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Disability Pathways Project

  • The 1800RESPECT Disability Pathways Project aimed to improve service referral pathways and responses for people with disability who have been impacted by domestic, family and sexual violence
  • 1800RESPECT consulted with some of Australia’s most influential disability advocates and professionals
  • Project outcomes have included the Sunny app, counsellor training and accessible resources.

About the project

The Disability Pathways Project is a response to the 2016 Women with Disabilities review of 1800RESPECT. Funded by the Australian Government, the project aimed to improve service referral pathways and responses for people with disability who have been impacted by sexual assaultdomestic and/or family violence.

The two year project commenced in 2017 and brought together some of Australia’s most influential disability advocates and professionals to form an Expert Advisory Panel (EAP).

People with disability are 1.8 times more likely to experience violence and abuse, including more varied forms of abuse. (Source: AIHW Report 2019.) They are also less likely, and take longer to reach out for support.


The project was underpinned by a national consultation, connecting with over 150 support services and organisations in 21 locations around Australia. The project partnered with domestic and family violence, sexual assault and disability support services to encourage more people with disability who have been impacted by violence and abuse to reach out for support.

The consultation revealed common challenges, including barriers to understanding types of violence and abuse, barriers to seeking support, and difficulty in sharing their stories.

Counsellor training

The project developed and delivered disability awareness training to all 1800RESPECT counsellors and developed a framework to deliver ongoing training refreshers for continual improvement. The training increased counsellor awareness and information about specific barriers to support for people with disability.

Service directory and referrals

1800RESPECT improved referral pathways by reviewing and updating the counsellor referral database. These services are also listed in the 1800RESPECT Service Directory on the 1800RESPECT website, and the information is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition, the Service Directory functionality has been updated to improve accessibility.

1800RESPECT also identified and approached a number of disability support services to develop warm referral pathways for people with disability who contact 1800RESPECT, are not in crisis and would like to connect to an individual advocacy service in their state and territory. This means more people with disability impacted by violence will have more appropriate ongoing support.

Awareness campaign

In August 2019, the That is Violence campaign was rolled out nationally to increase awareness of violence and abuse, and how to reach out for support. Campaign resources are available on the 1800RESPECT website and YouTube channel for people to view and share at any time.

Accessible resources

A number of stakeholder resources were identified or developed to improve the quality of service provided by the sector more broadly. 1800RESPECT worked closely with Deakin University who evaluated the implementation of practical resources into ten sexual assault, domestic and family violence or disability services across Australia. These resources included the ANROWS ‘Whatever it takes’ report summary, the 1800RESEPCT Sunny app, Easy English booklets and disability awareness training. These resources are evidence based, user group tested and easy to use.   

On 23 March 2020, 1800RESPECT launched the Disability Support Toolkit. The toolkit contains guidelines, videos and Easy English booklets. These resources will be available to those working in the sexual assault, domestic and family violence and disability sectors.

ANROWS evaluation

1800RESPECT Disability pathways project was evaluated by Australian National Research for Women’s Safety Services (ANROWS). ANROWS provided recommendation throughout the life of the project. These recommendations were implemented into the disability pathways project to ensure the goal of project was being delivered.

For more information about the evaluation, please see the documentation on the ANROWS website.

Expert Advisory Panel (EAP)

1800RESPECT wishes to thank the following organisations for their involvement on the project’s EAP. Their expertise, experience and networks have been invaluable in assisting 1800RESPECT to improve access to 1800RESPECT and improve the quality of support.

Domestic Violence Action Centre (DVAC)

People with Disability Australia (PWDA)

Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA)

First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN)

National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA)

Australian National Research Organisation for Women's Safety (ANROWS)

Accessibility and Inclusion Plan

1800RESPECT is committed to providing an accessible service and high-quality responses to people with disability experiencing or at risk of experiencing violence. The service strives to continue to work to improve access and inclusion that exist for people with disability to ensure that all Australians have equal access to 1800RESPECT. This will be achieved by ensuring counsellors are trained in disability awareness, by providing accessible apps and resources for people with disability, and co-designing 1800RESPECT service design projects with people with disability.