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Information for Supporters and Services

This page has information to help friends, family, carers and violence response services to support women and girls with disability to be safe.

In Australia, women with disability are at a much higher risk of experiencing violence than women without disability and are also less likely to get the help they need.

Watch the WWDA video about the right to freedom from all forms of violence:


The situation

Women with disability in Australia experience many forms violence at higher rates than the rest of the population. This includes types of violence that are common amongst the general population, like domestic and family violence and sexual assault. However, it also includes institutional and medical forms of violence that are less common generally, such as abuse from carers and reproductive health violence like forced sterilisation, forced abortion, and forced contraception. Studies and surveys of people with disability have also found that:

  • people with disability experience violence at much higher rates (47%) than people without disability (36%) [1]
  • an estimated 57% of women with disability have experienced sexual harassment or sexual violence [2]
  • many women acquire disability as a result of violence. In Australia, 40% of victims who are hospitalised due to family violence develop a sustained brain injury. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are more than 32 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of domestic violence than non-Aboriginal women [3]
  • 20% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with a mental health condition experience physical violence compared to 9% of people with other long term health conditions [4]
  • 85% of women with psychosocial disability have felt unsafe in hospital. [5]
Tip: For more information about women with disability and violence, download the WWDA Position Statement 1: The Right to Freedom From all Forms of Violence

Responding to violence

If you see someone being violent or become aware that a woman or girl with a disability is being abused, it is your responsibility to make sure they are supported.

We have provided a video and tips below to help you.


Watch the 1800RESPECT video about supporting women who have experienced violence.

Bystander intervention

Bystander intervention is when you see or become aware of someone being violent and step in. Bystander intervention can take many forms. Depending on the situation, you can:

  • talk to the person who is being violent
  • talk to the victim/survivor and offer information for support services
  • ask a professional for help. For example, if you are at a hospital, you could tell a nurse
  • call the police and ask for help
  • ask someone else to step in.
Is someone you know being abused in a relationship?

The Domestic Violence Resource Centre booklet can help you take action.
Download the booklet in multiple languages on the Domestic Violence Resource Centre website (external link).

1800RESPECT

1800RESPECT is an Australian nation-wide service that offers information, counselling and referrals to women who are experiencing or have been subjected to violence, abuse or sexual assault.

If you know someone experiencing violence and are not sure what to do, giving them the details for 1800RESPECT is a good first step. 1800RESPECT can be contacted on 1800737 732 or online (external link). You can learn more about responding to violence on the 1800RESPECT website (external link).

Accessible services

While we know that violence affects all women, it is often reported that services are not well equipped to support women and girls with disability who report violence. If you work for a disability or violence prevention service, there are things that you can do to prepare yourself and your organisation for supporting women with disability who experience violence.

For example:

  • use the national Disability Standards (external link) to undertake an accessibility audit of your service and develop a code of conduct for staff that is inclusive of women with disability
  • undertake Lifeline’s DV-Alert: Domestic and family violence response training (external link)
  • have information readily accessible for all staff about nation-wide services that you can refer to, such as 1800RESPECT and use the 1800 RESPECT: Disability Support Toolkit (external link)
  • include women with disability on your services’ Board
  • ask women with disability what they think needs to be done to make your service more inclusive
  • download and read the resources provided below.

Footnotes

[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019) People with Disability in Australia (external link).

[2] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019) People with Disability in Australia: Sexual Harassment (external link).

[3] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019) Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence in Australia: Continuing the National Story (external link).

[4] Australian Bureau of Statistics (2016) National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (external link).

[5] Victorian mental illness awareness council, cited in Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (2014) Beyond Doubt: The Experiences of People with Disabilities Reporting Crime – Research Findings (external link).

Important Resources

Publications
WWDA Position Statement 1: Right to Freedom from Violence
Information from WWDA about the right to safety from all forms of violence and abuse.
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1800RESPECT
A 24-hour confidential information, counselling and support service. Phone or chat online now.
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1800RESPECT: Professionals
This website has information and resources for professionals who support people impacted by sexual assault, domestic and family violence. This includes information on inclusive practice.
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Checklist
Our Site Checklist: Are You Experiencing Violence?
Violence can be hard to recognise when you are the one experiencing it. This checklist can help you identify if you are experiencing violence.
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Australian Human Rights Commission: Ending Workplace Sexual Harassment
A resource for small, medium and large employers about stopping sexual harassment.
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DASH Risk Assessment Model
A violence risk assessment checklist that can be used by frontline workers.
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Guides
Our Site Fact Sheet: What is Violence?
A WWDA fact sheet about the different types of violence.
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1800RESPECT: Disability Support Toolkit
The 1800RESPECT Disability Support Toolkit has resources for front line workers supporting people with disability who have been impacted by violence and abuse.
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Commonwealth Bank: Addressing Financial Abuse
A website providing a series of booklets to help people recognise financial abuse and get help.
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Guides
Women with Disability and Violence: A Workshop for Specialist Disability and Domestic and Family Violence Services
Workshop resources for disability and family violence workers working with women with disability.
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Centre for Applied Disability Research: Research to Action Guides
A Research to Action Guide to help people providing support to people with disability to give the best possible care, supported by science.
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Centre for Applied Disability Research: Disability Knowledge Clearing House
This website exists to help supporters of people with disability to understand what works, for whom, under what circumstances, and at what cost.
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Guides
People With Disability Australia Report: Women with disability and domestic and family violence
A guide for policy and practice in relation to women with disability and domestic and family violence.
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Australian Government: eSafety Commissioner Guide - Online safety
A guide to online safety for parents and carers.
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Identifying Economic Abuse for Women with Disability: A Toolkit
A tool to help people with disability to talk about their money, to identify financial abuse and to get help when they need it.
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Publications
WWDA Report: Improving Service Responses for Women with Disabilities Experiencing Violence
A WWDA report on 1800RESPECT and improving service responses.
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Checklist
Our Site Accessibility Checklist: Written Information
A checklist to help individuals and organisations make sure that any public information they provide is accessible.
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1800RESPECT: Financial Abuse Toolkit
An online toolkit to help you understand financial abuse and get help when you need it.
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Publications
WWDA Report: Preventing violence against women and girls with disabilities- Integrating a Human Rights perspective
A WWDA report about the human rights perspective to preventing violence.  
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Guides
Women With Disabilities Victoria: Our Right to Safety and Respect
A guide for people that support women with disability who have experienced, or are at risk of, violence and abuse. The guide is available in PDF, Word, Auslan, Audio and Braille formats.
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Guidelines for Providing Rights-Based Services to Address Gender-Based Violence and Sexual Health and Rights for Women and Young Persons with Disabilities
A guide about providing rights based services to address gender-based violence and the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and young persons with disabilities.
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WWILD: Resources
Publications and resources to assist family, carers and services to support women with intellectual and learning disabilities who are affected by sexual assault and violence.
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Guides
Employees Who Use Violence: A Workplace Response
A toolkit to assist employers and organisations to respond to violence within the workplace.
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Womens Enabled International: A Practical Approach to Prevent, Address, and Document Domestic Violence under COVID-19
A guide for organisations workers, services and supporters to Prevent, Address, and Document Domestic Violence under COVID-19.
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WDV: Family Violence Response for Women with Disabilities Guide
A guide to help workers and supporters to support women with disability who are affected by violence.
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Where to next:

External website
Australian Human Rights Commission: Disability Rights Publications
On the Australian Human Rights Commission website, you can read and download publications about disability rights in Australia.
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Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS)
The website for an organisation that conducts research into violence against women.
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Australia Says No More
A website providing a powerful, visual way to express support for ending domestic violence and sexual assault.
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DVRCV Book: Is Someone You Know Being Abused in a Relationship?
A booklet created by the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria to help you identify violence and take action as a bystander. Available in 14 languages.
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Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria: Knowledge Centre
A website providing resources for workers supporting women experiencing violence.
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Family Violence Law Help
A website where you can learn about domestic and family violence and the law in Australia.
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Domestic Violence New South Wales (NSW)
A website providing resources on domestic violence for frontline workers in NSW.
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Sexual Lives and Respectful Relationships
Sexual Lives: Respectful Relationships is a program for people with intellectual disability that focuses on talking and learning about sexuality and relationship rights, sexual health, and violence and abuse prevention.
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The LookOut
This website provides information and training opportunities for workers supporting women's safety in Victoria.
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Apps
Daisy App
A free app that connects women around Australia to services that support women who are experiencing or have been subjected to violence.
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eSafety Commissioner
A website helping Australians to have safer, more positive experiences online.
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Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA)
WWDA website where you can find a range of government submissions, reports and publications about women and girls with disability.
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Stop It At The Start Website
The website for a joint Australian, state and territory government initiative to stop violence against women.
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National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
Information about the NDIS for eligible people with disability as well as their supporters and services.
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The Path to Equality for Women and Young Persons With Disabilities
An online resource for disability advocates, as well as service providers, policy makers and academics about supporting the safety and sexual health of young people with disability.
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Safe Choices: Speak Up! About Family Violence
An online practical training guide to assist frontline workers who work with or support women with disabilities to recognise domestic and family violence.
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SOSafe
A website with tools to promote social safety for people with intellectual disability
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Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA)
The website for the national women's alliance advocating against violence against women.
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WWILD
WWILD supports people with intellectual or learning disabilities who have experienced sexual abuse or have been victims of crime. WWILD also works with the families, carers and services who support them.
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Safer: A resource to help Australian Churches Understand, Identify, and Respond to Domestic and Family Violence
A website with resources to help Christian faith communities and churches play a role in ending violence and abuse in families.
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Violence against Women with Intellectual Disability: A Quest for Specific Sexual Violence Prevention Education in Tandem
An article discussing sexual violence against women with intellectual disability, including suggestions for specific prevention strategies and training.
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Women With Disabilities Victoria
A website where you can find a range of resources to support women with disability, particularly those in Victoria.
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Hearing the Silence of Too Many Women with Physical Disability Living with Abuse/Violence
A research paper about the violence experienced by women with physical disability.
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