Women with Disabilities Victoria are hosting a free community engagement forum this week

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Women with Disabilities Victoria are hosting a free community engagement forum this week

Do you identify as a woman with disability (including chronic health issues and mental illness) living in the Greater Geelong area who would like to learn more about what advocacy and how you can be involved, or do you know someone else who might?

Women with Disabilities Victoria (WDV) and Rights Information and Advocacy Centre (RIAC) is running a free community engagement forum and if extending the invitation to all.

At the event, attendees will learn more about advocacy, speaking up for yourself, and getting support if you need it, alongside hearing all about WDV and their work in Geelong, ways that you can get involved and how to connect with other women with disability near you.

We have a quick chat to Women with Disabilities Victoria’s Lauren Brain ahead of the event.

Can you tell us a little bit about Women with Disabilities Victoria?
Women with Disabilities Victoria (WDV) is the peak body of women with disabilities in Victoria. We work towards the real social and economic inclusion of women with disabilities. We do this through a variety of things, including providing systemic support, advocacy and resources to women with disabilities in leadership roles; working with community services and organisations to ensure they are inclusive of women with disabilities; ensuring services for people with disabilities consider a gender perspective that is responsive to women with disabilities; working in partnership with other disability and women’s organisations; encouraging and undertaking research on issues affecting women with disabilities; and providing a voice for women with disabilities to influence government policy and legislation

What does the organisation do in Geelong?
We have two specific ongoing piece of work in Geelong. The first is a regional Hub, which is part of our Leadership Network for Women with Disabilities. The Hub provides an inclusive space where women with disabilities in Geelong can meet, monthly, and focuses on the following:
-Creating a safe and welcoming space for women to come together
-Providing opportunities for members to connect with other women with disabilities in their local area
-Advocating on local and systemic issues
-Fostering leadership development
-Increasing community awareness on gender and disability

The second piece of work is part of what’s called the Here We Are Project. This project currently works in three areas in Victoria, and in Geelong is partnered with Women’s Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West (WHWBSW). We have a Local Community Builder who works at WHWBSW whose role it is to lead local community capacity building and promote inclusion for women with disabilities in the Geelong area.

What can people expect from the forum?
The forum is an opportunity for women with disabilities to link up and connect. There will be a presentation by WDV about who we are, what we do, how you might get involved with our work. Both the Geelong Hub Liaison Officer and the Here We Are Local Community Builder will be there to talk about their work in Geelong as well. There will also be presentations from Rights Information and Advocacy Centre (RIAC), focusing on disability advocacy, self-advocacy, and barriers that women experience when trying to speak up, and Wellways who will present on mental health advocacy and the work they are doing locally.

We hope that women who attend will be more informed about their rights, advocacy, and where they can seek support in Geelong for issues affecting them as women with disabilities. We also hope that women will be able to connect more with each other, through learning about the Hub and other ongoing opportunities to connect in the community.

How can women go about getting involved in the organisation?
Anybody can become a member of Women with Disabilities Victoria. If you identify as a woman with a disability, membership is free. Membership means you will receive information from us via e-News and a quarterly publication. You will also be invited to our events, such our annual Member’s Lunch etc.

In the Geelong area, women can get involved with us by getting involved with the Hub, or by connecting with the Local Community Builder. It is free for women to become part of the Hub.

The event kicks off on Thursday (May 16) from 10am to 1:30pm at Smith Room, Volunteering Geelong (192 Myers Street, Geelong).