWDA is unique, in that it operates as a national disability organisation; a national women’s organisation; and a national human rights organisation.I would also like to make a comment in passing about the position that this presentation takes in the timetable for this conference.WWDA acknowledges that it is not an easy task to draw up a complex conference schedule.
I would like to begin by acknowledging the people of the Woiworung nation on whose land we stand today.
Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) is the peak organisation for women with all types of disabilities in Australia.
The issues for women with disabilities have largely been excluded from most generic policies and from responses to the issue of women and violence.
Women with disabilities are largely invisible in both the disability and women’s movements.
It is a not-for-profit organisation constituted and driven by women with disabilities.
It is the only organisation of its kind in Australia and one of only a very small number internationally.
All these factors combine to produce a situation where women with disabilities are relegated them to a position of extreme marginalisation and consequently, to increased risks and experiences of violence.
First of all let me set the scene by looking at the status of women with disabilities in Australia.
The fact is that women with disabilities make up 20% of the population of women – that is nearly 2 million of us (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2003), and that because of this high representation our experiences should become a mainstream issue in consideration of the domestic violence scenario.
There is a high incidence of violence against women with disabilities. Yet until recent years, there has been a profound silence around the experiences of violence among women with disabilities.
This is pertinent because it explains why women with disabilities are a vulnerable group, consigned to positions of disempowerment in society, and as such vulnerable to all forms of exploitation, not the least of which is domestic violence.