NDIS Update – 2 April 2024



This is the NDIS update. This is a hot topic within the Deaf community, especially for those who use the NDIS in different ways. Deaf Australia has continued working with the NDIA in different ways, we regularly attend forums, meetings and discussions. Deaf Australia has also been contributing to working groups on topics such as the planning process, and providing feedback from a Deaf perspective. We also have had meetings regarding issues that we see occurring in the NDIS space that affect the Deaf community. This includes insufficient interpreter funds being allocated, the rejection of Auslan training in plans, or insufficient funds for Auslan. Also supporting people to appeal the NDIA’s decision and supporting cases at the AAT that relate to interpreter funding, Auslan training and other Deaf specific requests.

The Deaf community must have their choice and control with the NDIS. We have been doing lots of work in this space.

I also acknowledge there have been a lot of changes and reforms to the NDIS, however, this information hasn’t been shared with the Deaf Community well. We will create a page on our website to explain these changes. Recently there was a bill introduced in Parliament to ensure that the NDIS stays within its original vision. This means that Deaf Australia along with other Disability Representation organisations can work with the NDIA to ensure a better outcome and experience for the Deaf and wider disability community when accessing the NDIS.
There have also been changes in policies to crack down on fraud and strengthen fraud prevention, this will be released soon.

Changes such as an extra day in processing payment for services, changing from 2 to 3 business days to ensure appropriate oversight.

Check-in with your plan or plan managers to understand these changes and to make sure they don’t impact any of your services. We are trying to get more visual and accessible information about these changes so you can understand how to best use your plan in alignment with the changing NDIS space.

If you have any concerns about your NDIS plans please contact us and we can point you in the right direction to have this resolved.

Thank you

Visual description

Shirley is wearing a black t-shirt standing in plain cream background.

She is signing in a friendly and concise manner towards the camera.

DRC Update – 2 April 2024



Hello, this video is an update about the Disability Royal Commission. As you know the DRC finished its commission and handed down volumes of its recommendations. This means the Australian Government needs to consider its response to each of the many recommendations. Originally the plan was for the response to be released this month, however, they have extended this until mid-July. That means we must wait a little longer until the Government releases its responses for us to begin our collaborative work with the other Disability Representation groups to provide our feedback. No one knows our needs like we do, so it’s important to ensure the response from the Government is appropriate and that nothing is missed.

There was a recent progress update, which covered other Disability related themes unfortunately none of which were related to the Deaf and Auslan community. Only some information regarding general accessibility, which I want to acknowledge. We will wait until mid-July for the full response from the Government and we will provide you updates about that when it happens, as well as what impacts may occur in the community.

We also acknowledge that there isn’t a lot of information available in Auslan, we aim to create a page on our website dedicated to the DRC, its aim, and its impact across all the various areas. This will help understand Deaf Australia’s role in responding to the Government’s response. We hope to have this information up in a few months.

Thank you for watching.

Visual description

Shirley is wearing a black t-shirt standing in plain cream background.

She is signing in a friendly and concise manner towards the camera.

NRS Update – 2 April 2024



Hello, this video is an update about the NRS. You may remember the previous video we posted about the NRS and the concerns around the tender process for service delivery.
The tender application has now closed. We acknowledge the limited consultation with the community and the gaps that exist in the current form.

We have been contacted by the relevant Government department to discuss the areas we have identified and they expressed they are happy and willing to have further discussions on how the service can be improved once the tender has closed.
We will share more updates when they happen.

Also, we have been working closely with ACCAN who are experts in the area of Communication, they have assisted us in how best to lead this, with foresight for the next tender process to avoid what happened in the recent tender.

The process will take some time with negotiations to ensure its successful. We want to ensure issues raised are resolved, so we don’t have to deal with the same types of issues in future tender cycles. We will share further updates when we have them.

Also, for any issues identified or brought to Deaf Australia’s attention, we will be approaching the Minister of Communications to inform them and have thorough conversations on how these can be addressed. We hope to begin this approach shortly.

Lastly, we have spoken with ACCAN about ‘Triple-0’ emergency calls. They are eager to explore how this can be improved. You may be aware that the 3G network will be shutting down this year. Different Telecommunication businesses such as Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have announced when they will turn off their 3G networks. Please check with your phone provider to make sure you won’t be affected with this change.
ACCAN told me about the various levels of 000, some being the State’s responsibility and others being the Federal Government’s responsibility. They’re happy to work with us to help address the issue of Deaf people being unable to access 000 in the time of an emergency, and the changes needed to amend this. We’ve been involved with a committee of other stakeholders and the Government which has given us a great opportunity to inform them about this so they can also advocate for us.

Once we know more about how to best approach State-based 000 providers, and approval from the board, we will let you know and consult with the community to move this issue forward.

Thank you for watching this update.

Visual description

Shirley is wearing a black t-shirt standing in plain cream background.

She is signing in a friendly and concise manner towards the camera.

Acting CEO Shirley Update – April 2024



Hello! In this update, I’ll be sharing an update on all the work we’ve been doing at Deaf Australia. There has been a lot happening across different sectors, it would be impossible to fit everything into one video. Instead of one lengthy video, I’ve decided to break it up into smaller videos depending on the topic of the update, so I can go into more detail in each video. I will email Deaf Australia’s members with the different videos, as well as post these on social media in the next week or two for you to watch.

I encourage you to become a Deaf Australia Member so you can have quick access to our updates too via our mailing lists.

If you’re not yet a member, that’s fine. We are still amending our member forms on our website to make joining and payment easier with our new payment option. By using My CRM, our central management system we can see all details in one handy location.

This also will align with the recent changes from our last AGM, regarding membership structure. We will provide further updates on this soon.

Another exciting date coming up soon is Auslan Day, on April 13th! We are excited! If you don’t already know we’re having a video competition with prizes to be won. For more information, please check out our website. We will be releasing a promo video soon, so please keep a look out!

Now for all the things we’ve been working on at Deaf Australia. There’s been lots! As you know we’re a small organisation, but that doesn’t stop us from tirelessly advocating for systemic change. We’ve had lots of meetings with the Government, and lots of things have been happening. Of course, it is a slow process, but we know that eventually, the impact will be a positive change.
Unfortunately, nothing can change overnight, so we keep advocating.

Three things I’d like to provide an update on are the Disability Royal Commission and NDIS Review as well as the NRS update. Three big topics!

Please watch the separate videos for further information.

Deaf Australia has also been busy reviewing and writing position papers, which are released after working closely with Deaf Australia’s board for approval. We have plenty of position papers available on our website, with more to be added soon.

We have provided submissions to the Government for their different reviews to help inform better policy decisions and reform to influence the rest of Australia’s states and territories.

I know that was a lot of information for one video, I hope you have a good week and enjoyed the break over the recent long weekend.

I look forward to working with you more soon.

Visual description

Shirley is wearing a black t-shirt standing in plain cream background.

She is signing in a friendly and concise manner towards the camera.

CEO Update (Part 2: WFD 2027 Congress in UAE) – 23 Oct 2023


Thirdly, earlier this year, we attended the WFD Congress in South Korea. During the congress, there was a General Assembly where we receive updates and vote on things, including the location of the next Congress.

The process is that countries put in their bids, two WFD board
and one WFDYS board member travel to these countries and inspect the sites and interview the nominees, before approving.

This year they also made the decision to provide a recommendation.

This year, three countries bidded – Nigeria in Africa, Norway in Europe and United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the Middle East.
In the congress, WFD Board recommended UAE. The UAE won the bid.

However, there were questions about human rights, particularly regarding the 2SLGBTIQA+SB community, commonly referred to as 'Queer.'
21 countries (19 signatories), including Australia, wrote a motion for a request for an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to ask questions about the bidding process and to ask all three bidders to answer questions on human rights.

WFD accepted and an EGM was held on Saturday, from 9pm – 2.30am Melbourne time, which was a long night. Our intention was never to have a re-vote, but to clarify things, however we did write the word ‘vote’ in the motion – but it is important to remember that English is a second, third, fourth language for the majority of people in the world.

During this process, the agenda was around topics such as accepting the voting procedures and more.
1. Should the WFD Board be responsible for deciding whether bids meet human rights and then deciding whether they can be approved for voting by the members?
2. Which country would win the next Congress location?

So, that's the summary up to this point.
I had two Board members come to my home to watch together. Two of us voted while one observed. Sherrie Beaver, the vice-chairperson, and Karthik Vijayanandam as an observer joined me for the EGM. The three of us were together all night, and we asked questions.

I would like to bring up a personal comment: there have been a lot of comments and fear about women in UAE, stuff like can women go to UAE? Do they have to attend with a man? Is it safe to go? Can women present? I believe this is Islamophobia. I think this is directly related to a fear or inappropriate beliefs about religion, Muslim, and Islam. This needs to stop. Don't aim to burden women; however, there are a few extremists. Please conduct some research before making public claims and statements about this. That's what I wanted to share with you all.

Let's return to the Extraordinary General Meeting procedure from last Saturday. Three hours prior to the EGM, WFD released an open letter which I will attach. responding to some allegations from Norway in their magazines about the process of the bids and votes in Korea. WFD had tried to respond to them and get them to print a retraction, but apparently were not listened to, which is why they released the open letter.
On the night, Nigeria withdrew their bid, saying that there was
a fair democratic process where the UAE won in Korea. Norway removed their bid because of this open letter from the WFD. This meant UAE was the only country in the running.

Please remember that the Board agreed that we don't want to hold a re-vote. We wanted to ask questions for clarification before accepting that the UAE has won the bid.

So, we voted on two main issues during this process: the WFD and the country's bid. We all agreed that we don't want WFD to accept bids from countries with poor human rights records. We, as members, want to be the ones making this decision, not the WFD. That covers the first part. As for the second part, the country's bid.

We are not allowed and won’t ask for another EGM to happen again. We accept that a democratic process has happened. That is what happened. Does this mean I will ignore any of your objections? No, I welcome your feedback and also continue to relay this to WFD to ensure that the next Congress is successful. Thank you.

CEO Update (Part 1) – 23 Oct 2023


Hello. This is Jen Blyth, CEO of Deaf Australia. I am making this video on Wurundjeri country of the Kulin Nation - Melbourne.

I have a CEO update. I'll try to keep it brief, but it's rather lengthy. Just a heads up in advance.

1. Services Australia (Centrelink) - Part 1
2. NDIS guidelines - Part 1
3. WFD 2027 Congress in UAE - Part 2

Services Australia
A Deaf community member reached out to us to ask us
to help advocate for the removal of the requirement to have interpreters be a nominee for Deaf people when making calls to Centrelink. We agreed this was an important advocacy issue, and we have successfully advocated for this removal. Service Australia have changed their policies and procedures which will be updated on their website soon. They will remove this requirement for nominees, instead changing the process to ask identifying questions from the interpreter, such as what their NAATI number is. This is a great win.

NDIS would we fund it guidelines
The NDIS has developed some guidelines to cover Deaf-specific requirements, such as Auslan at home for families and interpreting being covered. On their website, they will soon post about topics such as Auslan in the home for families, Auslan for adults, and interpreting services. Unfortunately, they don't share the hours or the costs, but the funds will be covered. This is a positive step that benefits everyone.

Deaf Oceania Networking Event

An opportunity to network with others in the Oceania region.
WHEN: Wednesday, 12 July 2023
TIME: 6:30pm – 8:30pm
COST: The event is free
Light refreshments will be provided.
RSVP is essential by Friday, 30 June 2023 – https://forms.office.com/r/XX9z0dNP72
When you RSVP, you will receive information about the event venue.
Any general queries, please feel free to email [email protected]
Sponsored by: Access PLUS, Deaf Aotearoa, Deaf Australia, Deaf Connect and Expression Australia

Crossing Borders Youth Camp: Dates & Venue Announcement


Hi everyone! Crossing Borders Youth Camp 2023 have an exciting announcement about the dates for the camp and the venue.

The dates for camp will be In next year 2023 Wednesday 12th to Sunday 16th of April.
It will be a perfect timing as this is the Easter holidays for most states. The camp will be 5 days long.

Where will the camp venue be - NSW, Vic, Tas, SA, WA, or NT? Well, it will be in Queensland in the capital city of Brisbane.

The camp is QCCC Brookfield for those who are between 13 to 17 years old.

Camp is very close to the city so you can just fly in and pop over to camp which is ideal for everyone.
If you have been wanting to visit Brisbane or Queensland - this is your opportunity!

See you there, bye.

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

Deaf Ecosystem Vodcast: Sharon & Anna-Louise on being Deaf business owners



Okay, I started my business in 2020 on February. I realised that it was time to start up the business after many years of working. I realised that I needed to show leadership for example, Deaf people can be leaders, Deaf people can be their own bosses, Deaf people can support other Deaf people. We can be the trainers as we are already experts in the field, we are born Deaf, we know what we are talking about! So why is it not possible to be trainers, be leaders, be empowering, be innovative!  

I provide support work services, translating services, mentoring services and consulting services especially with parents. I often talk from my own personal experience advising parents not to do what my parents did, but to do things that we all prefer as Deaf people as we all know what it is like to be Deaf. It is important to use us & our knowledge – hence the reason why I have set up my own business.  

So all these are the reasons why I have set up my business. 

Sharon: Wow!  

Anna-Louise:  I have been doing this for two and half years now and the business is still going strong. What about you, Sharon? 

Sharon:  Actually, very similar to you. My business is still in its infancy, it was established in 2018 so it’s been four years now. What I do is similar to your work, my reasons why I established the business are very similar to yours as I noticed that there were gaps in the Deaf community when it came to support work services. I was seeing a lot of hearing organisations taking over opportunities thinking that they knew what was best. I felt frustrated to see Auslan being dismissed; I was seeing a lot of families with Deaf children were choosing speech focus, not having the option to learn Auslan. I started to see a decline in children with their 

Anna-Louise: Yes, declining..  

Sharon:  language development. So I started to teach sign language with those children and noticed a huge benefit. How I started was actually a little bit of a sad story, I used to work in employment services for many years. 

Anna-Louise: Same here. 

Sharon:  For around 20 years. My last job was with a huge company and unfortunately my employer was very discriminatory against me, because I was Deaf.  

Anna-Louise: *nodding head* that’s common! 

Sharon:  So I actually left my job, and I needed counselling. It was the first time in my life that I felt ashamed to be Deaf. It threw me off, mentally and emotionally. It was through the break in between jobs, that the Deaf community supported me, they knew what was happening.  

Anna-Louise: *nodding head* your people 

Sharon:  They also knew that I had experience in the employment field, so I started helping with CV’s, cover letters and job applications. I started to be busy again and realised that there was a huge gap in that area where Deaf people couldn’t just go to any disability employment service provider due to the communication breakdowns. 

 Anna-Louise: and limitations in communication.  

 Sharon: What about you? 

Very similar to you, I forgot to add before that I had a business partner and we had this vision plan to teach Auslan, empowering Deaf people but then COVID-19 hit and we didn’t expect that. So we didn’t start off well with Auslan teaching as we had to adapt to different ways such as using Zoom. We had to change our vision, my business partner started to teach Auslan online but realised that many people didn’t know how to set up Zoom on their end. So that meant they needed support so we split up the business and she set up Auslan teaching and I set up support services.  

My services were in high demand, being booked out and I couldn’t attend to every client and I needed help by employing other staff and they had their role within the business and the business started to grow from there, providing support work and that wasn’t expected! My business partner didn’t want to do support work, it wasn’t something they wanted to do. They preferred to teach Auslan only and they taught in TAFE and university.  

Sharon: Their passion, their strengths. 

Anna-Louise:  Yes, following her passion. I was happy for her. From there, the business grew so quickly with only providing support work, with very little Auslan teaching. I have one or two staff who teach Auslan. Also our business grew in the aged care field. There wasn’t enough…  

Sharon: That’s a big gap. 

Anna-Louise:  people. Yes, its hard work seeing older Deaf people not being able to do things or they are very lonely. People feel very emotional working in that area, there is not enough education to let Deaf people know that they can go to Aged care homes and visit Deaf people there or who provides that service?! There’s no one out there! In Victoria that is, where I am. Covid….  

Sharon: I wanted to ask, is there NDIS for people over 65 years of age?   

Anna-Louise: No,  

Sharon: so its through My Aged Care? 

Anna-Louise:  through hospitals and yes, that (My Aged Care). So, hospitals started to book us, that’s how we grew and they tell us that we provide fantastic services. The older clients put a lot of compliments for our services and we have established a good relationship with hospitals who have said that we provide excellent services. That’s what caused our business to grow.  

Sharon: Great for older people to have access to their language which is Auslan.  

Anna-Louise: I find that when people ask me how many staff I have, I always ask if that question can be changed – how many Deaf staff do I have?  

Sharon: *nodding head* 

Anna-Louise: Many people assume that I have more hearing staff and my answer is always no. I only have one hearing staff, the rest are Deaf. I often get shocked reactions. 

Sharon: Wow, that’s good! 

Anna-Louise: total shock, as they are not used to seeing the number of Deaf staff in a team. That’s why I have set up my business, to encourage more Deaf employees.  

Sharon: Rally interesting, I remember my family, who are mostly hearing, I have one brother who is also Deaf, actually thought I had a hobby! It was really interesting. 

Anna-Louise: Same! 

Sharon: They actually.. 

Anna-Louise: Hearing culture, not used to see Deaf people having their own businesses. People with disabilities cant!  

Sharon: Yes, when I started to work from home, people would interrupt me when I was working online. They don’t realise, still even today!  

Anna-Louise: *head nodding* still the same! 

Sharon: Actually recently in the newspaper, well yesterday in the newspaper.  

Anna-Louise: Well done! I saw that article, wow! 

Sharon: Thank you! I am excited, very honoured 

Anna-Louise: An award for your business, wow! 

Sharon: Really excited, we were nominated in the local business awards. Actually its this one *pointing to an award from behind* 

Anna-Louise: *hand applause* 

Sharon: We are finalists, we haven’t won the award yet. We don’t know yet. 

Anna-Louise: Still, the nomination itself is an acknowledgement of your hard work. 

Sharon: We have the business… absolutely, very honoured to be a finalist. Its actually funny as my father saw the newspaper article. He is 80 years old. 

Anna-Louise: Aww! 

Sharon: yes, aww! 

Anna-Louise: Reading the newspaper is old school! 

Sharon: He read the article and said that I had a lot of people in my team. He asked me if that the team was mine? My business?  

Anna-Louise: you pay these people!? Really? 

Sharon: Yes! It was really interesting, I feel that a lot of hearing people…..  

Anna-Louise: shocked  

Sharon: they don’t realise that we can do it! 

If you could go back to 2020 and you had the chance to start the business all over again, what would you do differently? Do you feel that you would have done it the same way or make some changes?  

Anna-Louise:  I think it would be the confidence, do not have that doubt. To be confident. A lot of people told me that I needed to study in business, I told them to shut up. 

Sharon: Yay! 

Anna-Louise: We are not analysing how many cars we are selling, how many tyres we need to sell, all that logistics of finding factories to supply etc. It is a different thing - this business is Deaf-led from a Deaf approach. Sorry but we need to tell them mind their own business! We are following the reasons why we have set up the business, following our gut instinct and our hearts.  

Sharon: yes, I agree.  

Anna-Louise: So its confidence in that belief. I had that doubt for nearly a year, I felt not confident and I felt upset that I had made the wrong decision to quit my job and was it the right decision to start my business. I shouldn’t have wasted that time, doubting myself! I could have set up the business better without that doubt; making better decisions from the get go. Hiring the right people, I had some telling me that that person wasn’t right for that job, I had to tell them that these people needed a second chance. They had hearing people control them in the past and hearing people trained them when they had different approaches, ways and values to them. I told them that they are Deaf,  you already know it and that they had the instinct. I gave a lot of opportunities to the Deaf staff that I hired; I didn’t take notice of their CV’s. Instead, I allowed them to tell me what they could do, when previously I would be following what I read on their CV’s and their lack of qualifications. But really, they can do it.   

I wish I followed that method more in the beginning. Is it the same for you? 

Sharon:  Um, I remember when I was thinking about starting my business; I had some people coming up to me saying that I needed to have meetings with them first.  

Anna-Louise: *head nodding* 

Sharon: I sat down with one person, I think what was like an all-day thing just talking  

Anna-Louise: Wasting your time! 

Sharon: about what? A business plan!  

Anna-Louise: No?!  

Sharon: I realised later that I didn’t need a business plan 

Anna-Louise: throw it out of the window! 

Sharon: Because a business plan is good only if you need a bank loan, to explain my vision for the business, eg how many staff will I have, how much money I will create etc. Really, to start this kind of business, you don’t need to do that. 

 Anna-Louise: It just happens over time. 

Sharon: When I started my business, I would later realise that I needed to add specific services or make changes to existing services  

Anna-Louise: evolving, yes 

Sharon: It was always changing, so a business plan if you want a loan or have  

Anna-Louise: loans or investors 

Sharon: yes, investor to support the business. It is different. So I think it’s important, well I think it was a waste of time for me really. 

Anna-Louise: Yes, same as you and its something like 50 pages long and it wasn’t even relevant to this business at all!  

Sharon: So, yeah.. 

Anna-Louise: People were worried! 

Sharon: I think for anyone who were thinking of starting a business, to really think about why they need a business plan. A business plan is good if you what to show such as applying for tenders or something like that. So really need to think carefully about the purpose of a business plan. 

Anna-Louise: That can come later, not really needed for the beginning.  

Sharon: Yep, later. 

Anna-Louise:  You start with your passion, following helping people. Well, it all depends on your business and what it is, I think with my business, I am following my passion; my superpower where I feel that I can help people and that grew from there into what it is today. If you didn’t have that passion, you can’t work seven days a week, you can’t work long hours, it will fail.  

Sharon:  Yeah, its not easy. So now when I go to different workplaces for Deafness Awareness Training, I make them fit in with the Deaf world because I am little bit over having to try and fit into hearing workplaces. Why isn’t it the other way around, to fit in with the Deaf employee? It’s time that workplaces start accepting the differences, for example Deaf staff to feel that they can email in their own ways, not in formal English. They need to work out the email; they can find a way to communicate with them. The Deaf staff need to be allowed to be themselves not having to use EAF to have the email corrected for the hearing workplace. I strongly encourage workplace to reflect on how they can make the workplace a better environment for the Deaf staff.  

Anna-Louise:  I find it very difficult to try and promote my business, it is a struggle to try and reach out to let people know that I am available and I am here to support. I find that I am stuck, however I am lucky that word of mouth gets out that I provide a good service, that I help people and that I care about people. The feedback is great, that the clients are happy with the services. I am now trying to work on my weakness which is marketing, especially on social media like Facebook and Instagram. Hopefully a website soon, but I find it difficult to film myself, I get embarrassed! I know that Deaf people don’t like to read a lot of English so I am trying to make sure that my website is different. What about you? 

Sharon: I understand how you feel, I don’t like to film myself too. But my staff wont, so I have to do it! 

Anna-Louise: Same! Oh no! 

Sharon: I have to tell them that they have to be filmed! Come on!  

Anna-Louise:  Not feeling comfortable in front of the camera and saying what needs to be said is difficult! I know everything, I know all the words, I know my own business and what we provide!  But when the camera is on, I get stuck!  

Sharon:  Yeah! Yeah. Also I don’t want the business to be about me but my team. It’s all of us, not just me! So I am trying to encourage my staff to show their faces a little bit more. I went through a very difficult time from the previous job so I was very slow in starting up the business. I didn’t want to promote too much, I only wanted to focus on a small amount of clients and build on from that, especially with my confidence. I had a Facebook page but that was the time when my confidence was at its lowest. I recall having a Facebook page but it wasn’t active as I was nervous.  

Anna-Louise: Click “post” and put it out there online! 

Sharon: I doubted myself a lot, I knew I wasn’t ready. My counsellor pushed me to start getting the business out there, telling me that I could do it. When the time came to be online, the response was actually amazing, the Deaf community gave their full support. 

Anna-Louise: Beautiful!  

Sharon:  It gave me the confidence, I am so grateful to have an amazing Deaf community behind me. It’s been really lovely to see people supporting each other.  So we started being online, it was a slow process as I wanted to focus on the clients that I had already. In the second year of business, it started to get busier and I didn’t really promote my business. I didn’t have a Facebook page until the third year of business before we even had the website set up. It was only because I started to work with Government organisations providing Deafness Awareness Training and they preferred to see my services through a website. So we were a bit forced to set up the website. 

Anna-Louise: A shove to the head! 

Sharon: It needed to look like a legitimate company. So we set up that.  

Anna-Louise:  Hey, funny because three to four years ago, you didn’t need a website for the business but now you needed one to prove that you do provide these services. Sometimes it feels like, hang on, give us a moment, we are still trying to catch up with the whole process of having a business such as learning about tax, training staff, establishing contracts, invoicing systems and so much more and then there’s the website on top of all that! 

Sharon: I needed to watch YouTube videos to teach me how to do invoices!  

Anna-Louise: Same!  

Sharon: I remember being frustrated trying to learn from scratch, but I am grateful that I did that even though I have staff to do this but I know how, especially if that staff left.  

Anna-Louise: Foundations 

Sharon: I had a staff that was away on holidays to Turkey for one month, fortunately I knew how to do their job. I have a staff member, who looks after our marketing side of things,  

Anna-Louise: Beautiful  

Sharon: For a few years, it was just me and I didn’t have time to focus on that. So now I have a marketing officer who looks after that. The only disadvantage is that she posts things about me! I have to tell her no! Its more about them, out there! But I know it’s nice to have that, people want to see positive stories, see inspirational videos of kids signing so it’s good for people out there to have access to that.  

Anna-Louise: Some Deaf people are asking me if that I felt big Deaf organisations are our competition? I always say, no because their services have different values to mine, not personal, hearing led by hearing directors, all services provide differently. I think we both are community centric based, we know our client’s stories, we have this personal touch as we know their names, when we meet with them we know who they are straight away. I feel that is respectful and valuable, do you feel that is the same in Sydney? 

Sharon: Yes, definitely.  I am always mindful of NDIS and their vision that the clients have choice and control. I always keep that in mind, when we are unable to provide the right services or our services is not a match but I will still help connect them with another Deaf led business. Yesterday, I had a client who contacted me wanting support work and my business does not provide that yet so I referred them to another Deaf organisation who could provide that. I think we need a more variety of Deaf led services, competition can be healthy. 

Anna-Louise: Yep! 

Sharon: Previously there would be just one Deaf organisation 

Anna-Louise: One that controlled everything 

Sharon: which meant they had the control. They didn’t follow what the client wanted, the organisations did what they wanted  

Anna-Louise: The client didn’t have options, now there are options!  

Sharon: The clients were stuck. It all means now, that I could join a bank and decide that I didn’t want to use that bank but join another bank but I could always go back to the other bank later.  I think that it is good that way as it helps me realise what was provided well before with the other bank, makes me appreciate the services that they provided so I would return in the future. It helped me learn about each bank and their services. So that’s why I think its good to have healthy competition to support each other.  

 Anna-Louise: Speaking of competition, it helps me improve my service and its delivery and vice versa. The Deaf client benefits from it all! 

Sharon: Exactly!  

Anna-Louise: I think its fantastic, that’s why I am not worried. The future? I hope to see more Deaf leaders, so we can learn new skills from them. We can be part of that community, leaders in the Deaf Auslan community. Maybe we can see some kind of Deaf Oscars, who has the best business,  

Sharon: Why not!!  

Anna-Louise: Who has the best Auslan business? 

Sharon: We can collaborate on that, to set it up! Why not!? 

I was watching something on a Deaf organisation page recently, talking about the power of speech. It was about a girl who was presenting about her experience with cochlear implant. Everyone commented on how she spoke well, congratulating her on that accomplishment. That made me feel sad,  

Anna-Louise: too focused on that. 

Sharon:  because we have the power to use our voice as well. Maybe my speech is not perfect, but that should not identify who we are. It would be nice to see people encouraging others to use their voice regardless of how it is spoken or signed 

Anna-Louise: Auslan voice or speech voice 

Sharon:  So the future, I would like to see children being free to either speak or sign not having to choose one pathway only. Getting accolades if they speak only, why aren’t children being accolated if they sign well!? Being told that they are amazing for learning Auslan as a language, as its more challenging for them to learn because teachers don’t use Auslan in schools, Auslan isn’t broadcasted on TV, they have had to learn both languages at the same time – I think its amazing that they use their voice in different situations. So it would be nice to see in the future, where one can go to mainstream coffee shop and the barista can sign, see parents who have a Deaf baby using both languages. It’s a bit like when I went to school and I studied subjects such as English, Maths and Science, what if they removed Art. That would cause uproar as I love Art! So it’s a metaphor for parents who have a Deaf baby to choose speech therapy, cochlear implants, hearing aids etc, what about Auslan? It would be nice to see that option, maybe the parents will choose not to have that option which is fine. It is important that the option is there for the family to choose.  

Anna-Louise: Aunts and uncles 

Sharon: So in the future, more awareness about Auslan.  

Anna-Louise: Also I think in the future, the parents will know that their child can do anything as we have more Deaf role models – we are here! The Deaf child can do anything, no matter what barriers once they set their mind to achieve whatever following their passion.  

Sharon: I feel.. 

Anna-Louise: At the moment parents feel that their Deaf child does not have a future, unsure what the future holds for them. Can they be a plumber? That’s why when I try… well at the moment here at home there are renovations and when hearing parents call me and they ask me how I communicate with the electrician. I tell them that he’s Deaf, and that surprises the parents! So I introduce the Deaf electrician to the hearing parents, and explain that Deaf people can be plumbers, painters or whatever. Recently I had some parents who were shocked to find out that I wasn’t hearing! They thought I was using Auslan with them to make them learn quicker! I would like to see in the future, that this becomes the norm, more acceptance and understanding knowing that their Deaf child can do anything! Just like boys and girls can do anything equally. 

Sharon: Yes, exactly! That’s the dream I also have.  

Anna-Louise: *head nodding* 

Sharon: Well….   




Deaf Australia Awards 2022

Deaf Australian of the Year

Elise Stewart

Founder of Deaf Hub Bendigo – reducing barriers and isolation amongst the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community members accessing support and information in the regional area. Including:

  • Social events
  • Workshops
  • Visiting clients
  • Creation of a space for Deaf people
  • Providing employment to Deaf people

She works both in volunteer and paid capacity. She has a passion to raise awareness of Deaf youth, elder people and parents of deaf kids.

Also supported all of the submissions to DRC in the region (400 hours worth of videos)

Deaf Youth of the Year

Sam Martin

Sam invested his passion about Deaf arts.

  • Always looks for strategies to share his achievements with the Deaf community
  • throughout Australia and in New York, which showed how Deaf people could be involved in the creation of a movie from start to end
  • Established PAH Stories, a theatre performance which allows Deaf queer people to share their stories

Community Volunteer of the Year

Margaret van Leeuwen
  • Volunteered for 45 years for the Ballarat Deaf Social Club Inc with different roles in the committee
  • She became life member in 1999 for BDSC
  • Margaret is a quiet, hardworking & devoted community minded person
  • Margaret likes being involved with Deaf Community, and feels a real sense of belonging,
  • Always ready to help with many social activities, Starlight Balls and special events
  • Always the first person to set up the hall for club’s activities , guest speakers and AGM meetings and the last person to leave the venue!
  • She also works full time and loves bushwalking .
  • E R Noble award recipient 2001/2002.
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