2023 AGM Recap


D: Hi Julie, how are you?

J: Hi Debra, how are you? Tell me what happened at the AGM yesterday? I heard about some changes.

D: Yes, our 37th AGM for Deaf Australia was really successful. A big thank you to all our members who voted for the passing of the motion for two major changes: 1. Change from INC to Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG) and 2. A new constitution with amendments added.

J: Can you tell me more about the change from INC to CLG?

D: Sure, the reason for the change to a company is to make advocacy smoother for Deaf Australia and to make it easier to work with for all of Australia as a CLG.

J: Great! It's a really exciting time for the changes for Deaf Australia and our future.

D: Definitely. I also want to let the community members know that we will update them as we progress with the changes over time from INC to CLG, and with the constitution. We will share the amendments with everyone.

J: It's exciting to see new things happening for the entire Deaf community in Australia.

D: True, it's very exciting for the future of Deaf Australia – really exciting times.

J: Thank you for telling me the updates. See you later. Bye.

Visual description

Debra Swann and Julie Lyons are outside chatting about the events at the recent DA 2023 AGM. Debra is wearing a black shirt and brown jacket. Julie is wearing a red shirt and black cardigan. They both have glasses. They are signing in an animated fashion towards each other. The background is full of Australian native plants in a range of silvery-greens.

2023 Awards Winners Announced!


[JULIE LYONS] Hello hello! How are you?
[KARTHIK VIJAYANANDAM] Hello, I’m good! Yourself?
[JL] Good, thank you. Hey, have you heard about the AGM?
[KV] Yup, I did.
[JL] Can you tell me more about the awards that were announced?
[KV] Yeah, no problem! There were 3 awards presented, I will explain the first 2. The first one is the Deaf Australian of the Year award. The second one is the Deaf Community Volunteer of the Year award.
[JL] Well who are they?
[KV] I will explain now. The Deaf Australian of the Year award goes to Jas Shirrefs (they/them)!
[JL] Can you tell me more about what they are involved in?
[KV] Jas is an impressive advocate for Deaf people. And not only for Deaf people! Also for the Deaf blind community, LGBTQ+ community, and the list goes on.
[JL] Wow all three!
[KV] And not only in Victoria, Australia-wide also. Through their social media they spread information and awareness about a variety of topics. They focus on intersectionality, the Deaf community, and awareness of global news using Auslan. Wow!
[JL] I have heard they are very inclusive, they want to involve everyone including Deaf blind people. Often Deaf blind people are forgotten about and we have to make sure they are included. It’s fantastic.
[KV] Yeah, that’s right. A perfect example, recently they were a part of deaf arts residency (DARE) in July. Jas was a part of that. They made sure the group thought of how to be inclusive of Deaf blind people. They made sure we organised a communication guide tour. It meant that Deaf blind people were able to access the event. A few other people were like “Ah, I’ve never thought of that!” So that is how Jas was a strong advocate for Deaf blind people. That’s really fantastic.
[JL] Incredible!
[Both] Congratulations Jas!
[JL] How about the other prize, Deaf Community Volunteer of the Year?
[KV] The winner of the Deaf Community Volunteer of the Year award goes to William Maggs (he/they)!
[JL] Fantastic. They’re a brilliant young man.
[KV] So how do we decide who wins this award? Actually, this decision comes from the Darwin family. Do you know Ann Darwin?
[JL] Yes that’s right, I know the Darwin family. I have seen her work, it’s really special.
[KV] Right! So Ann has been involved in Deaf Australia for 20 years. So, DA and Darwin family have agreed that William Maggs shall be the winner this year.
[JL] Will, well done! I think it’s fantastic to see more Deaf people getting involved in volunteer work and being a role model. Finally getting recognition for their work.
[KV] And on top that, he’s really young! Only 21 years old. They’ve made time to volunteer in numerous projects while still studying at university.
[JL] I’ve seen their art work. But they always explain about other peoples’ work, too. If it was me, I wouldn‘t think to share everyone’s work. I think it’s fantastic to see young people like this.
[KV] I agree, absolutely.
[JL] Wow, congratulations again Will! Now, I am interested to know the process for how Deaf people in the community can nominate someone for next year. Can you explain the nomination process to me?
[KV] Of course! Thank you, that’s a great question. This year we received a lot of nominations. So the board split up to tackle the work for both of the awards categories. We decide based on the information we receive. Some people who were nominated, we receive a few paragraphs about them. If they have examples of their impact on a local level, a national level and possibly even international level of impact. This means that the board takes into consideration how widespread their work impacts around Australia. Our recommendation is if you have a nominee you want to submit, try to explain to us in detail about them as much as possible. This way we, the board, can recognise if their influence is on a local, national or international level. And then we’ll pick the right person!
[JL] One more question, can the community submit their nominees information in Auslan or written English?
[KV] We accept both, you can do both.
[JL] Great! Well, I think we’ve used up all our time! We’ll leave the community to think about their nominees for next year 2024. They can brainstorm their picks and prepare their submissions to send to us. We will do more promoting and announce a bit more when we are ready to receive your nominations next year. Thanks for explaining it all to me, and I’ll see you later!
[KV] You’re welcome.
[Both] Bye!

Visual description

Opening slide: Graphic image features white text on a blue and green gradient background. At the top there is a white Deaf Australia logo. In the middle there is a winner award icon with "Awards 2023" written in it. Text reads "Winners Announced! Deaf Australian & Deaf Community Volunteer of the Year. Message from Deaf Australia Board."

Video features Deaf Australia board members Karthik Vijayanandam and Julie Lyons discussing recent winners for the 2023 Deaf Australian of the Year Award and the 2023 Deaf Community Volunteer of the Year Award. They are chatting over Zoom in different environments. Karthik is sitting in an office chair with a white background behind him. Julie sitting outside with a bamboo grass wall behind her. They both looks happy to be discussing this topic.

Closing slide: Graphic features white Deaf Australia logo on a green and blue gradient background. Text reads “Deaf Australia is a Deaf-leg advocacy and information organisation in Australia representing all Deaf, Deafblind, and hard-of-hearing people and others who use Auslan (Australian Sign Language) as their language of preference. Contact us: [email icon] [email protected], [website icon] https://buff.ly/40UXM8b, [Instagram and Twitter icons] @deafaustralia, [Facebook icon] DeafAustraliaInc”

Congratulations to all of our 2023 Awards winners!

Deaf Australian
of the Year

Jas Shirrefs

Deaf Youth Australian
of the Year

Shanleigh Meldrum

Deaf Community
Volunteer of the Year

William Maggs

Read more about their achievements below:
Deaf Australian
of the Year

Jas Shirrefs

Jas has been nominated Jas for their efforts in creating a more socially conscientious, empowered and considerate Australian Deaf community. Jas is a dedicated human rights activist with an intersectional lens, with the Deaf community at the heart of their work.

Over the past few years, they have mobilised the use of social media and their art practice to advocate and raise awareness about various social issues with a focus on providing access to information in Auslan as well as empowering the Australian Deaf and hard of hearing community.

They also have a strong passion for calling out biases and negative attitudes towards the deafblind community. Jas always considers the access and experience of deafblind people through the development and exhibition of their artwork, resulting in an art practice that is inherently inclusive with a focus on tactile artwork.

For example, during the decision-making process for the Deaf DARE residency project. Jas played an instrumental role in ensuring that the space was inclusive for Deaf-blind people including being involved in organising tactile tours specifically for Deaf-blind people across Australia.

Deaf Youth Australian
of the Year

Shanleigh Meldrum

Shanleigh’s outstanding contributions are being acknowledged today, as she has been nominated by a community member for her remarkable efforts at Bendigo Deaf Hub and her dedication to volunteering with the State Emergency Service (SES). Notably, she has played a pivotal role in establishing youth spaces across regional Victoria specifically designed for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HoH) youth.

Recognising her commitment, the Victorian Government has honored Shanleigh for her volunteer work, a testament to her impactful contributions. In a noteworthy achievement, she was included in the Victorian Women Honour Roll for the year 2023.

Shanleigh has actively participated in emergency management forums, leveraging her involvement to raise awareness about the critical importance of disability inclusion and accessibility during emergencies. Her advocacy efforts have yielded tangible results, contributing to long-term benefits for Deaf, HoH, and Deafblind youth in regional and rural Victoria. Through her tireless work, she has heightened awareness of their unique needs, both in terms of mental and physical health.

In summary, Shanleigh’s dedication to fostering inclusivity and accessibility, particularly for the Deaf, HoH, and Deafblind youth in regional Victoria, has left an indelible mark. Her passion for emergency management and advocacy has not only garnered recognition from the community but has also translated into meaningful improvements in the lives of those she serves.

Deaf Community
Volunteer of the Year

William Maggs

William is a long-time member, multigenerational from Deaf family and he has volunteer his time not only in the South Australia Deaf Community but also within Australia Community. So as a young achiever, we believe he should recognise for their contribution especially over the last 12 months:

1. He has volunteer and a member of Deaf Rainbow NSW during the World Pride helping to organise events suitable for members of the Deaf Community. This involved organised gathering, set up of float, attending meetings, and designing marketing and logo branding all in his own time and cost.

2. He also Volunteer to be a Camp Presenter/Leader at the Crossing Boarder Camp in Brisbane in 2023. One week of extensive workshops, presenting to young emerging leaders, looking after young people, supervising, and doing photography for the camp.

3. Volunteered as a Youth participate attending Canberra to take part of the National Week of Deaf People at the Youth Parliamentary breakfast.

4. Been involved with the Deaf Gain Project and Panels as basically a volunteer work. This became a passion job for William to organise, set up and volunteer his own time for marketing and everything for this amazing project. This involves working with other members in other states and engaging them in the project.

5. Volunteer for the Adelaide Contemporary Experimental (ACE) Gallery Events as event organiser setting up, bumping in and out to ensure the events run smoothly.

6. Worked with Adelaide TAFE SA for special events stall works. As a young achiever doing so much volunteering work all while he is also study at university, we believe is amazing to see that not only he volunteer at a local level in his community but also in the wider Australia Deaf Community.

Deaf Australia advocates for Auslan access from birth to improve Deaf lives

Visual Description

Shirley has dark hair that is tied up in a bun and is wearing a black long sleeve shirt. She is standing in front a plain brown wall. She is signing in a professional and passionate manner towards the camera.

Deaf Australia advocates for Auslan access from birth to improve Deaf lives in response to recent review about cochlear mapping (see articles at bottom of page)

Friday 10th November, 2023. 

Deaf Australia has long advocated for the right for deaf individuals to access and use Auslan (Australian Sign Language) from birth, particularly when identified as deaf infants. Auslan, the language of the Australian Deaf community, has been recognised as a genuine language with linguistic features validated by experts worldwide. 

Contrary to misconceptions, choosing Auslan does not increase the risk of social isolation or poor health for Deaf individuals. Rather, such challenges stem from barriers imposed by the broader hearing society, not deafness itself. 

With approximately 97% of deaf babies born to hearing families, Deaf Australia highlights the prevalent lack of sign language familiarity within these families. The first point of contact for parents upon identifying deafness is the medical profession, where the focus tends to be on cochlear implantation, speech pathology, and mapping, neglecting the potential benefits of introducing Auslan. 

Deaf Australia emphasises the significant difference between speech and language development, noting that information provided by the medical profession rarely suggests offering Auslan to deaf babies and their families. Deaf Australia, along with the deaf community underscores Auslan’s value as a visual and vibrant language with its own grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, challenging the common belief that a spoken language-only approach with cochlear implantation guarantees success. 

Despite research supporting the bilingual and bicultural approach for deaf babies and children, the medical profession often lacks awareness or support for such methods. Reviews in South Australia and Queensland have revealed serious, life-threatening gaps in skilled staff, services, and inadequate policies, with a critical absence of information about the opportunity to learn Auslan. 

Recent compensation efforts by the South Australian and Queensland governments, totalling $1.48 million and $2.2 million, respectively, raise concerns. Deaf Australia questions the oversight in compensatory processes where speech services are offered without acknowledging the need for funding opportunities for families to learn Auslan. Barring any language acquisition disabilities, if Auslan was welcomed, offered and celebrated, it is likely none of the language and developmental delays would have happened.  Deaf Australia emphasises the crucial lesson that a bilingual and bimodal context significantly reduces language and learning delays for deaf children compared to a speech-only pathway. 

Deaf Australia calls for increased awareness, policy changes, and inclusive practices to ensure the rights and well-being of deaf individuals within the broader community. Deaf Australia remains committed to fostering an environment where Auslan, alongside English and other family languages, is welcomed, offered, and celebrated from the early stages of life, preventing unnecessary language and developmental delays for deaf children and their families. 


Media Contact: 
Jen Blyth, Chief Executive 
E: [email protected] 
SMS ONLY: 04 77 551 844   

About Deaf Australia:  

Deaf Australia was founded in 1986 as a not-for-profit organisation that represents all Deaf, Deafblind, and hard of hearing people, and others who are fluent and knowledgeable about Auslan. The focus has and continues to be on developing access to information and accessible communication. We work with Australian governments and collaborate with key stakeholders to make sure that Australia complies with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The UN Convention and the National Disability Strategy guides our work; we aspire to achieve equity for Deaf people across all areas of life. 

Auslan Santa 2023

Sign up information​

Santa Photography Key Dates:
Bookings open: 19 October 2023
Santa’s arrival in Westfield centres: From 12 November 2023
Photography dates: From 12 November (may vary by centre) until 24 December 2023

Sign up for a booking with Auslan Santa

Westfield Liverpool:
● Thursday 23 November from 4pm – 7pm

Westfield Chatswood: 
● Sunday 26 November from 3pm – 6pm

Westfield Tuggerah:
● Wednesday 29 November from 3pm – 6pm

Westfield Parramatta:
● Wednesday 13 December from 4pm – 7pm

Westfield Miranda:
● Saturday 16 December from 9am – 12pm


Westfield Fountain Gate:
● Saturday 18 November from 3pm – 3pm
● Sunday 19 November from 3pm – 6pm

Westfield Southland:
● Thursday 23 November from 5pm – 8pm

Westfield Geelong:
● Sunday 26 November from 3pm – 6pm


Westfield Chermside:
● Wednesday 15 November from 3:30pm – 6:30pm
● Friday 1 December from 3:30pm – 6:30pm
● Friday 8 December from 3:30pm – 6:30pm

Westfield Coomera:
● Friday 17 November from 3pm – 6pm
● Friday 1 December from 9am – 12pm

Westfield North Lakes:
● Tuesday 28 November from 3:30pm – 7:30pm
● Tuesday 5 December from 3:30pm – 7:30pm


Westfield Woden:
● Sunday 19 November from 10am – 12pm

Westfield Belconnen:
● Sunday 19 November from 2pm – 4pm


Westfield Tea Tree Plaza:
● Tuesday 14 November from 6pm – 9pm

Westfield Marion:
● Wednesday 15 November from 5:30pm – 8:30pm


Westfield Carousel:
● Friday 17 November from 5:30pm – 8:30pm

Westfield Whitford City:
● Friday 1 December from 5:30pm – 8:30pm

Media Release (English)
Sign up for a booking with Auslan Santa

DRC Recommendations Update 20th October


Hello! I’m Catherine [gives name sign] and I work at Deaf Australia as a policy officer. I want to let you know that we at Deaf Australia are aware of the numerous DRC reports that was released on 29th September. Deaf Australia is collaborating with Deaf Victoria, Deaf Connect and Deaf Bendigo Hub in making a decision as to where we go next from here. The DRC reports has 222 recommendations that tells the government what they must do to improve the lives of people with disabilities and deaf people too. We will give you updates as time goes on as we need to read through the reports carefully. Bye!

Visual descriptions

Opening slide: Graphic features purple background with white text. White Deaf Australia logo in the upper center. Royal Disability Commission logo centered beneath that. Title reads "Update regarding recent DRC recommendations. Published: 20th October 2023"

Video: Catherine a white woman with short brown hair. She is wearing a black shirt and sitting against a beige wall. She signing in a professional manner towards the camera and smiles throughout her message.

Closing slide: Graphic features white Deaf Australia logo on a green and blue gradient background. Text reads “Deaf Australia is a Deaf-leg advocacy and information organisation in Australia representing all Deaf, Deafblind, and hard-of-hearing people and others who use Auslan (Australian Sign Language) as their language of preference. Contact us: [email icon] [email protected], [website icon] www.deafaustralia.org.au, [Instagram and Twitter icons] @deafaustralia, [Facebook icon] DeafAustraliaInc”

37th Annual General Meeting (AGM)


Hello all. Deaf Australia will have its 37th Annual General Meeting on Saturday 18th November 2023 at 2PM Sydney/Melbourne time. Our AGM will be at Meat Market in North Melbourne. We will utilise a hybrid model, which means the AGM will be in person and live streamed online. Please register for the AGM so we can organise catering for those who will be attending in person.

There are some important information related to voting at the AGM.

Our new Constitution with big changes eg. length of membership becoming annual not lifetime. Please make sure you read the proposed new Constitution prior to the AGM. You will get a copy of the new Constitution along with this Notice.

Deaf Australia plans to change from an incorporated association to Company Limited by Guarantee. The change needs to be voted by members.

Board nominations as there are three positions available. If you are interested in joining the Deaf Australia Board, please send your nomination form by Sunday 5th November 2023.

If you are unable to attend our AGM but would like to vote, please send your Proxy and Apology form by Sunday 12th November 2023.

If you have any items to be added to the Agenda, please email our CEO by Sunday 5th November 2023. The email address is [email protected].

During the AGM, we will also present three awards: Deaf Australian of the Year, Deaf Youth Australian of the Year, and Community Volunteer of the Year.

Deaf Australia will also facilitate a Q&A evening on Friday 17th November 2023, the day before our AGM. This is to give you an opportunity to get clarification or ask questions about our new Constitution. More information will be shared soon. Hope to see you there!

Dear Member,

Deaf Australia Inc will hold its thirty-seventh (37th) Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Saturday 18 November at 2.00 PM (Melbourne/Sydney) time at the Meat Market, North Melbourne, which will also be livestreamed online. 

To register in advance for the Annual General Meeting: Register here for online attendance. If you wish to attend in person, please fill out the RSVP form here

After registering, we will check your details against our membership database.* 

Important note: Make sure your full name and email address correspond with our database.

View attached PDFs:

  1. the notice of Annual General Meeting (PDF) | Watch the Auslan video above or on Vimeo
  2. the agenda for this meeting (PDF)
  3. the minutes of the last AGM (PDF)
  4. the minutes of the last SGM (PDF)
  5. the Annual Report (PDF)
  6. the Audited financial report (PDF)
  7. the new Constitution (PDF)

Q&A evening – 17th November 2023Deaf Australia will also run a Q&A evening on the 17th November 2023 at 6pm Melbourne/Sydney time where members will have the opportunity to get clarification or ask questions about our new constitution. Please register here.

Important dates deadline:

  1. Submit Board of Director nomination forms by Sunday, 5 November 2023;
  2. Propose your meeting agenda item/s by Sunday, 5 November 2023;
  3. Submit Apology and Proxy form by Sunday, 12 November 2023;
  4. Deaf Australia Awards 2023 Nominations by Sunday, 5 November 2023;

Quick Links:

*Note: Members of the public that are not DA members may join us at the in-person event in Melbourne or watch online via FB Livestream (not the Zoom meeting). However, they cannot vote or participate in matters of governance.

Development has started for National Autism Strategy

We have been asked to share that the The National Autism Strategy consultations are open and expected to run to 30 October 2023.

The Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth announced the opening of the public consultations on the development of a National Autism Strategy – Australia’s inaugural national strategy dedicated to help Autistic people across Australia live the lives they want and deserve.

To create a National Autism Strategy for all Autistic Australians, we need to hear from Autistic people, their families and carers and the Autism sector. The Stakeholder toolkit available on the Department of Social Services website. You can start using this toolkit from now until 30 October 2023.

The National Autism Strategy consultations are expected to run to 30 October 2023. We encourage you to share this information within your networks to create a National Autism Strategy for all Autistic Australians.

Royal Commission publishes over 1,500 narratives of people with disability

Media Release 11 September 2023

Royal Commission publishes over 1,500 narratives of people with disability

Today the Royal Commission published 1,586 narratives on its website. The narratives are deidentified experiences of people with disability, their families and supporters and are based on experiences shared in private sessions and submissions to the Royal Commission between 2019 to 2022.

Private sessions and submissions guaranteed the experiences of people with disability, their families and supporters remained central to the work of the Royal Commission. [DA Note: You can find Deaf narratives by filtering by CALD on the left side of the screen. Not all CALD narratives are about Deaf people.]

These experiences assisted the Royal Commission to better understand the nature and extent of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability.

The following are two examples of narratives published today.

Khari: “Being black in this state [WA] was hard, but being black and in a wheelchair was a nightmare because absolutely no-one sees you.”

Len: “As someone with a learning disability, I’m not stupid. I’m quite intelligent, and I work outside the box … I actually consider my learning disability a gift.”

The narratives can be accessed at disability.royalcommission.gov.au.

Please direct all inquiries to the Disability Royal Commission media team on 0436 841 166 or via our email [email protected].


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