Deaf Australia is always a hive of activity, busy with all sorts of tasks; working hard to make life better for Deaf people. Read more here about what we’ve been up to lately.
- Key Priority 1: Early intervention and education
National Summit on Early Intervention & Education for Deaf & Hard of Hearing People, November 2012
Following the release of the summit report in May, I have met with two of the summit facilitators, Cathy Clark and Leonie Jackson to discuss next steps. We plan to set up a working group to lead the work on putting the report’s strategies into action, and we hope to have the first working group meeting in October in Sydney.
Early Intervention Working Group (Qld)
Attended a meeting of the working group on 18 June.
Australian Federation of Disability Organisations education policy
I provided feedback to AFDO on their education policy, 20 May.
While in Adelaide for the NDIS forum, Gaye Lyons and I joined WFD President Colin Allen on a visit to Klemzig School on 21 June. Klemzig has a co-enrolment (hearing and deaf together in the same classrooms) bilingual education program. It was wonderful to see the children communicating and interacting with each other and with us so comfortably and confidently.
Also while in Adelaide, Colin, Gaye and I attended the graduation event for Deaf students and Auslan students. Colin presented the certificates to the Auslan students and I presented the certificates to the Deaf students, and we joined them all for supper and a chat afterwards. It was a lovely event and we were honoured to be asked to be involved.
Inquiry into the TAFE system
Cathy Clark and I gave evidence to a public hearing of the House of Representatives Committee Inquiry into TAFE, 7 June.
I attended the ANZCED (Australian and NZ Conference of Educators of the Deaf) on 6 and 7 July in Brisbane.
At the last two meetings I attended with DEEWR, about the Disability Employment Services system, I and other advocates pointed out to DEEWR that they need to fund us to do this work. DEEWR has followed up and has offered $41,000 each to 15 disability organisations.
I have not yet received information on what the conditions of the funding are – I will attend a teleconference with DEEWR on 5 August.
AFDO has asked members to meet in Melbourne on 19 August to discuss possible joint projects using some of this funding that we each will get. I will attend that meeting.
- Key Priority 2: Access to communications
Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman
The TIO held a meeting on 6 June to discuss their Disability Action Plan. Kyle Miers represented Deaf Australia at this meeting.
ACCAN is hosting a conference about mobile communications technology and people with disabilities on 14-15 August in Sydney. I will be attending.
Visit by Karen Pelz Strauss
An American expert on telecommunications for deaf people will be in Australia for the M-Enabling conference and ACE has organised a roundtable with her for invited people. Deaf Australia, Deafness Forum and AFDS will jointly host it. Kyle Miers and Todd Wright and I will attend the roundtable on 13 August.
- Key Priority 3: Access to information and media
DisabilityCare Australia / National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
We held a series of general awareness raising workshops about the NDIS in various locations from April to June. I led all of these workshops except those held in Geelong and Gosford.
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Date, Location, # participants
Tuesday 9 April 2013, Geelong Vic (Melissa Lowrie), 25
Wednesday 1 May 2013, Gosford NSW (with DSNSW), 30
Monday 6 May 2013, Burnie Tas, 14
Tuesday 7 May 2013, Hobart Tas, 15
Tuesday 7 May 2013, Launceston Tas, 14
Thursday 16 May 2013, Mackay Qld, 4
Friday 17 May 2013, Townsville Qld, 8
Saturday 18 May 2013, Mareeba Qld, 7
Saturday 18 May 2013, Cairns Qld , 16
Thursday 23 May 2013, Melbourne Vic, 5
Monday 27 May 2013, Sydney NSW, 4
Thursday 6 June 2013, Darwin NT, 5
Tuesday 11 June 2013, Bendigo Vic, 2
Wednesday 12 June 2013, Ballarat Vic, 6
Wednesday 19 June 2013, Perth WA, 50
Wednesday 19 June 2013, Perth WA, 25
Saturday 22 June 2013, Adelaide SA, 45
Thursday 27 June 2013, Brisbane, 65
Total number of participants, , 340
Captioning Working Group
The Working Group will meet again on 22 August.
Cathy Clark represented Deaf Australia at the ACAG meeting on 30th July.
Qld Civil and Administrative Tribunal Hearing on Deaf people and jury service
Our Office Administrator Gaye Lyons, in a personal capacity, filed a complaint against the Queensland Government for discrimination in refusing to allow her to do jury service. The case was heard at the Qld Civil and Administrative Tribunal on 4-6 June. Another staff member and I went along on 5 June to offer support to Gaye, and Gaye and I were then interviewed by Channel 10 TV news. It was on the news that night. The decision on the case has not yet been handed down.
Deaf Jurors research project
We agreed some time ago to be a partner to a research project (an extension of an earlier project led by Jemina Napier at Macquarie University) and the project is now going ahead. It will involve several universities but is led by University of Sydney. Our role is to have a representative on the reference group and help identify Deaf research participants. The first meeting will be in August.
In May I sent a letter to the Deaf Society of NSW supporting their submission to change the Census question about language used at home.
Royal Commission into Child Sex Abuse
I met with one of the Commissioners and the Commission secretary on 3 July to discuss how best to ensure that Deaf people know about the Commission, can access it and tell their stories to the Commission. They were very open to information and suggestions and I expect to have more follow up discussions with them.
DETE Auslan Short Courses
Deaf Australia has had an agreement with the Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment (DETE) to provide Auslan classes for Queensland School staff since January 2009. The provision of these classes had to go to tender again because there is a time limit on how long such an agreement can be. We submitted a tender offer and await the outcome. So all DETE Auslan Short Courses had to stop and there have been no classes since the end of June.
Disability Rights Research Collaboration Roundtable
The University of Sydney and People with Disabilities Australia are collaborating on a new initiative – the Disability Rights Research Collaboration As part of this project they will seek to build links with Disable People’s Organisations working to improve the recognition of rights for people with disability in Australia and the Asia Pacific.
They are hosting a roundtable on Political Participation, Inclusion and Decision Making on 9 August to explore how political participation and decision making for people with disability can be thought about in new ways. I will make a short presentation at the roundtable.
Captioning on free to air TV multichannels
The Department for Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy sent us a letter with two proposals for increasing captioning on free to air TV multichannels. We sent a letter rejecting both proposals, saying that we want 100% captioning between 6am and midnight on all multichannels within three years. (The main channels – ABC, SBS, 7,9,10 must have 100% captioning between 6am and midnight by June 2014).
ALRC inquiry into legal barriers for people with disabilities
The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) is doing an Inquiry into Legal Barriers for People with Disabilities. It appears that they will consult with organisations like Deaf Australia and will also develop discussion papers for us to respond to. The inquiry was announced on 24 July.
- Key Priority 4: Organisational stability and growth
We have done an analysis of our members and stakeholders survey and will put the results on our blog.
Deaf Australia’s board and I and the Deaf Victoria board and Manager had a meeting, followed by dinner together when our board had a meeting in Melbourne on 25-26 May.
We have received a copy of a letter that SA Deaf community have sent to Australia Federation of Deaf Societies requesting help with preventing the sale of the 262 building and their problems with DeafCanDo. Deaf Australia’s board will discuss this at their meeting on 11 August.
Deaf Children Australia
Ann Darwin and I met with DCA on 24 May.
I attended the AFDO members meeting in Sydney 28 and 29 May.
National forum for peaks
The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), which funds Deaf Australia and other peak disability organisations, has requested that AFDO organise a national forum for peak disability organisations. AFDO is continuing to work on trying to set up this forum and I attended a planning meeting by teleconference on 4 July. It has become apparent that FaHCSIA wants this forum to review how the disability peak sector and funding is structured in the future.
Everyone’s funding is under threat including ours.
One of the peak organisations has sent to the Minister a proposal to withdraw direct funding from a number of organisations, including Deaf Australia, and for Deaf people to be included in a cross disability organisation or an organisation for people with sensory disability.
The proposal is included for discussion at our next Board meeting, and I have been working on a document that sets out some thoughts for the review.
This forum will happen on 18 and 19 September.
I believe that Deaf people need representation from an organisation that specifically focuses on Deaf people, culture and issues, and being absorbed into a wider organisation would not be appropriate for the Deaf Community.
We all need to be fully aware of what is going on and ready to get involved with this process in a meaningful way, in order to have a strong presence and protect our members’ rights for the type of representation that best suits them now and into the future.
You can help us show that Deaf people need their own representative organisation by becoming a member of Deaf Australia and telling us what you need us to advocate for on your behalf and encouraging your friends and family to do the same.
Deaf Australia’s board and I attended a meeting with some of the CEOs and board members of the Deaf Societies on 25 May. We discussed how we might better work together in positive ways.
Deaf Australia will host meetings of the new WFD Oceania Region in Sydney on Tuesday 15 October (afternoon) and Wednesday 16 October (morning), as well as the WFD Ordinary Members meeting in the afternoon on 16 October. Peter Davies has very kindly offered to help us with the arrangements for the meetings.
We will also share an information booth with the WFD at the WFD Conference and the International Deaf Festival in October in Sydney in October.
Ann Darwin and I met with Paul Heuston and Teresa Cumpston-Bird on 24 May. Ann Darwin and Paul Heuston signed a Memorandum of Agreement between Deaf Australia and ASLIA.
The State Library of Queensland approached us and the 4Senses team and offered to host a special 4Senses event at the library, as the final event in an extended program they have had running for several months that is about Brisbane’s band culture. It will be a special 4Senses event on Friday night 15 November. Ticket numbers will be limited so be sure to buy your tickets early.