Information for Supporters and Services
All women and girls with disability have a right to make their own decisions about their bodies, relationships and sexual health.
Friends, family members, support people and services have a responsibility to learn how they can best support the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls with disability.
Watch WWDA's video about women with disability's sexual and reproductive rights:
While women and girls with disability have the same sexual and reproductive rights as women without disability, the reality is that their rights are often not supported. In Australia:
- women with disability are often assumed to be asexual and denied the freedom to be in romantic relationships and have sexual experiences
- women with disability experience high rates of forced contraception, sterilisation and abortion 
- women with intellectual and learning disabilities have their children removed approximately 15-50 times more often than women without disability 
- women with disability are almost twice as likely as men with disability to experience sexual harassment (57% compared to 28%) 
- only around 15% of women with intellectual disability have a regular cervical screen compared to over 70% of women in the general population. 
Tip: For more information and statistics on violence against women with disability, download the WWDA Position Statement 4: Sexual and Reproductive Rights.
Women with disability and sex
Whether you are a family member, friend or support person, it is important to recognise that women with disability have sexual desires just like everyone else. They have a right to have consensual sexual experiences.
Women with disability should never be denied the ability to make their own choices about their relationships or sexual health. Supporters and service organisations can support women with disability to make healthy choices by offering information that is reliable and accessible.
There are lots of resources at the bottom of this page which may be helpful.
Sterilisation and children
While everyone has the right to make decisions about their body, forced contraception and sterilisation of women and girls with disability is a practice that unfortunately remains common in Australia.
Women with disability have the same rights as everyone else to have children and get the support they need to be parents.
It is not OK to force sterilisation upon anyone, regardless of their disability. Forced sterilisation has been identified as an act of violence, a form of social control and a form of torture by the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Torture, and as a form of violence by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC). For many years now, the United Nations has told Australian governments that Australia should have a national law that prevents women and girls with disability from being forcibly sterilised.
Services and supports
Sex workers and therapists
People with disability have the same rights to access sex therapy and sex work services as everyone else. For many people with disability, accessing sex work services can be the only way to access and enjoy sexual pleasure and can be an important form of therapy.
Note: Sex work is illegal in some states in Australia.
Did you know?
Touching Base is an organisation that links people with disability with trained disability sex workers in Australia. Learn more on the Touching Base website (external link).
The NDIS and sex
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) currently only supports access to sex therapy but not sex work. Women with disability who are NDIS participants and need support to have sex should talk to the NDIS about whether it can be supported.
If you provide sexual health information or services, it is important to ensure they are accessible for people with disability. Some things you can do include:
- use the national Disability Standards (external link) to conduct an accessibility audit of your service and develop a code of conduct for staff that is inclusive of women with disability
- make sure that any information you provide is offered in a variety of formats, such as audio, video, print, digital and Easy Read formats
- make sure that staff are trained in providing sexual and reproductive health services to people with disability. Find training courses on the family planning website for your state or territory (external link)
- have information readily accessible for all staff about accessible violence response services that you can refer to, such as 1800RESPECT and use the 1800 RESPECT: Disability Support Toolkit (external link)
- download and read the resources provided below.
 Women With Disabilities Australia (2016) Position Statement 4: Sexual and Reproductive Rights
 Intellectual Disability and Health (2019) Parents with Intellectual Disability (external link).
 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019) People with Disability in Australia: Sexual Harassment.
 State Government Victoria (2011) Pap tests and Victorian Women with Intellectual Disability (external link).