Program empowers women

July 19, 2017

Learning together: Participants in the Enabling Women program and their mentors gather at Cobram Community House.

Cobram Community House business development co-ordinator Sally Bate said the Enabling Women program was now up and running and providing a positive boost for the women involved.

‘‘We’ve had very encouraging responses. I think there are a number of women who have seen this as a great learning experience and an opportunity to engage with other women with a disability and develop their skills and advocacy,’’ Ms Bate said.

‘‘We are expecting some very positive outcomes. From the talk and the laughter I hear coming out of the classroom, I think it’s got to be good.’’

The Moira Shire-based project brings in participants from Cobram, Numurkah, Nathalia and Shepparton as well.

‘‘We advertised. We promoted the program through the paper and other means,’’ Ms Bate said.

‘‘The program has been run successfully previously in north-east Victoria with great success and one of the people involved in the program is Jenny Godwin and she is now working as the mentor co-ordinator for this program.’’

The program is run by Women with Disabilities Victoria and involves 13 local women.

It has been supported by the Moira Shire, DHHS, Women’s Health Goulburn North East, Moira Healthcare Alliance (MHA) and Women with Disabilities Victoria (WDV).

A reference committee with representatives from Cobram Barooga Soroptimist International, MHA, Cobram Community House, Moira Shire, Rural Access and PALS is overseeing the program.

Women with disabilities experience significant disadvantage and discrimination which restricts inclusion and participation in their community.

Women with disabilities are twice as likely as women without disabilities to experience violence throughout their lives, as well as high levels of unemployment, homelessness and economic hardship.

The Women with Disabilities Victoria Enabling Women training program is based on a human rights framework.

Twelve women with disabilities are elected to develop their leadership skills, knowledge and insights about leadership and be supported to become more involved in their local community.

The program runs for six weeks, with five sessions and a graduation.

Through the establishment of a local reference group comprising community members and leaders, the program builds both individual and community capacity to support graduates after completion of the training.

In partnership with WDV, Cobram Community House will lead, co-ordinate and evaluate a WDV Enabling Women program in Cobram with the aim of:

●developing knowledge and skills for advocacy, leadership and community inclusion for regional women with disabilities;

●providing women mentors, new networks and organisational partnerships to support future individual and community capacity building for women with disabilities;

●evaluating the women’s empowerment model with best practice tools to inform future regional planning;

●offering a regional leadership opportunity for Moira Shire in addressing disadvantage and barriers experienced by rural women with disabilities;

●providing an opportunity for employment for women with disability;

●implementing and evaluating an empowerment model through a regional service provider; and

●demonstrating point of difference and application of inclusive practice and capacity building in action.

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