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Deaf Australia Activities for January – February 2014

Deaf Australia Activities for January – February 2014

Deaf Australia activities feb 14

This is my final activity report. I am retiring from Deaf Australia at the end of February 2014.

Working for Deaf Australia has been a great privilege and I have enjoyed 13 wonderful years as Executive Officer. It has often been frustrating and difficult, but always interesting and challenging and the achievements have been very satisfying.

Thank you to the many many people who have supported me in my work for so many years. I trust that the support I have enjoyed will be extended to Deaf Australia’s new Executive Officer (yet to be announced). I look forward to catching up with friends and colleagues when I am out and about in the Deaf community and the disability community in the coming years. 

Key Priority 1: Early intervention and education

Early Intervention & Education Working Group

Deaf Australia is setting up a new Working Group to focus on Early Intervention and Education. We have invited representatives from six organisations as well as Deaf Australia, to join the working group. We have also called for expressions of interest in two independent community representatives positions. The Working Group will hold its first meeting on 6th March 2014.

Senate Inquiry into the TAFE system

Last year The House of Representatives held an Inquiry into the TAFE system. We sent in a submission and Catherine Clark and I gave evidence to a public hearing of the committee. When the government changed in September 2013, this Inquiry lapsed.

The issue has now been referred to the Senate for Inquiry and this Inquiry will consider submissions and evidence given to the previous Inquiry so we do not need to do another submission.

Employment

Rachel Byrnes is continuing to organise workshops for deaf people around the country up to the end of June 2014. These workshops are about the Disability Employment Services (DES) and we encourage anyone who has ever been a job seeker to attend, whether or not you have used a DES.

The following workshops have been held/organised, with a few more still to finalise:
Newcastle – 12 February
Sydney – 13 February
Mareeba – 21 February
Cairns – 22 February
Toowoomba – 27 February
Darwin – 24 April
Melbourne – 1,2 May
Hobart – 15 May

The Department of Social Services (which is now responsible for DES) is holding another Consumer Day in Canberra on 10 April and Rachel will attend for Deaf Australia. She also plans to hold another workshop in Canberra before or after 10 April.

Productivity Commission Inquiry into Child Care

With Parents of Deaf Children and Australian Federation of Deaf Societies we sent a joint submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Child Care and Early Childhood Learning, 3rd February 2014. Policy advice paper on deaf children’s participation in NAPLAN Each year we must do a policy advice paper for the Department of Social Services (DSS). This year our paper will be on deaf children’s participation in NAPLAN.

To help us gather information for this paper, we have developed an online survey. If you are a parent or a guardian of a deaf child, please answer the survey. If you do not have deaf children yourself, please tell other people who do have deaf children about the survey. The survey is at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2014_deaf_educational_benchmarking

Key Priority 2: Access to communications

Interpreters on broadcasts of emergency information

The Deaf Australia board wants to see standard procedures in place for Auslan interpreters on TV emergency broadcasts.

We sent letters to all state and territory governments and the Australian government about this issues. We also contacted FreeTV to ask whether there are guidelines for TV stations on filming and broadcasting of Auslan interpreters on TV emergency broadcasts.

AFDO ‘Sector Action Plan’

Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) has arranged a teleconference early in March to guide the development of a ‘Sector Action Plan’ to enable collaborative work on three issues. These three issues were identified at the Policy Forum held in Canberra in November, which Ann Darwin and I attended.

Unfortunately we are not able to send a representative to the teleconference meeting, but Kyle Miers, as Deaf Australia’s liaison person on AFDO members matters, has sent comments to AFDO on the meeting discussion paper.

Key Priority 3: Access to information and media

National Disability Insurance Scheme

We sent comments on the draft National Disability Insurance Agency Strategic Plan 2013 – 2016 to the NDIA in January.

National Disability Strategy

DSS has requested that we consult with the community on the impact of the first stage of the National Disability Strategy (2011-2014) and send a report to them so that they can include community views in their report to COAG (Council of Australian Governments) later this year.

We sent out an online survey, it is at www.surveymonkey.com/s/YXY9DXV

We also held workshops:
Brisbane – Monday 17 February 2014
Hobart – Thursday 20 February 2014
Melbourne – Friday 21 February 2014
Adelaide – Saturday 22 February 2014
Perth – Sunday 23 February 2014

Thank you to everyone who attended workshops and participated in the discussions and feedback.

Two weeks before the workshops started, I attended a teleconference briefing meeting with DSS and other national disability organisations, about the consultations. The original timeframe for the consultations was very tight and we were required to send a written report to DSS by 14th March.

However, following the briefing meeting, DSS agreed to extend the timeline for the report on consultations to 30 April.

The closing date for the survey has therefore been extended to 15th April.

Australian Law Reform Commission review of equal recognition before the law and legal capacity for people with disability

We sent a submission to this review in January. Our submission makes one recommendation – that the Australian Government create a legal instrument recognising Deaf people’s right to use Auslan, and then explains why this is important and how it will lead to Deaf people achieving other human rights. It was a very difficult submission to write. It was mostly written by Kyle Miers, with advice and input from me. A big thank you to Kyle for all his hard work.

I also provided comments to AFDO on their submission to this review.

ACCAN position statement on CAPTCHA

ACCAN developed a ‘community position statement’ about CAPTCHA – basically saying that the use of these things should be discontinued because they prevent many people with disabilities (especially blind, deaf and deaf/blind people) from accessing websites that use them. I sent an email on 21st January agreeing that Deaf Australia would endorse the statement.

NABS use of “signed English” as an interpreting option on their iPhone App

I sent a letter to NABS in January, at the request of WAAD, requesting that they remove the reference to signed English on their iPhone app. I had previously raised this with them, and so had WAAD. NABS has agreed to this request.

Joint NGO Report of Australia’s Human Rights Record

The National Human Rights Network of the National Association of Community Legal Centres has put together a Report of Australia’s Human Rights Record: An Update on Australia’s progress towards implementing Universal Periodic Review recommendations for the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a process through which the human rights records of countries can be reviewed and assessed. The review is conducted by the United Nations Human Rights Council. In 2015 the Australian Government is due for its next review.

The report was prepared by 18 Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and highlights the key areas where the human rights situation in Australia needs strengthening. It is hoped that this report will remind the Australian Government of the recommendations it has yet to implement, before it appears on the world stage in 2015.

Deaf Australia was invited to endorse the report and we accepted this invitation.

NSW Government Agency Guide for Effective Communication for People with Sensory Disabilities

The NSW Department of Family and Community Services sent us a draft of a document for NSW Government Agencies about how to communicate with people who are deaf or blind. I sent feedback in February.

Key Priority 4: Organisational stability and growth

Information management

Interpreting complaints

An information sheet on interpreting complaints was finalised and will be on the new website.

We received a copy of the media release sent out by Drisana Levitzke-Gray about her participation in jury selection in WA and we congratulate Drisana on her achievement. However, many people were confused and believed that Drisana had actually served on a jury. So we tried to make it clear in a story on our blog that Drisana had participated in the jury selection process, with an interpreter, but had not been chosen in the final random ballot to actually serve on a jury. One of our board members, Ida Rogers translated our information t into Auslan for the blog.

New website

We have been working very hard to finish development of a new website before I leave Deaf Australia at the end of February. The new website will probably be up and running early in March.

Partnerships

State Branches:

State branches and Tasdeaf helped us with organising venues for the workshops about the NDS in February.

ACCAN – EAGER Research project on developing standards for Auslan translations

The project committee continued to meet monthly on Skype.

Senate Inquiry into the TAFE system

I sent a copy of our submission to the Inquiry into the TAFE system to the Deaf Society of NSW for their information and use in a submission they were planning.

National Disability Strategy consultations

I invited Deaf Societies to have their regional staff collaborate with us by running workshops for people in the regions, using the workshop materials I developed and used in our workshops on the National Disability Strategy consultations. Unfortunately they were unable to do this, mainly due to the timing.

Productivity Commission Inquiry into Child Care

We were very pleased to partner with Parents of Deaf Children and Australian Federation of Deaf Societies on the joint submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Child Care and Early Childhood Learning. This submission was led by Parents of Deaf Children.

Leadership

Rachel Byrnes worked with Jane Prentice MP to help her prepare a short speech to the Parliament in Auslan. Mrs Prentice is the Federal member for the electorate that includes Toowong State School. The school and Queensland Association of the Deaf held a joint Festival in October last year, which Mrs Prentice attended. She planned to make a short speech to Parliament about the Festival and wanted to make it in Auslan. Rachel worked with her to teach her how to sign her speech.

Posted in: Deaf Australia Activities

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