AN app has been launched to help women with disability learn about violence and seek support.
Sunny was developed by 1800RESPECT, Women with Disabilities Australia, and an expert advisory group of women with disability.
The app helps users recognise different forms of abuse through scenarios and provides options to seek assistance, including helping the user call 000 in an emergency.
There is a ‘hide’ function, in case the Sunny app needs to be disguised.
Expert advisory group member and disability advocate Angela Barker said barriers to women with disability seeking help included reliance on an abuser, fear, and service gaps in disability and women’s agencies.
“Like many women who are abused, women with disability are usually abused by someone they know, which makes them feel more isolated and less able to report the abuse,” she said.
1800RESPECT general manager Nicole McMahon said existing resources supporting women were not tailored to those with disability, particularly intellectual disability.
“The lack of tailored resources constrains their capacity to safely and effectively engage with services and support,” she said.
Women and girls with disability are more likely to experience violence than women and girls without disability.
One in three women in Australia has experienced physical violence since the age of 15, and one in five women has experienced sexual violence.
Ms McMahon said all women had the right to live safely.
“Women with disability confront significantly more barriers when trying to access support,” she said.
“Sunny uses innovative technology to overcome some of those barriers.”
Ms Barker said including the ideas and voices of women with disability in the app’s creation had been empowering.
“We worked on all aspects of designing Sunny including the support it provides, the words it uses, and how it looks,” she said.
The app is the product of a partnership between 1800RESPECT and Women with Disabilities Australia.
Women’s support organisations WESNET, WWILD, and Speak Out Australia also collaborated to develop Sunny.
Sunny is free and available on iOS and Android.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.