This project draws on the insights of 36 women living in New South Wales and Victoria who outlined their experiences of seeking justice and security in the context of violence that they had experienced. As part of their commitment to policyrelevant empirically grounded research, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) commissioned this research. The project was led by researchers from Monash University and People with Disability Australia, hereafter PWDA (representing Disabled People’s Organisations Australia, hereafter DPOA).
This research examines how these women worked to seek redress or support and the pathways and obstacles they encountered. This data has been augmented by interviews with 18 service providers from NSW and Victoria working in disability support services and advocacy organisations, domestic and family violence support services, and legal services. This is a qualitative project which limits generalisability: the aim here is to analyse the experiences these specific women have shared and work to identify patterns that emerge.
Violence in the context of this project was understood to include physical and sexual violence as well as other forms of abuse such as coercive control, emotional abuse, financial abuse, and physical and social isolation. The majority of the cases captured in this report were instances of domestic and family violence defined broadly as violence occurring within a familial or caring context. It included sexual and physical assaults in a range of social and living environments. In addition, violence was understood to take particular forms such as withholding required medications or aids, limiting access to disability services and/or mainstream service providers and threats related to women’s mothering and care-giving roles. Violence that violated women’s sexual and reproductive autonomy, including forced or coerced sterilisation was also commonly reported. Avenues to seek desired justice, which may include prevention of future violence, everyday security and safety, and consequences for the perpetrators of violence are complex, as justice services and pathways may not effectively support the access of women with disability.
This report reiterates findings that already exist in the public domain. As the context review makes clear, these issues of violence and access to justice have been the focus of multiple reviews and interventions within Australia in the last five years.