Media Release: Action urgently needed to stop violence against women with disability

Violence against women with disability occurs at alarming levels in Australia: at least twice the rate of other women. Today, on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia) calls for urgent action to address the human rights violation that is violence against women with disability.

DPO Australia welcomes the progress made to include violence against women with disability in the Australian Government’s Third Action Plan under the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children. However, it has been a year to the day since the release of the Report from the Senate Inquiry into Violence, Abuse and Neglect of People with Disability in Institutions and Residential Settings, and the Australian Government is yet to respond.

“It is important that the Third Action Plan identifies action for the development of integrated, responsive and accessible services for women with disability, and the critical need to undertake research to investigate the violence experienced by women with disability – its myriad forms, diverse perpetrators and the locations where it occurs,” said Carolyn Frohmader, Executive Director of Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA).

“However, we are still waiting for the Government to respond to the recommendations within the Senate Report that are critical to addressing all forms of violence against women with disability, and people with disability in general,” continued Ms Frohmader. “In the year since the Report’s release, we continue to hear horrific reports about violence and abuse perpetrated against people with disability. It’s just cruel to make people with disability wait for a response and for action to be taken.”

DPO Australia Director, Therese Sands said, “We welcome the Government’s commitment to the development of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Quality and Safeguarding Framework, but we are concerned that this may be viewed as the only action needed to respond to violence against people with disability. The significant high levels of violence experienced by people with disability, and the higher levels experienced by women with disability in particular goes well beyond the NDIS.”

DPO Australia made 30 recommendations in its submission to the Senate Inquiry but reiterates 3 key recommendations in a Call to Action, which are reflected in the findings of the Senate Inquiry Report:

  1. We call for a Royal Commission into violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in Australia.
  2. We call for an overhaul of the criminal justice system so that, at every step of the process people with disability are supported in accessing the same legal protections and redress as the rest of the community.
  3. We call for the establishment of an independent national statutory watchdog to protect, investigate and enforce findings regarding violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability.

Media Contact

Carolyn Frohmader: 0438 535 123
Therese Sands: 0412 935 128