The ig­nored cur­ricu­lum By Katie Gom­pertz

Monthly Chronicle - - Special Report -

are pur­port­ing that a woman with a dis­abil­ity is 40% more likely to be vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. A sec­ond re­port pur­ports that 70 per cent of women with dis­abil­i­ties had been vic­tims of vi­o­lent sex­ual en­coun­ters. So what can be done?

Now thanks to the in­cred­i­ble ad­vo­cates at Peo­ple with Dis­abil­ity Aus­tralia (PWDA) there is a new pro­gram called Sex­u­al­ity and Re­spect­ful Re­la­tion­ships. It’s de­signed for women with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties FOR women with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties. That’s how ad­vo­cacy works for the bet­ter­ment of so­ci­ety, in con­sul­ta­tion with the peo­ple at the re­ceiv­ing end of a pro­gram.

PWDA have trained eight New South Wales women as peer ed­u­ca­tors to run cour­ses across the state of NSW. Wol­lon­gong men­tor Chloe Kearns, 17, is quoted as call­ing it the "ig­nored cur­ricu­lum". Talk­ing with the ABC a few weeks ago she went on to say, "A lot of my peers in main­stream ed­u­ca­tion get taught about do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, abuse, safe re­la­tion­ships and how to have a healthy life­style in a re­la­tion­ship and a good sex ed­u­ca­tion, un­like me in a sup­port unit. We get life skills and that's it. We don't even touch base with it. I think sex­u­al­ity should be a nor­mal thing in our lives, be­cause other peo­ple get that, like my peers."

PWDA se­nior pol­icy of­fi­cer Mered­ith Lea, also talk­ing with the ABC said “We've spo­ken to peo­ple with dis­abil­ity about the fact that they were ex­cluded from sex and re­la­tion­ships ed­u­ca­tion in school set­tings, ei­ther be­cause they were phys­i­cally ex­cluded from that class, or it might be that they had an in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­ity and they were seen to not re­quire that ed­u­ca­tion for their lives. It's a huge and very se­ri­ous gap," she said. "It can mean that peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence vi­o­lence and they don't nec­es­sar­ily recog­nise it as such be­cause they've not had any in­for­ma­tion pro­vided to them about what is good touch, what is bad touch."

She goes on to say "I've been in a dis­abil­ity sup­port unit all my life and I've had a lot of friends fall vic­tim of rape, sex­ual as­sault, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and abuse.” Even more con­cern­ing was her fi­nal state­ment: "A lot of these girls had no idea where to go to." So this pro­gram will of­fer not only an ed­u­ca­tion and safe en­vi­ron­ment for the women to learn about sex­ual as­sault there will also be a prac­ti­cal el­e­ment to it re­gard­ing where and how to re­port an as­sault.

The project is funded through the New South Wales Do­mes­tic and Fam­ily Vi­o­lence In­no­va­tion Fund. • Women Dead in Oc­to­ber (to date 19/10/18): 8 Women Dead in 2018 so far: 55 •

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