1.1 Deaf Auslan Community


Welcome to Deaf Auslan Community where you will find information about Deaf community in Australia who use Auslan currently. 

Summary – We acknowledge that First Nations in Australia would have had their deaf people in their mobs and their sign languages used in each mob around the Country for thousands of years. The current model of Deaf community in Australia has been in the existence since 1840s, and the core members are Deaf, Deafblind, and hard of hearing people who use Auslan every day for communication and information exchanges. The Australian Census 2021 show there are over 16,000 Auslan users, however it is believed that this is under-reportage. The others that are counted are those non-deaf people who are either family members or works closely with Deaf community – interpreters, teachers, professionals, and many others.

The Deaf community is considered as a Cultural and Linguistic Diverse (CALD) group because the use of the primary sign language - Auslan and the sustaining cultural practices within it. The community itself is quite complex and unique – the members themselves are mostly non-generation deaf with approx. 5% who have deaf families. The language, culture, and customs are passed on through horizontal rather than vertical like many traditional identity groups, such as ethnicity, religion, and nationality.

It is important to acknowledge that Deaf people are not just Deaf people, they are intersectional beings. This could include such identities as First Nations, LGBTQI+, ethnicity minorities, neurodiversity, extra disabilities, and more., which makes it one of the most dynamic and thriving community of all ages around Australia. Language use, lived experiences, community, and common barriers are the main connectors for deaf people, despite levels of education and employment, and locations.

In contrast to the general society, Deaf community is a collectivist group with members supporting each other – of various generations – navigate the non-deaf landscape in every aspect of their life. And it is quite remarkable that the community is still around despite centuries of oppression, abuse, control, and exploitation and that they could keep the sense of belongingness within for generations. Our community remains vital through language, culture, and connection.

Like other CALD communities, members of the Deaf Auslan community also have a life within the broader community.  They will often have parallel social networks in the broader community, especially through their non-deaf family, and most will work alongside non-deaf people, in all sorts of professions and trades.

Here you will see two papers – one as snapshot of Deaf Auslan Community based on data collection the last 2 years; and other one is the Deaf Australia’s position paper on Deaf Community in Australia.

Next after this is about Auslan, the main sign language the Deaf community is using in Australia.

Visual description

Deaf interpreter has short curly brown hair and is wearing a short-sleeve dark blue t-shirt. They are signing in a friendly and informative manner towards the camera.

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