New workshop focuses on improving outcomes for women living with disability experiencing domestic violence

Activ Pathways has partnered with Patricia Giles Centre for Non-Violence to facilitate a workshop designed to upskill and inform the family and domestic violence sector on supporting women and children with disability who are experiencing domestic violence.

Due to a variety of factors including accessibility barriers, women living with disability statistically experience a higher prevalence of violence and access services at a lower rate than women without disability. The Disability Royal Commission found 52% of women with cognitive disability have experienced intimate partner violence; 15.9% of women with disability or a long-term health condition reported experiences of violence in the last 12 months compared to 4.3% of women without disability; and fewer than one in three (29%) report the incident to police.

The ‘Modified Service Delivery’ pilot initiative is funded by the Department of Communities and is designed to bridge the gap between the Family and Domestic Violence and Disability Services sectors, in order to better support not only women living with disability but also women with children living with disability who are experiencing domestic violence.

Developed by Patricia Giles Centre for Non-Violence and facilitated in partnership with Activ Foundation’s registered training organisation Activ Pathways the workshop provides participants with valuable information about the intersection of family and domestic violence and disability, including a basic understanding of disability, the barriers people with disability face when accessing FDV services, and strategies to address said barriers.

The workshops also include information on referral pathways and how to make meaningful connections when offering support.

Activ CEO Michael Heath is confident the workshops will help improve standards surrounding women living with disability seeking help.

“Women and children living with disability are amongst our most vulnerable and it is crucial that in the tragic instance of domestic violence, those bodies who may come into contact with them are adequately prepared to offer them the highest standards of support,” Mr Heath said.

“Domestic violence is a national epidemic and Activ Pathways are proud to be partnering with the Patricia Giles Centre for Non-Violence to deliver these workshops.”
Patricia Giles Project Lead Sophie Keay says she has been cheered by the response.

“Service providers in both sectors have been really receptive to our workshops and seeing organisations motivated to adapt and change is heartening. They recognise this is a much-needed
service and are finding out what they can do to support women living with disability and parents of children living with disability.”

The workshops also ensure participants leave armed with a significant resource toolkit. A separate workshop under the Modified Service Delivery pilot is facilitated by Patricia Giles Centre for Non-Violence in partnership with Sexual Health Quarters, tailored to Disability Services and showcasing content pertaining to the unique ways women living with disability can experience intimate partner violence and how to respond appropriately. Participants are also informed on what types of FDV services are available, how to refer through to get support, and what carers’ roles are if a client is a woman living with disability or parent of a child living with disability.

The project’s co-design component is currently in development and aims to produce resources specifically to help women living with disability identify their own experiences.

Sophie explained there is a heartfelt element of giving back in the co-design team. “An ex-client of our organisation who is parent to two children living with disability got in touch with us to join the group, as she wanted to return the support she got and give back to others in need of help,” she said.

“It’s been wonderful receiving these messages.”

Workshops have taken place in June and August, with more scheduled for September and early October. Upcoming workshops are almost at capacity and include attending representatives from key organisations, including the Centre for Women’s Safety.