Gender and Disability Workforce Development Program Funded
20 July 2015 at 12:08 pm
The Victorian Government has announced $400,000 in funding for the state-wide roll out of a program aimed at reducing gender inequality and disability discrimination.
Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, Fiona Richardson, announced the funding to extend the Women with Disabilities Victoria Workforce Development Program on Gender and Disability.
Women with Disabilities Victoria Executive Director, Keran Howe, said the program sought in part to address the level of abuse experienced by women with disability.
“This funding will enable us to build on the valuable learnings and expand the reach of this first of a kind, violence prevention program.” Howe said.
“What we know is that women with disabilities are twice as likely as women and girls without disabilities to experience violence throughout their lives. Gender-based and disability-based discrimination combine to increase the risk of violence for women and girls with disabilities.
“The Women with Disabilities Victoria Workforce Development Program on Gender and Disability seeks to address both gender inequality and disability discrimination. Most disability services have little experience in recognising or responding to violence against women. Many women are forced to remain with abusive partners or carers.”
Michelle, from the Voices Against Violence Research Project, shared her experience of abuse at the hands of her carer.
“[As] my ‘carer’ they’d look to him, and he’d discredit me and then they’d not believe what I’d say. And ‘Oh, she’s just making this up’. The whole community could not believe that this person could do this. It makes it so much harder for the victim to voice something ‘cause they know nobody’s going to believe them,” Michelle said.
Howe said the Women with Disabilities Victoria Workforce Development Program on Gender and Disability would hopefully help women like Michelle.
“Michelle’s experience is too common. Services often miss the signs that women with disabilities are experiencing violence simply because they have inadequate training or systems for recognising the risks. Our research shows that tailored programs and well trained staff are essential to preventing and responding to violence,” she said.
The program, piloted throughout 2014/2015, is designed to change culture across whole organisations, working with women with disabilities, disability support workers, managers and senior executives of disability support organisations to improve gender sensitive and equitable services as a strategy for increasing women’s well-being and reducing gender-based violence.
“A strength of this program is women with disabilities co-facilitating training alongside trainers from women’s health and violence prevention and response services,” Howe said.
“The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) when fully rolled out will provide an opportunity for women with disabilities to have choice and control over the services they use. It is particularly important that the NDIS workforce be trained in understanding gendered violence and apply best practice principles to uphold women’s rights to safety from gender based violence.”