[ She · Boo · Ee ] 

Simple and yet complicated at the same time  

With over 20 years of experience between them in the disability sector, co-founders Emily Bielefeld and Brigette Kirkpatrick created Shibui Services. Shibui Services is a charity, based in the Hunter, specifically for persons with a disability (PWD) who have, are, or at risk of experiencing any type of abuse or violence.  

Since before the years of COVID-19, Emily and Brigette have been working tirelessly to build Shibui Services into a safe space for PWD to have access to advocacy and gain skills in self-empowerment. We want to stay positive, but we need to address why this was started… below are the startling statistics. 

More than 70% of women with a disability have been victims of violent assault and within this, 1 in 4 women with a disability have experience sexual violence after the age of 15. 

1 in 2 have experienced violence after the age of 15 and 1 in 5 before the age of 15. 

43% of PWD have experienced physical violence 

*these statistics have been gathered from Women with Disabilities Australia and the Australian Bureau of Statistics* 

This hurts. This hurts a lot. To see how PWD do not have a voice and are continuously abused and neglected.  

So, this is where Emily and Brigette come in. Being in the disability sector for so long, seeing the mistreatment and abuse of PWD, they wanted to make a change.  


Starting in 2021, the co-founders introduced C.R.E.W.S: 

Confidence – Resilience – Education – Wellbeing – Safety 

The point of CREWS is to allow PWD to explore what healthy and safe relationships are compared to unhealthy and unsafe relationships. On top of this, CREWS explores self-care, web safety, and boundaries. So far, there has been four women’s groups and one men’s group.  

So, a little bit of a detour to the article but I am a support person with Shibui Services and therefore, have a bit of inside intel when it comes to the groups and everything Shibui-related. I am technically a support person, but I am also admin, resource development, and social media manager… honestly it is a lot of fun! 


Anyway, back to the actual point of this.  

The groups have been absolutely amazing. Some of the feedback we received was “this is what I imagine a safe relationship to look like”, and we now have multiple people wanting to volunteer for Shibui after finishing the program. The women who have attended the groups, as said by our facilitators and co-founders, all have a “light-bulb moment” where experiences they have had just fall into a “ohhhhhhh… that’s what this is…” situation. It is hard to see it, knowing someone has had a massive realisation about a personal situation, but also… oh my lord, the outcome is amazing. You see these women go, yeah, I understand now, and I want to learn more.  

A major part of the feedback was surrounding wanting to know and learn more. CREWS was created as a foundational and fundamental step. A FREE fundamental step. CREWS do not cost anything for PWD, not even from their funding (like NDIS), because Shibui believes that everyone should have access to education that will create those foundational grounds to create healthy and safe relationships.   

Looking into the future, Shibui wants to create an advocate program, workshops, and a mentoring program for wellbeing, and implementing what PWD learnt from the original CREWS program.  

Thank you to Emily and Brigette who continuously put themselves out there to make a difference to the disability world and advocate for PWD. 

Ivy-Rose Laidler

Ivy-Rose Laidler

Hey! My name is Ivy-Rose! I’m the student life columnist and contributor for the Opus mag! I love writing about life as a student, the societal expectations, and experiences that help us grow and shape us to who we are today – as individuals and a collective! When I’m not contributing to Opus, I’m helping out local charity organisations SHIBUI Services and What Were You Wearing as well as creating content!