An international campaign, running from 25 November to 10 December, has been boosted by the release of Australian resources for women and children with disability to support them in domestic violence situations.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, led by UN Women (of the United Nations organisation) coincides with International Human Rights Day on Friday.
The theme of this year’s activism campaign is ‘Orange the world: End violence against women now!’
It seeks to increase awareness, invigorate advocacy work, and promote sharing of knowledge and innovations that will end violence against women.
As part of the campaign, Australia’s peak disability rights and advocacy organisation, People with Disability Australia (PWDA), has released resources to support women and children with disability to access domestic and family violence services.
The resources include three new Easy Read information booklets on abuse, sexual abuse and how to report abuse to the police, as well as a range of new videos and resources for service providers to increase accessibility, developed alongside Domestic Violence New South Wales.
PWDA has developed the resources not only for the campaign but also as part of its Building Access project to enable domestic and family violence services to better meet the needs of women and children with disability.
PWDA’s Building Access Project Manager, Freya Higgins, says the organisation is pleased to be releasing the videos and Easy Read resources to help women in the disability community, especially those at high risk of violence and abuse.
“These new resources will help workers communicate more effectively about violence and abuse,” says Ms Higgins.
“The resources have been created by women with disability, for women with disability, and for workers who want to communicate about violence and abuse in accessible ways.”
Involving women with disability in creating the resources has been key to making them impactful, explains Ms Higgins.
“Women with disability are more than twice as likely as their non-disabled peers to experience sexual, domestic and family violence,” she says.
“Our experiences of violence and abuse are complex, often for longer periods and from multiple perpetrators.
“We need mainstream services to understand our experiences and needs so we can feel safe and included and can get help for violence and abuse.
“Accessible information that helps us understand what we experience, and how we can get help is key.”
The pilot of the Building Access project has improved the accessibility of 20 domestic and family violence services across New South Wales and is now being expanded to help more people through the new resources.
The project targets four key areas – a service’s physical access, its policies and procedures, the accessibility of its information, and the attitudes of staff.
Once a service’s accessibility has been assessed, a report is produced with recommendations to inform a Disability Inclusion Action Plan.
Ms Higgins says a key finding of the pilot program was that services were under-resourced.
“We were working with services which were really enthusiastic and well intentioned and dedicated to becoming accessible and inclusive, but they had difficulty with access to finance and human resources needed to implement recommendations,” she says.
“Services are critically under-resourced and they don’t have the funding and resources at the moment generally to become accessible and inclusive.”
In response to this shortfall, PWDA also offers a range of supports to help domestic and family violence groups to become more accessible through the Building Access project.
These supports include producing an access review of the service or a detailed report on access with recommendations, guidance on how to develop a Disability Inclusion Action Plan, monitoring implementation of a plan, identifying barriers to increasing access, disability awareness and NDIS training, and arranging $2,000 grants towards improving accessibility of the service.
To read more about the Building Access project or view the new domestic violence resources, visit the PWDA website.