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Keran Howe

Women with disabilities are now recognised as a population group that must be considered.

Change Agent

It was a car accident in 1972 that led Keran Howe towards her lifelong dedication to women's health and advocacy for the rights of people with disabilities, particularly women. Keran's first-hand experience of the barriers faced by this group led to her passionate advocacy for improved access to transport, buildings, education and employment.

In her hometown of Deniliquin (NSW), Keran became Citizen of the Year for spearheading a project to make all public buildings wheelchair accessible. As member of the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games Village Group she argued strongly for universal design principles. The Village is now a model Australian example of housing for everyone regardless of age or ability.

Keran is also a passionate campaigner for women's health, in particular reducing the level of violence and sexual assault against women. Her work with the Victorian Women's Disabilities Network seeks to prevent violence against women with disabilities.

In 2004 Keran won a Churchill Scholarship to study hospital responses to women experiencing violence. The results contributed to the Royal Women's Hospital's policy on screening for domestic violence.

Keran was chair of Women With Disabilities Australia, where she advocated to 'whoever would listen'; chair of the Victorian Ministerial Advisory Committee on Women's Health and Wellbeing; member of the Domestic Violence Victoria Board, the Housing Choices Australia Board, Disability Housing Trust, Victorian Women with Disabilities Management Collective and the Victorian Council of Social Services committee. She also represented Victoria on the Australian Women's Health Network.

Keran also helped set up the Women's Individual Needs Clinic at Melbourne's Royal Women's Hospital. This maternity care clinic is internationally recognised for its unique approach to providing highly specialised services, particularly for women with intellectual disabilities.