Category: Community Information in Auslan

Summary of the National Suicide Prevention Conference


Hi. This video is about a variety of sensitive topics such as suicide and childhood sexual abuse. Some of the things mentioned in this video may be triggering for those who may have lived or living experience of suicide. It is a heavy video. Please don't watch if you're not feeling up to it. If at any time you need help, please contact us. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please contact Lifeline or Beyond Blue for support, or contact your local GP to arrange further psychological support.

Last week I attended the national suicide prevention conference. It was a heavy, intense 4 days. The first day consisted of pre-conference workshops, then the next three days were the conference. So, the reason I went to the conference was that I was invited to present about Deaf people and suicide, and what the current state is. I wanted to encourage everyone to be aware of our community, to be more accessible and to provide us with the services that we need.

The pre-conference workshops were split into a morning and afternoon session, I can't speak to the afternoon workshop but the morning one that I attended was amazing. The workshop was to teach us how to talk about suicide and gave us tools on how to broach the topic with family or friends who we feel are giving off signs of suicidal ideation. A lot of people are frightened that if they were to talk to someone who is showing these signs, they may give the idea of suicide to them, however, that's not true. A lot of the time people are probably already thinking about it, or even if they aren't, asking them if they're thinking of suicide is not going to put any thoughts into their head. It's better to talk to them and let them know the things you've noticed and changed behaviours that indicate something is wrong. The workshop taught us signs to look for in a person, and what to do if the answer is yes. To be prepared to ask, do something, and support the person, rather than ignore the signs.

The workshop was impactful, it has empowered me and others to be more proactive and ask the question if we ever have concerns about someone's well-being. It's made me more willing to ask, as there is a lot of fear behind asking somebody if they're thinking about suicide. However, if the response is yes, the next step is to bring somebody in to help. You don't need to solve their problems; become their counsellor and you don't have to call 000 either. If the person is having suicidal thoughts you can ask to contact someone in their family to bring them in, or if they want to speak to a counsellor, you can arrange an appointment, and ask them if they want to go to the hospital. Ask them what they want to do, but don't ask them about methods and means. Just keep them safe and seek help.

Sometimes when asked the answer may be no, even though your intuition is telling you otherwise there's not much you can do. If they say yes, they are considering suicide, but don't want any of the help or assistance available. The training wasn't about going into depth with someone at that point in time. The aim is to have authentic conversations about this. The training gave me so much to think about and I plan on reaching out to the training providers to see if we can establish a specific training for those in the Deaf community who want to participate and gain a further understanding in this space. That training was powerful, it struck a chord with me. I must admit, I cried many times throughout the conference. As I was watching the presentations, I shed many tears at the heartfelt and heartbreaking content, the workshop however had the biggest impact on me.

I wasn't the only one, there were many other people attending who also cried throughout, I didn't see them, but the interpreters let me know. That was a nice advantage, they didn't tell me specific people but feedback on what they could see in the large audience's responses.

The afternoon workshop wasn't the right workshop for me, so I don't have anything to report on there.

The next day was the start of the 3-day conference. There were so many presentations, topics, and sessions on some profound subjects. I attended quite a few, so I'll give you summary of the lessons I took away from their sessions. One thing I learned was the highest percent of people globally who are likely to die by suicide are First Nations people. They are the most at-risk group. It's a huge problem.

One amazing presenter, Joe Williams, a First Nations former NRL Rugby player (I think?) and former Professional Boxer worked in the mental health sector and set up his own organisation to support First Nations young men and boys. He spoke about his history, and that in their language, they don't have a word for suicide. Now it happens, and it's a problem. His message was to allow Aboriginal people to take care of their own, and fix their problems without interference from others. It was interesting.

It was funny, in that presentation we should have heard from each speaker for 5 minutes, which we already know people love to speak and always go over their allotted time, however Joe became so passionate and presented so furiously about the current situation that it went for 45 minutes! The audience love it, they gave him a standing ovation. It was a great speech, however the lengthy video he showed didn't include captions. Many sessions and presentations I attended didn't caption their videos which was frustrating. I gave feedback about this and called for more accessibility.

Other themes of the conference spoke about the higher rate of males who die by suicide, the high rate of construction workers who take their own lives, and people who have experienced - and I want to give a trigger warning here - people who have experienced childhood sexual abuse, are more likely to take their own life. There are so many groups who were highlighted as being more likely to die by suicide, Queer people are more likely to take their own lives. So many groups it almost felt like a competition, no that's not the right word, but so many at-risk communities, like the Autistic community and more likely. So many groups are 'more likely' to experience suicide and suicidal thoughts it was like all of them were equally high risk. Many numbers and statistics were given but I don't understand how? No one spoke about intersectionality. What about a First Nations, Deaf, Queer person? No one spoke about intersectional identities. It was all very siloed and focused on one identity at a time.

There wasn't anything about Disability! Disability was not spoken about at all. Apart from myself, a Deafblind attendee, and another attendee with autism, we were the only 3 people with a visible disability there. I couldn't believe the lack of inclusive representation. We are part of the communities they spoke about. All the at-risk cohorts that they mentioned; men, construction workers, LGBTQA, First Nations people, Deaf and Disabled people exist in all those intersections too!

One session spoke about the use of art such as poetry to help with articulating any thoughts, which works for some people. Strategies like exercise. Just checking my notes. There was a long session that spoke about the experience of pregnant women and new mothers. That one was particularly difficult for me. They spoke about Post Natal Depression, Post-Partum Depression, and the experiences after childbirth without the right support networks in place. The various feelings that mother experience, are ambivalent towards their babies, the conflict of feelings, love for the baby but lack of identity as a mother. They spoke about different risks contributing to this, such as babies requiring hospitalisation, and fear of child removal by child protection. The fact that many mothers want to ask for help but are worried they will have their kids taken away for asking for mental health help. It was such a big topic with so many complicating factors for mothers of newborns.

There was also a presentation about religion, as some religions forbid speaking about suicide as it goes against their beliefs and teachings. It called for all religions to talk about suicide in a way that doesn't frame it as a sin, as something that requires understanding from church leaders and congregation, it was interesting.

A presenter from Kids Helpline spoke about an alarming trend among boys who are more likely to take their own lives. One of the big problems being online behaviours. There is an increase in, and I want to tell all parents out there to please think of your kids. What they've seen is an increase in young boys chatting to someone who pretend to be a girl at their age via online communication. The 'girl' will initiate a conversation asking for a naked photo and may send a photo first asking the boy to send one in return. When the young boy does, the girl then threatens to share the photo with his family and friends if he doesn't pay a ransom. Often these young boys feels lost and don't know who to turn to out of shame and anxiety they instead turn to suicide. That made me think about the need for us to talk to our children about these dangers, the appropriate use of devices and online safety, not to send nude/naked photos and if they do, what to do if they find themselves in this situation. That suicide is not the answer. They need to reach out to friends and family for help and support.

Another speaker spoke about loneliness. Loneliness is a huge global issue. More and more people are experiencing loneliness, lacking connection with others and a sense of belonging. It's a big issue for many people, which again can lead people to have suicidal thoughts. I've felt lonely before, I'm sure many of you watching this video also know the feeling of being alone. It's important to have a network of friends, to be included in your community. We also share a responsibility in being more welcoming and inclusive to others to prevent loneliness.

Alcoholism was another subject covered at the conference. Drinking alcohol makes you more likely to die by suicide or have suicidal thoughts. The thought about the considerations of raising the legal drinking age from 18 to 21. They didn't speak about drug abuse; it was focused on alcohol consumption and its alarming contribution to death by suicide.

I gave my presentation, I spoke about the statistics in the Deaf community. For example, Deaf children born to hearing parents are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and attempts. Deaf children are more likely to experience childhood sexual abuse compared to hearing children. Deaf people are twice more likely to have suicidal thoughts and three times more likely to take their own lives. There are so many staggering statistics. As I presented, I asked that audience what they are doing about this. There is a lack of inclusion for Deaf and Disabled people, I called upon them to do better. I think my presentation had a positive impact; I had many people approach me afterwards commenting on it. I hope to see work happening in this space. Out of everything I learned, I realise we have a long, long way to go. Really, we are at the start. We need more kindness; we need more people to be considerate and look out for each other. I'm happy to chat further if you'd like to reach out.

I hope to attend next year's conference to promote inclusion for the Deaf community. Not only that but there is a lot of work currently underway. I've had many meetings with different organisations such as Roses in the Ocean, who are tasked with writing the National Suicide Prevention Strategy which was established by the Federal Government to consult with all communities on this issue. And to ensure suicide prevention is embedded throughout the whole of Government to save lives. The topic of Suicide is still a big topic here at Deaf Australia since the need was highlighted last year. I have regular meetings with various stakeholders to promote change. Yes, we want more Auslan, videos and resources produced in Auslan, but we know that isn't enough. We need to be able to access services directly in Auslan, with someone who can understand us. I have been advocating for that.

Our goal for this year is to highlight this area and encourage all those involved to prioritise this need. I feel like we have made a little progress and I hope by end of the year we make further progress to have infrastructure established for Deaf people to be able to call a helpline and engage with a Deaf or Auslan fluent person. My goal is for this to be for both Deaf children and adults. Secondly, I want to see funding allocated for suicide prevention for Deaf people by Deaf people, not tokenistic Auslan translations, but actual services. I also hope to partner with and create a Deaf specific suicide prevention workshop for our community to access the training.

Visual description

Jen has curly red hair and is sitting on a beige couch against a light colored wall. She is wearing a light grey cardigan and a black t-shirt. The topic is serious and her demeanor is somber and serious to match.

Public Announcement – 19 March 2021

Deaf Australia Chief Executive Kyle Miers Moves On

Kyle Miers, Chief Executive of Deaf Australia, has submitted his resignation to the Board of Deaf Australia. Kyle is leaving Deaf Australia to lead a new service. His last day at Deaf Australia is Friday 9 April 2021.

Kyle was appointed as Chief Executive of Deaf Australia in 2014. He previously served on Deaf Australia’s Board between 2002 and 2011, including as President between 2005 and 2010.

“The opportunity to serve and lead Deaf Australia during a dynamic time at the organisation has been a highlight of my career,’ said Mr Miers. “Because Deaf Australia is a true consumer organisation where deaf people represent deaf people, we have been able to effectively gain prominence and recognition of deaf people’s issues and our organisation to Australian governments, members of the deaf community and service providers.”

During his tenure with Deaf Australia, Kyle has advocated for and achieved the following:

  • Inclusion of ‘Auslan’ as a language prompt in the Census 2021. This prompt will encourage Auslan users to write Auslan as a language used at home and will provide us and the Australian government with accurate information on the population of Auslan users in Australia. 
  • Communicated with Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments on the importance of accessible television announcements for emergency and disaster broadcasts, which resulted in ongoing provision of interpreters on television during these announcements. 
  • Provided advice to Department of Social Services to effectively communicate with deaf people in the transitioning of the National Auslan Booking and Payment Services (NABS) into the NDIS. 
  • Worked with Western Australian and Victorian Governments to amend their Jury Acts to allow deaf people to serve as jurors, as a result of a successful campaign in the Australian Capital Territory. 
  • Worked with South Australian and New South Wales Governments in their reviews of education for deaf and hard of hearing children with a view to improved quality in education. 
  • Successfully lodged a proposal that the World Federation of the Deaf adopt our Sign Symbol as the International Symbol for Sign Language. 
  • Prepared an extensive ‘Community of Practice’ Report for the NDIS that covers all areas of supports and needs for deaf and hard of hearing people. 
  • Worked to ensure federal and state/territory elections would be accessible with the provision of interpreters at pre-polling booths. 

Kyle has provided strong leadership for the organisation and created common ground for collaboration between government agencies and the community, particularly during the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the COVID -19 pandemic.

“We have taken our responsibility for deaf people’s rights to have to access to information and accessible communication seriously, and much of our time has been focussed on how we can address and improve services to meet these needs,” Mr Miers said.

At the beginning of his tenure, Kyle was faced with a significant financial challenge when the Australian Government slashed recurrent funding for national information and advocacy services. This saw a reduction in staff and a threat to Deaf Australia’s sustainability.

With the support of the Board, Kyle has been able to diversify sources of funding and has implemented new organisational strategies. This saw Deaf Australia’s funding grow from a bare $27,500 per annum to $900,000 per annum for the next couple years.

“On behalf of the Deaf Australia Board, I have had the pleasure of working with Kyle during his tenure with Deaf Australia. He has been a champion advocate and an effective leader for the deaf community,” said Ms Debra Swann, Chairperson of Deaf Australia. “Kyle will leave a big hole in Deaf Australia; however, I believe that his legacy will carry on for years.”

Kyle migrated from the United States in 1995, having grown up in residential schools for the deaf where he was educated by teachers who all used American Sign Language (ASL).  He brought his experience and passion for deaf rights to the Australian Deaf Community.

He was a founding member of Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO), Australian Communication Consumers Action Network (ACCAN) and the World Federation of the Deaf – Oceania.

He also served on a number of national disability advisory groups: Australian Electoral Commission, Early Intervention and Childhood Development, Disability Employment, NDIS’s CEO Forum, Department of Social Services’ Disability Gateway, Australian Communication Consumers Action Network and others. On all of these, his purpose was to improve quality, support and services for deaf and hard of hearing people.

On behalf of Deaf Australia Board, we wish Kyle all the best in his future endeavours and we thank him for all his hard work for the Australian Deaf Community.

Download Public Announcement

Outlook Blog (December 2020 – January 2021)

Video translation of Deaf Australia Outlook (December 2020 – January 2021)

Members Blog

Happy belated New Year, we certainly hope you had a festive and safe holiday. We hope that 2021 will be an exciting year for all of us and we all stay safe and are keeping well.

Before Christmas, we were invited to participate in Deaf Community of Australia Forum (DCAF) with Shirley hosting the event and we were able to share with you the updates of what we have been doing.

Through Christmas, Deaf Australia has been preparing a submission to Department of Health to address accessible services for Deaf People who use Auslan in Hospital and Health Services and organising webinars for Disability Royal Commission and NDIS-ILC project.

  • Accessible Services for Deaf People who use Auslan in Hospitals and Health Services

There have been too many mistakes, too many bad stories, too many preventable situations that has not been adequately addressed to ensure that our health and wellbeing are looked after.

The submission outlined 4 key areas:

  • Hospitals
  • Medical and Allied Health Services
  • Telehealth Services and
  • National Relay Service

This submission has been sent to Department of Health through our role with Covid-19 Disability Roundtable hosted by Department of Health. Through this group, Deaf Australia have reminded them the importance that deaf people need to have access to interpreter when there are media announcements regarding Covid-19 and accessing interpreter for health and medical services which led to this paper.

Deaf Australia acknowledge that Deaf Victoria is undertaking parallel project in Victoria asking deaf people their experiences with Hospitals. We look forward receiving their report.

To view written submission (

  • Disability Royal Commission

We are thrilled to inform you that there will be webinars throughout the year covering different topics with the Disability Royal Commission. Darlene Thornton will be facilitating these webinars on a fortnight basis and would love to hear your stories and experiences so Deaf Australia can prepare our report to Disability Royal Commission.

We also encourage you to participate if you wish to directly share your experience to Disability Royal Commission and we will be able to assist you with your submissions.

To view webinar program (

  • NDIS – Information, Linkage and Capacity (ILC) Building Grant (2019-2022)

We are ramping up with the project with Paula Thornton and Vanessa Alford taking key role with this project as Resource Officers.

Before Christmas, we had a full day workshop to discuss ideas, plans and strategy to improve our engagement with you.

This project will focus on 2 things:

  1. Improve information distribution and
  2. Developing appropriate and accessible resources that will strengthen deaf community’s knowledge and skills.

We will be using staff, volunteers and others to provide information, workshops or training through online and in person.

Deaf Australia is working hard behind the scenes to prepare and develop the program for this year. We look forward to an informative year for everyone. If you have any suggestions, please share with us by sending us an email – [email protected].

  • Other information:

National Relay Service – registration required by 20 April 2020 – if you on or after 20 April, your application process may take longer. Please register here.

4th WFD Conference in Thailand has been postponed to 20-22 April 2022 due to Covid-19.

Public Statement – Deaf Australia’s Ambassador Program

In the last few weeks, Deaf Australia has seen and heard the deaf community’s concern and confusion about our Ambassador Program and how we determine who we appoint as our Ambassadors.

For many years, Deaf Australia did not have a Patron. A Patron is a high-profile person who can lend their name to help raise the profile of our organisation. It was difficult to find someone who would take on this role.  

In 2014, Deaf Australia created a new program, ‘Deaf Australia Ambassador’. This allowed us to have several people to increase awareness about Auslan, deaf people and Deaf Australia through their expertise, rather than having just one Patron.

Based on the recommendation of a board member, we agreed to appoint Ms Drisana Leviztke-Gray and Mr Andy Dexterity as our inaugural Ambassadors for Deaf Australia.

As part of our Ambassador Program, we were to develop guidelines on how Ambassadors should conduct themselves in their role to align with our values and principles.

Unfortunately, due to demands on our time and lack of human resources, we were unable to develop the guidelines. This led to confusion about what the role was for and concern within the deaf community. Mr Dexterity stepped down from his role as an Ambassador in 2019.

Deaf Australia regrets that we were unable to develop the guidelines and we apologise for the confusion and concern that this caused.

Deaf Australia is suspending the Deaf Australia Ambassador Program.  We will be reviewing the program and ensuring that we have appropriate guidelines, code of conduct and agreements in place before re-commencing the program.

Deaf Australia would like to express our appreciation to Ms Levitzke-Gray with her ongoing support for Deaf Australia, including through her success as Young Australian of the Year in 2015. Drisana raised funds of over $13,000 for Deaf Australia through her connections with Woolworths and the Dick Smith Foundation.  

Download Public Statement

  • END

Black Lives Matter

Presented by Rodney Adams, Director – Deaf Australia

We, Deaf Australia, stand by people who are wrongfully discriminated, and experience abuse and racism. Australia too has its own problem.

Racism, unfortunately dominates in Australia. This past week we celebrate National Reconciliation Week to highlight many racial issues in our community. Yesterday Australia gathered in major cities to protest the BLM ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. I I showed my support by joining the Darkinjung community here in the Central Coast NSW.

We held a minute silence to remember the 432 indigenous people who have lost their lives in police custody since 1991. The Royal Commission investigating into indigenous deaths in custody is a result of the 432 deaths recorded.

Many Indigenous Australians do not receive fair justice, and as many as 85% of Indigenous Australians currently in jail have undiagnosed hearing loss. They couldn’t access adequate supports and services that they needed in their life, instead their lives have broken down and now it’s difficult to move on without adequate support.

This deep-rooted discrimination and systematic oppression must stop.

We are all responsible for educating ourselves, learning and working hard to change this.


Interpreter on TV

Since the Bushfires last year, Deaf Australia sent letters to Premiers and Prime Minister reminding them their obligations to provide interpreters on TV, obligation outlined in the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability.

This has been supported by a research conducted by Curtin University where they demonstrated that live captioning is riddled with errors. This presents Deaf Australia with tangible evidence for the need of Auslan interpreter in these announcements.

Since then, most briefings from Prime Minister’s Office and Premier’s Offices include interpreters in these announcements. They are to be congratulated for their commitment to ensure Auslan users are receiving information in natural language.

This is only one part of overall picture. The provisioning of interpreting falls under the government’s responsibility.

The second part is the delivery of interpreters on televisions which falls under broadcaster’s responsibility.

Deaf Australia need to work intermediately between two parties, the government and the broadcasters. 

Deaf Australia and many members of the deaf community have often expressed concerns about the delivery of interpreter when there are too many obstacles such as banners and captioning overlapping the interpreter during its broadcast.

Deaf Australia has raised this with FreeTV who provide policy support for Channel 7, 9 and 10 and they have responded that they do not see a problem with these issues.

Deaf community around Australia have been providing regular updates on Auslan Media Access Facebook page and Deaf Australia has been monitoring this page to provide us with evidences to discuss with relevant authorities to improve the delivery of interpreter on television.

Deaf Australia has developed guidelines for broadcasters to appropriately use interpreter on the screen. In this guideline, we requested that interpreter is shown as 1/3 of the screen and not 1/8 of the screen. This guideline has not been followed by the industry.

Deaf Australia as member of Disability Support Services Committee which comprised with several Government agencies and many peak disability organisations, I have specifically raised issue with the Government agencies and their communication team and wished to discuss this as an opportunity to improve the delivery of interpreting on television.

I have provided them with samples of images and outlined issue of each image as problems and also provided them with sample of non-interpreted sessions that broadcaster can easily do 1/3 screen.

Channel 10 has improved their delivery and we wish to congratulate Channel 10 for taking our advice.

The other channels haven’t taken the advice and yesterday, I sent another correspondence and provided them with additional images to Communication Team to remind them that this is an ongoing issue that needs to be resolved.

We are seeing some improvements, but there is more work to do.

I wish to say thank you to Deaf Community for their continuing support and providing evidences in Auslan Media Access as they are useful for our advocacy work.

Thank you for your continuing support.

Covid-19 Updates (COVIDSafe)

Deaf Australia wishes to say thank you for helping to flatten the Covid-19 in the last few weeks. We are looking forward to easing the restrictions as there are fewer Covid-19 cases that are emerging.

We wish to remind you that there is potential ‘2nd wave’ of Covid-19 and for all of us to maintain our social distance until vaccination become available. Recent work into vaccination are promising and they need to go through steps to ensure that the vaccination is safe for people.

Deaf Australia encourage members of the Deaf community to download ‘COVIDSafe’ App that will help tracking other people or to yourself should you get in touch with someone who have COVID.

It is also important that having the App does not mean you are safe; it means it offers you and the community with extra precautions to stem down the Covid-19 and to assist Health officers to quickly contact the others to control the Covid-19.

Some people are worried about privacy. It is important to know that the App only have your name, your age range and post code. Government do not have other details. All activities are stored in your phone and is stored for 21 days. After 21st day, your activities will be deleted.

If and when you have Covid-19, the health official will ask you to upload your information from COVID-19. They will use this information to track your contacts in the 21 days to make to minimise the spread.

We need your help to flatten the Covid-19. To download the App, you can go to App Store for Android and Apple. It is free.

For more information about COVIDSafe, please visit this website: 

Easter 2020 – Updates

Easter 2020 – Updates

Deaf Australia submitted ‘Issues and Challenge with Telehealth Service and Medical Services for Auslan users during Coronavirus (COVID-19) to the Advisory Committee formed by Morrison Government focusing on provision of medical supports for People with Disability. You can find this document here.

The document recommends the following:

  1. That the Government provide an instructional video in Auslan describing to deaf community how to use a Telehealth services, showing examples of different technologies (tablet, iPad, smartphone);
  2. That the Government fund deaf people through their NDIS or My Aged Care and individuals not eligible for either programs to cover their out-of-pocket costs for required use of video interpreting services;
  3. That the Government enter an agreement with reputable interpreting agencies to provide interpreting services for the telehealth service; whereby the agencies shall:
    • Be listed as primary Telehealth Interpreting Services;
    • Ensure that interpreters are appropriately qualified for these bookings; and
    • Be compensated for the service rendered. 
  4. That the COVID-19 National Health Plan (factsheet) to contain listings of agreed interpreting services available for Deaf people to make informed choices of which agency to use for their Telehealth appointment;
  5. In the case where a deaf person is required to be hospitalised, the hospital is responsible to source an interpreter through their current arrangement, however, interpreters must be provided with appropriate protection gear when required; 
  6. If the hospital is unable to bring an interpreter onsite, then they should use a video-enabled tablet to connect with the interpreter while providing care to the deaf patient; and
  7. The Department of Health to explore enhancing its remote hospital service to allow 3-way video-connections so that doctors can provide support remotely through remote interpreters with a deaf person in a medical service.

We also discussed with Department of Social Services the following topics:

  • Telehealth (as above)
  • Deaf children studying at home
  • Seniors requiring to stay at home with little or no communication supports

We also met with World Federation of the Deaf and is joined by New Zealand and Fiji to discuss the following topics:

  • Interpreter on TV
  • Deaf children’s education (study at home)
  • Access to medical services and
  • Use of technology and devices to enable access to essential services.

World Federation of the Deaf advised that the upcoming World Federation of the Deaf International Conference held in Thailand (2021) has not been changed but will monitor the situation, as with World Federation of the Deaf Congress in South Korea in 2023.

Thank you to deaf organisations and ASLIA for contribution to the work that Deaf Australia does.

Keep safe, stay well during the Easter Weekend.

Open Letter to the National Cabinet

We are a diverse range of organisations from across Australia, representing the interests of people with disability, their families, carers and support persons. Collectively, we have significant, direct and growing knowledge of the impact of Coronavirus (COVID19) on people with disability in Australia.

Australians with disability represent some of the most excluded of all Australians in relation to the impacts of Coronavirus. Our needs remain largely forgotten as evidenced by the fact that people with disability are rarely if ever, mentioned in any press conference, media release or government conversation about Coronavirus. The national discourse relating to Coronavirus is inherently ableist – preferencing able-bodied people as the norm. This ableist discourse is resulting in the exclusion of people with disability in efforts to prevent the spread of and address, the impact of the Coronavirus.

We are deeply concerned by the lack of specific and targeted measures from Australian Governments to proactively protect and support people with disability, their families, carers and support persons from the impact of COVID19.

We call on all Australian Governments to take the following URGENT actions to protect the lives of Australians with disability in the context of COVID19:

  1. Guarantee continuity of supports for all people with disability
  2. Expand criteria for COVID19 testing to include people with disability and their support persons.
  3. Urgently improve information and communications to be inclusive of all people with disability.
  4. Take measures to remove the barriers to adequate healthcare for people with disability.
  5. Include recipients of the Disability Support Pension (DSP) in the Coronavirus Supplement of $550 per fortnight.
  6. Urgently define what constitutes an ‘essential service’ for people with disability.
  7. Ensure effective measures are in place to recognise and respond to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect of people with disability.
  8. Prevent discrimination of students with disability in the provision of education.
  9. Ensure the human rights of people with disability in congregate and other settings are upheld.
  10. Adequately resource Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs) and Disability Representative Organisations (DROs) to enable support of, and advocacy for, people with disability.

To view the full Open Letter

To view the full Open Letter (Easy Read)

Supporting Disability Organisations

First Peoples Disability Network
Women with Disabilities Australia
People with Disability Australia
National Ethnic Disability Alliance
Children and Young People with Disability Australia
Australian Federation of Disability Organisations
Disability Advocacy Network Australia
Deaf Australia
Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia
Deafblind Australia
Deafness Forum of Australia
Brain Injury Australia
Inclusion Australia
Blind Citizens Australia
Down Syndrome Australia
Physical Disability Australia
Every Australian Counts
Disability Resources Centre Advocacy
Disability Justice Australia
Enhanced Lifestyles
National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum
Imagine More
Advocacy Western Australia
Midland Information Debt and Legal Advocacy Service
Melbourne East Disability Advocacy
Queensland Advocacy Incorporated
Family Advocacy
Grampians Disability Advocacy
Syndromes Without A Name
Advocacy Tasmania
Southwest Advocacy Association
Victorian Rural Advocacy Network
Assert 4 All
Colac Otway Region Advocacy Service
Disability Information and Advocacy Service
Gipplsland Disability Advocacy
Community Resource Unit
AED Legal Centre
Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health
People with Disabilities Western Australia
Association for Children with Disability Tasmania
Association for Children with a Disability Victoria
All Means All
Queensland Collective for Inclusive Education
Southern Disability Advocacy
Rights Information and Advocacy Centre
Regional Disability Advocacy Service
Youth Disability Advocacy Service
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services
Spinal Cord Injuries Australia
Barwon Disability Resource Council
North East Citizen Advocacy
Julia Farr Youth
Leadership Plus
Women with Disabilities Victoria
Citizens Advocacy Perth West
Speakout Advocacy
Developmental Disability WA
Women with Disabilities ACT
Council for Intellectual Disability
Citizen Advocacy Sunbury
South Australian Council on Intellectual Disability
Parent to Parent Queensland
People with Disabilities ACT
Aspergers Victoria
Disability Advocacy and Complaints Service of South Australia
Disability Advocacy Victoria

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