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Auslan translation of ABC Radio Interview re: advocacy campaign for Auslan interpreters at all press conferences


Thomas Oriti 0:03
We're all familiar with the faces of Auslan interpreters at press conferences given the need for important public health messages during the pandemic. Now more than ever, it's crucial that information is accessible to everyone but Deaf Australia is calling on the Prime Minister to be more consistent with providing an interpreter for the Deaf community and his public conferences. ABC News Radio contacted the Prime Minister's office about the issue. They said Mr. Morrison makes every effort to ensure an Auslan interpreter is present in press conferences where urgent communication is needed. And it's unfortunately not always possible due to limited notice or availability. Well, Jen Blyth is the CEO of Deaf Australia, and she joins me earlier with an Auslan interpreter of her own.

Jennifer Blyth 0:49
We're asking for the Prime Minister and the oppositional parties to also provide interpreters, sign language interpreters, for all media press conferences, for all times, if any information is important enough for the wider community to hear and access, it's important enough for the Deaf community to also have access to.

Thomas Oriti 1:10
The Prime Minister's Office says it makes every effort to ensure a certified Auslan interpreter is present. But at this stage of the pandemic, it says critical health informations often communicated at a state or territory level. Can you tell me more about why it's important to you, though, that political press conferences, particularly the Prime Minister's are always accessible.

Jennifer Blyth 1:34
If you are talking about things, as you would know, like recently, there was the women's summit that relates to all women, including Deaf women, as well, that's really important information for us to learn about. It shouldn't only have access provided in emergency situations, we need to be able to take information on that it's important and relevant to us the same way that non-deaf people can act. And that the same goes for First Nations people. And also with the crisis about what's happening in Afghanistan with the refugees, we should also have access to that information as well, the same as the wider community so we can make our informed decisions. And in relation to COVID. I do understand that state based Premiers do have their own press conferences. But if we look back at a national level, what about the information about vaccines to be shared and shared evenly across the federation? The Prime Minister is the head of our state, and he is making decisions for us as a wider population. And we have the right to access to know what is being said. Otherwise, it becomes selective inclusion.

Thomas Oriti 2:39
Have you been in contact with the Prime Minister's office about this yet?

Jennifer Blyth 2:44
We have sent a letter to the Prime Minister's but we haven't had a response.

Thomas Oriti 2:48
Is this just an issue on a federal level for you or is it your view that other politicians and health authorities at such a critical time also need to act?

Jennifer Blyth 3:00
I believe that all across the country at the national, federal and state level, the governments do need to provide access. They're our representation. How can Deaf people make a decision on who they vote for? How can we also practice our citizenship? How can we do that? If we don't have access information at a political level, especially when this information is in relation to health and health distance, the Department of Health at a federal level? They have provided interpreters and Deaf interpreters, which is even better, it is a fantastic standard of access that they're showing. But the Prime Minister's department hasn't.

Thomas Oriti 3:40
The Prime Minister's Office told us they've ensured an interpreter is present when giving urgent information to the public. But they've said that sometimes they'd be unavailable due to short notice. Is that a reasonable excuse when it comes to reaching and organising interpreters and do they need to be more readily available?

Jennifer Blyth 4:01
I am aware that the Deaf Services are able to procure an interpreter at any time because they do see this as a national critical issue to make sure the information is accessible for Deaf people across Australia. So I know that they can ensure an interpreter can be present regardless of short notice. They do also have technology in place to make sure that happens. There are people prepared out there to make sure interpreters can be there at short notice.

Thomas Oriti 4:27
Are you confident at the moment that people in Australia who are Deaf and hard of hearing are getting the public health information they need and on a timely basis.

Jennifer Blyth 4:38
I don't think that Deaf, Deafblind or hard of hearing people in Australia are getting timely, accurate information at the same time as the wider population. And I wanted to add one thing: live captions have a really high error rate. And people laugh about the little mistakes that come up in captions and also the nuances is getting lost in the English language when it is put into captions. It's important. Working with interpreters they're able to interpret for a meaning based translation. It's not English on the hand as interpreters are making sure that the meaning of the message that's being said in English is being conveyed in a culturally appropriate and linguistically appropriate way for the wider community to understand and that really conveys the emphasis and the severity and the true meaning of the message.

Thomas Oriti 5:32
So it's Jen Blyth, the CEO of Deaf Australia joining me there earlier with an Auslan interpreter of her own.

Transcribed by

CE’s update (17 September 2021)


Will be available soon

Auslan Translation: Template Letter to PM urging the use of Auslan interpreters


Your name


Mr. Scott Morrison 
Prime Minister

The Hon Scott Morrison MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House


(or email directly here: <DELETE THIS PART WHEN DONE>

Dear Prime Minister,

I/we have seen that Auslan interpreters were used at your press conferences when COVID-19 was known to be a serious problem around the world and when it came to Australia. I/we have not seen the use of Auslan interpreters continue at your press conferences since then and I/we are concerned about this lapse in accessibility.    

We have become accustomed to seeing Auslan interpreters working next to the Premier in our state on a daily basis at his/her press conferences. It is really important that we are able to access information especially information that is critical, such as the bushfires of 2019/20 and COVID-19. Many Deaf and hard of hearing people are not fluent in English, so captioning is insufficient. Live captioning does not capture the nuance of the press conferences in the same way Auslan interpreters can. Live captioning often contains errors and missing information which is really concerning especially if the missing information is critical.

Auslan interpreters at press conferences on a daily basis should be the norm, not the exception. It does not signify how important the topic is; Auslan interpreters should always be present at your press conferences.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I look forward to hearing your response on this issue that concerns not just me but the Deaf and hard of hearing community too.


Your Name
Your Address
Phone number
Email address

Introducing our team


Hi! I’m excited to introduce this team. I’m Jen Blyth, Chief Executive of Deaf Australia.

Hello, I’m Shirley, I work as a community and development officer.

Hello, I’m Catherine, I work as a content writer.

Hello, I’m Sal, I’m the Auslan Shop co-ordinator.

Hello! I’m Rosalie, I work as an accountant.

Hello, I’m Paula, I’m a resource officer.

Hello, I’m Darlene, I work as a DRC (Disability Royal Commission) support officer.

This is our team, we’re really excited to work with you all in Australia!

Media Release – Masks and Deaf, hard of hearing and Deafblind people


We at Deaf Australia support the mandatory wearing of face masks to assist in the prevention of the spread of COVID-19. We do wish to point out when communicating with Deaf, hard of hearing and Deafblind people this presents a significant challenge regardless of communication preferences. Muffled speech, the covering of lips, obscuring of facial expressions are some of the communication challenges experienced by Deaf, hard of hearing and Deafblind people. Not only that, mask wearing can be awkward and uncomfortable for those who wear hearing aids and cochlear implants. It can irritate Deafblind people with eye issues. We have been made aware of examples where human rights may have been violated through the refusal to communicate appropriately with Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people.

We wish to emphasise the following:

• The States and Territories’ governments have highlighted that communication with Deaf and hard of hearing people is a valid reason to remove the face mask while also maintaining appropriate distancing protocols where possible:
• Victoria
• New South Wales
• Queensland
• South Australia
• Western Australia
• Australian Capital Territory
• Tasmania
• Northern Territory
• We encourage the use of perspex clear face shields to make it easier for Deaf, hard of hearing and Deafblind people to communicate.

There are several strategies to communicate with Deaf, hard of hearing and Deafblind people. These include and are not limited to:

• The wearing of clear masks and/or face shields
• Speech to text apps – with the awareness that it is not always accurate. Masks muffle speech so it may not be accurately translated into text. Additionally, English is often the second language of Deaf people, so this is not always a useful solution
• Using phones with enlarged text to type in messages
• Using traditional pens and papers
• Auslan interpreters and certified Deaf interpreters where longer conversations are involved such as in a legal or medical setting.
• Many places such as convenience stores, supermarkets and cafes already have plexiglass barriers at the counter to protect their employees. These employees should be permitted to temporarily remove their masks upon request to aid with communication with Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing customers.
• These recommendations are meant to work in conjunction with the advice and recommendations of the Chief Public Health Officer/s and are not intended to supersede them.

Please note: It is never appropriate to use a child and/or a family member to interpret. Public officials should always endeavour to book Auslan interpreters (when the Deaf, Deafblind or hard of hearing person requests one) and/or talk directly with the Deaf, Deafblind or hard of hearing individuals using the above strategies.


Media Contact:
Jen Blyth, Chief Executive
SMS ONLY: 0477 551 844

About Deaf Australia

Deaf Australia is the Deaf-led peak organisation representing Deaf people in Australia. We promote the advancement of human rights and equality for Deaf people by collaborating with our members and stakeholders in implementing the United Nations Conventions and the National Disability Strategy. Deaf Australia is for all Deaf, hard of hearing and non-deaf people and organisations (not-for-profit, for profit, or government) that use and/or accept and respect Auslan (Australian Sign Language).

CE’s update (1 September 2021)


Will be available soon

Message from Deaf Australia’s new Chief Executive, Jen Blyth


Hello! I’m Jen Blyth. I am the new Chief Executive here at Deaf Australia. I have only started last Monday, I am in awe with Deaf Austalia’s amazing work to date, amazing team with great staff members. It has been really exciting start, I am thrilled to be part of the team and work with them.

I would also like to acknowledge the last Chief Executive, Kyle Miers who have worked with Deaf Australia for many years. In the last few months, we had an interim Chief Executive, Rodney Adams. Many thanks to both of them for the work they have done to date.

Moving forward, I really would love to hear from the community, including Deaf, hard of hearing or hearing people, interpreters, CODAs etc. I am keen for you to share with us what you would like to see Deaf Australia do. You can contact me anytime. My email address is My mobile number is 0477 551 844. You can use that number to video call via my mobile or Skype. Otherwise you can search deafaustraliajenblyth on Skype and call me through that. I am also available on WhatsApp, direct text message or through Deaf Australia’s platforms, for example, Facebook or email I am really looking forward to hear from you, and to work closely with you all to make sure Deaf Australia continues to be in good position for many years to come. Thank you.

COVID19 Issues – Disability Royal Commission


Hello, I’m Darlene. The last few days I’ve noticed a lot of posts on Facebook about quarantines, lockdowns, news with interpreters’ accessibility, and more. Especially one post from Sally recently about her experiences during quarantine with the phone calls from Queensland Health. From my observation, it would be good if we all could share more of our experiences with each other as it is getting seriously affecting all of us in Australia.

I work for Deaf Australia as DRC advocacy officer, which means I work between DRC and Deaf Community, and encouraging deaf people to share their experiences with Disability Royal Commission (DRC) so they could investigate how the Deaf Community is being affected by all this, including barriers, lack of listening or observing, discriminations, and more.

This is a good opportunity for us to send our experiences with this time during COVID19, including lockdowns, quarantines, and vaccines, etc. So, I am encouraging you all to do that now, and contact me for assistance at ‘’. Or just do it yourself by filming with your phone camera and send it straight to DRC. Your report (either signing or writing) does not have to be perfect, in right order or even using right content.

When you’re ready, just go to DRC’s website (, find ‘Share your Story’ or ‘Make your submission’. There’s an online form you’d need to fill in with your details (name, contacts, etc) and in the form there’s a part where you can attach a file. Just as simple as that. You could share your story and complain on Facebook, however sending your experiences to DRC will be more effective in long term.

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