The Palaszczuk Government today announced the release of Queensland’s plan to respond to domestic and family violence against people with disability, to continue to drive actions to end domestic violence in Queensland – for all Queenslanders.
Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Di Farmer said that women with disability were particularly vulnerable to domestic and family violence.
“In 2016, women with a disability or long term health condition experienced intimate partner violence at almost twice the rate of other women,” she said.
“While fewer men than women reported being affected by DFV, again men with disability or a long term health condition experienced intimate partner violence at almost twice the rate of other men.
Ms Farmer said in Australia, intimate partner violence caused more illness, disability and deaths than any other risk factor for women aged 25-44 years old.
“To put that into perspective, that means that intimate partner violence is a bigger health risk for women than smoking, drinking, or obesity,” she said.
“One of the most important things we can do to help people with disability is to raise awareness, so people know that what’s happening to them is not okay, and that there is help available.
“So our plan includes finding ways to communicate more effectively with people with disability in ways that are inclusive and accessible.
“Importantly, we will find ways and make sure that people with disability are involved right through the process.
“We’re investing $750,000 over two years to build sector capacity, and build good evidence about what works to help make it easier for women with disability to report family violence and access support.”
The plan contains both immediate strategies to improve service responses as well as initiatives which will pave the way towards a greater understanding of the experiences of people with disability, the strengths of the existing service systems and areas for future collaboration and improvement.
Domestic and Family Violence Implementation Council member Karni Liddell said Women with disabilities are one of the most marginalised and disadvantaged groups in Australia, especially in regards to employment and financial security.
“The fact that both Ministers have dedicated funding and awareness to ensuring women with disabilities are no longer excluded from domestic and family violence policies and services in the future sends a powerful and positive message to all women with disabilities who have or are experiencing domestic and family violence, that they are no longer invisible and that they have a real chance to live a safe, purposeful life,” she said.
“Women with disabilities are one of the most unemployed groups in this country and we understand that violence against women is likely linked to social inequality.
“We must as a community start opening up our doors to employing people with a disability.
“The implementation of this plan will be led by women with a disabilities and I am proud of the work the Domestic and Family Violence Implementation Council has done to shed light on this invisible epidemic in our community.”
Manager of sexual violence prevention service WWILD Leona Berrie welcomed the response, and that it would be led by people with disability.
“I welcome the government’s response to address the violence, abuse and exploitation far too many people with disabilities experience and am pleased that people with a disability will be drivers of this process,” she said.
“This investment signals a greater expectation of the shared responsibility by communities, service providers and government to work collaboratively together to create accessible services and communities that allow for pathways to safety for people with disability experiencing domestic and family violence.
“Accessible communities, government and non-government services are essential to ensuring all Queenslanders have a pathway to safety when experiencing domestic and family violence”.
Minister for Disability Services and Seniors Coralee O’Rourke said evidence showed that women with disability represent about 40 percent of all female victims of intimate partner violence in Australia.
“Queensland’s plan to respond to domestic and family violence against people with disability will raise awareness of the impact of domestic and family violence against people with disability, ensure services are accessible and responsive, and include people with disability with lived experience in its implementation,” she said.
“It’s accompanied by a $750,000 investment over two years, which will support reforms to build sector capacity and capability, and help address the challenges women with disability experience when reporting family violence and accessing support.
“This plan also aligns with All Abilities Queensland (State Disability Plan 2017-2020), which is lifting the bar of access and inclusion.
“In 2019, we will focus on the All Abilities Queensland priority of employment across the public, private and non-government sectors.”
The Queensland plan was informed by a ‘point in time study’ completed by the rights and advocacy organisation, People with Disability Australia (PWDA) in response to Recommendation 10 of the Not Now Not Ever report, which called for the Queensland Government to commission a review to address the impact of domestic and family violence on people with a disability.