Engender Equality Mountain

Rethinking safety for women with disabilities

Combined Media Release, Langford, Speak Out Advocacy and SHE Inc.

2 December 2015

Rethinking safety for women with disabilities

Speak Out Advocacy, Langford and SHE Inc join together on International Day for People with Disability to call for investment in safer communities for people with disabilities

3 December is International Day for People with Disability. Services are using this opportunity to call for an improved response to safety that listens to the particular needs of people with disabilities.

“People with disabilities don’t always fit neatly into domestic violence services. People’s primary relationships are with family, carers and possibly other residents at accommodation facilities” explained Alina Thomas EO of SHE, domestic violence service for women.

Women with disabilities are 40% more likely to be victims of domestic violence than their peers and they experience higher levels of violence. Ninety per cent of women with an intellectual disability have been subjected to sexual abuse, often before they turn 18.

Disability service providers recognise the gap in services for their clients. “We know that women with disabilities experience violence and abuse at a much higher rate than the rest of the population, however there are no tailored services to address this issue” stated Jenny Dixon CEO at Speak Out Advocacy.

Women with Disabilities Australia also encourage a more substantial response to the issue and promote the need for empowerment programs for women with disabilities to be able to understand and recognise what constitutes violence and abuse. Family members, carers and front line staff also need to be equipped in a practical and pragmatic way that promotes safety and wellbeing in a way that is respectful and supportive to women.

“Women can become at risk of abuse and violence as they seek to form social networks and forge their independence. Women with disabilities can feel quite isolated and this is why we need specialised services responses that are aware of these particular issues,” stated Kate Gillham from Langford support services.

Speak Out Advocacy and SHE have worked collaboratively this last year to bring together women with disabilities who have experienced violence and abuse. It is hoped that in 2016 this dynamic group will further inform a tailored response to violence and abuse.


Fact Sheet: Violence Against Women With Disabilities Prepared by Carolyn Frohmader, Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) Australian Civil Society Delegation to the 53rd Session of the Committee Against Torture, Geneva, November 2014 http://www.pwd.org.au/documents/temp/FS_Violence_WWD’s.pdf

Tayton, S., Kaspiew, R., Moore, S. and Campo, M. (2014) Groups and Communities at Risk of Domestic and Family Violence, Australian Institute of Family Studies.


Hegarty and O’Doherty, 2011, Intimate Partner Violence Identification and response in general practice, Australian Family Physician, Vol 40, No11 Nov