DISABILITY advocate and comedian Stella Young will be the keynote speaker at a forum in Warrnambool this month to stop “horrendous” levels of violence against women with disabilities.
Young was editor of ABC’s recently defunded Ramp Up website for news, discussion and opinion about disability in Australia.
She will speak at the ‘Everybody’s business: taking action to prevent and respond to violence against women with disabilities’ forum at Quality Suites Deep Blue Warrnambool on August 14.
South West Carer and Respite Services Network co-ordinator Wendy Jones said the free forum would address a serious though often overlooked issue.
“Research tells us that women with disabilities experience high levels of family and sexual violence and also face specific barriers that prevent them from accessing help,” Ms Jones said.
“They experience the same kinds of violence experienced by other women but also ‘disability-based violence’.
“The rate of violence towards women with disabilities is quite horrendous but we also know that a lot is not reported or picked up,” Ms Jones said. Research shows women with disabilities find the service system difficult to navigate and often receive responses that are poor and inappropriate.
“We will look at what we can do to prevent violence against women with disabilities and how we can advocate for and empower them to have the skills and knowledge to advocate for themselves,” Ms Jones said.
The forum will also develop action plans to close any gaps in local services.
The forum is being organised by the South West Carer and Respite Services Network in partnership with Women’s Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West.
It will feature a panel discussion including representatives from Women with Disabilities Vic, Disabilities Services commissioner, Office of the Public Advocate, Victoria Police, South West Centre Against Sexual Assault, and Emma House Domestic Violence Services Inc.
The forum is for all staff and management of network member organisations, carers, people with disabilities and organisations interested in taking collaborative action.
Bookings for places at the forum can be made with Mpower on 5561 8111.