For "World Sexual Health Day" this year the The World Health Organisation focused on “Sexuality Education for all: a bridge to sexual health” and emphasized "the need for comprehensive relationships and sexual health education".
Last week a joint media release by People with a Disability Australia and Touching Base raised the need for the N.D.I.S (National Disability Insurance Scheme) to develop a Sexuality Policy for participants.
This action was in response to the recent ruling by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (A.A.T) regarding the challenge for N.D.I.S funding for sex therapy. Matthew Bowden the Co-CEO of People with Disability Australia said "the applicant was a brave woman with disability who is determined to have the same rights as non-disabled people to an adult sex life".
Conversations: Hearing from people living the experience.
Since the inception of "Stabilise" over five years ago, we have been part of a broad range of conversations with people living with disability, their partners, support networks and sector workers in Health, Community and Disability services. The most powerful conversations have been with people who have talked about being made to feel that their disability excluded them from being acknowledged as sexual beings.
Discussions included feeling ashamed or embarrassed if they tried to get sexual health education, information or discuss sexual needs. Often this was exacerbated by structural attitudes labeling any sexual desire, drive or experience as deviant or inappropriate and reinforced with terms such as "sexually inappropriate behavior" and "behaviors of concern" .
Interestingly, most people just nod when these terms are used without questioning the context of the behavior or understanding the situation. For example, workers making complaints because they have walked unannounced into someones room or bathroom and found the resident masturbating.
The point is that MOST people masturbate in their bedrooms or bathrooms without having someone open the door, record, discuss, make files notes or be subjected to peoples judgement in their own homes.
If anyone had a right to complain it was the resident for having their privacy invaded!
We welcome and support Touching Base and People with a Disability Australia in the call for the development of an N.D.I.S. Sexuality Policy. It is hoped that the policy would ensure the input of people with a disability being central to the process and based on a rights model!
Human Right and Human Need!
There are identified basic needs for all humans - water, food, breathing (in and out!) shelter, sleep, homeostasis*, excretion and Oh, Look! Sex!
There is significant research that shows sex improves a persons immunity, reduces health issues such as blood pressure and prostate cancer, relieves pain and improves sleep, so all good outcomes and well worth promoting and including in person centered funding!
Acknowledging Sexual Rights pioneers!
There have been a number of individuals and organisations who have been at the forefront of disability sexual rights advocacy including (but not limited to!) Dr George Taleporos, Touching Base, House with No Steps (who developed sex positive policies in their organisation).
If you would like more information about any or all of these amazing people and organisations- just click on their information and the link will take you to their website pages.
* The definition of homeostasis is the ability or tendency to maintain internal stability in an organism to compensate for environmental changes. An example of homeostasis is the human body keeping an average temperature of 36.5–37.5 °C degrees (97.7–99.5 °F).
When the NDIS was first implemented, clients asked if "Stabilise" was a registered NDIS provider.
It was a path we were reluctant to go down because we believe that all people have a right to access sex toys, Sex Workers or therapists, have intimate consensual relationships and for sex education to be available without having to go to court to meet a Government criteria.
"Stabilise" is now a registered provider in recognition that people would not be able to access products without N.D.I.S funding and therefore it is important that we make this option readily available.
The Adult products sold through Stabilise include options that are discreet and reduce the need for support workers to be involved such as USB charged and waterproof options. Products included aim to enable, enhance and improve sexual experiences.
Products can also be sourced for individual requests!