Category: COVID – 19 Updates

Open Letter – Interpreter on Broadcast Networks

1 June 2020

Deaf Australia and the members of the Deaf Community in Australia wish to express sincere appreciation for the Australian government (both state/ territory and Federal) providing Auslan interpreters during COVID-19 briefings and announcements.

Having accurate knowledge ensures Deaf people can make informed decisions and take appropriate action to protect themselves, their family and the community. Deaf people as citizens, have helped to flatten the curve and been part of assisting to get Australia back on its feet.

This is not the time for Government to become complacent regarding the provision of Auslan interpreters during important briefing to all citizens of Australia. As restrictions are slowly being eased, everyone, including Deaf people, need to know what is happening. When an Auslan interpreter is not provided, the Government is perceived as being discriminatory to Deaf citizens.

Governments have the responsibility to ensure every citizen in Australia is informed, including Deaf people. This occurs through media conferences and briefings. Information delivered to all Australian citizens takes place on a number of important topics in addition to updates on the COVID-19 pandemic.

On behalf of the Deaf citizens in Australia we request that the government consider the communication needs of Deaf people in a proactive manner, not as an afterthought. This provision requires planning and processes that are clear and mandated. This provision of services needs to be imbedded into each government’s communication strategy.

Broadcasters share the responsibility for ensuring interpreters are displayed appropriately. Broadcasters are returning to their pre-COVID-19 processes where Auslan interpreters (when present) are cut out of the footage displayed on the TV screen, on social media postings and the internet, leaving deaf people without access to Auslan interpreted briefings. This needs to be addressed urgently. The current situation in many cases is that broadcasters are actively discriminating against Deaf people.

Deaf Australia calls on the Australian and state/territory Governments to ensure all media briefings and announcements are accessible to all citizens which requires the inclusion of Auslan interpreters and captions.

Deaf Australia calls on Broadcasters to ensure that the Auslan interpreters are included in all media footage and are able to be viewed clearly at all times.  This requires at least 1/3 of the TV screen displaying the Auslan interpreter and is unobstructed from all network banners and captioning displays.

We request these changes in good faith and recognise that in order to regulate this service, legislation may need to be introduced to ensure compliance. We request this be investigated and actioned to ensure the rights to media access are afforded to Deaf citizens as is the case for all others.

On behalf of Deaf citizens, Deaf Australia request an urgent common-sense approach to this issue that ensures Deaf people are afforded dignity. Deaf Australia believes that all levels of government are responsible to provide duty of care to all citizens of this great country.

Download Open Letter


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: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/covidsafe-app 

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

Covid-19 Updates (NDIS)

The NDIA announced that plans will no longer end. On the day your plan is due to expire, the NDIA will automatically extend it for 365 days. You will not need to do anything – it will happen automatically. That way there will be no gaps between plans for anyone to worry about.

Your extended plan will have the same budget and supports as your current plan.

The NDIA are trying not to have any face to face meetings at the moment (for obvious reasons). So around the time you are due for a review meeting, the NDIA will contact you to see if you are happy with your current plan. If you are, they will simply extend it for up to 24 months. No muss, no fuss.

If you don’t currently have support coordination in your plan you can now use some of your core funding to employ a support coordinator to help you. For people trying to juggle their supports at this difficult time, this might really be a help.

Specific for Deaf NDIS Participants:

  • You can use your core fund to purchase an appropriate device in the CORE supports (e.g.. can be used to fund everyday items participants may need. For example, low-cost/ low-risk category one assistive technology and equipment to improve your independence and/or mobility.
  • NDIA has now implemented to manage appointments effectively with the use of interpreters. Where possible, an Alert has now been added to the system to notify the staff member that the participant is an Auslan user. This has been added as an additional safeguard to ensure staff are booking interpreters for appointments where needed.

COVID-19 Updates (NRS and DSP)

National Relay Service (NRS)

National Relay Service (NRS) will remain open as recent announced restriction DO NOT APPLY to the NRS.

The NRS is an ESSENTIAL service, providing important assistancer to people who are Deaf, hard of hearing and/or speech impairment to keep in touch – and it is VITAL at this time.

However, the NRS is not immune from the widespread impact of COVID-19. Longer than usual wait times may be experienced due to increased call activities and reduced staff numbers.

The NRS Provider, Concentrix, is already exploring ways to continue to deliver the NRS at the greatest capacity possible while protecting the health of relay officers, including delivering the service remotely.

Please be patient during this difficult time.

The NRS Helpdesk is open Monday to Friday from o8am to 6pm (AEST), excluding public holidays. You can also leave message outside these hours and a Helpdesk staff will get back to you.

To receive messages and updates about NRS, sign up to Accesshub News and Alerts

Disability Support Pension (DSP)

In yesterday’s updates (COVID-19 Updates (Centrelink)), Information about accessing additional payments do not include Disability Support Pension (DSP). I am meeting with disability organisations tonight to discuss this matter and will provide you an updates regarding this issue tomorrow.

COVID-19 Updates (Centrelink)

Centrelink is currently VERY busy … some useful information to help assist you and Centrelink.

  • If you have Newstart or other payments, DO NOT contact Centrelink – your extra payment will automatically arrive.
  • If you are getting paid, not yet receive extra payment, please WAIT for 1 or 2 days to connect.
  • If you have lost your job and need to apply payment ASAP, you can
    • Go online and try to apply through MyGov ASAP. Try again when system is busy. Government will backpay your claim, you don’t need to lodge full claim immediately, but will need later.
    • In person, go to Centrelink and please practice Social Distancing.
  • Make a call to 132 850 via National Relay Service (expect queue for NRS and Centrelink).

DONT GIVE UP … Keep trying until you can lodge claim.

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