Category: Media Release

Media Release CEO Update 24 May


Hello I’m Shirley, the Acting CEO of Deaf Australia.

This is an important video to provide clear information to the deaf community. As you know, Deaf Australia has worked tirelessly over the last 3 years and we have seen some great achievements through our systemic advocacy, negotiations with government and as a representative with various disability organisations.  We have worked to ensure access to interpreters and have worked with many policy leaders to make sure that deaf people and Auslan is well represented in government discussions and decisions. We want to make sure that deaf community members enjoy a high quality of life.

Over the last 3 years Deaf Australia has been heavily reliant on government funding. Government funding has allowed us to increase our project work alongside our advocacy work. Each year Deaf Australia must apply for government funding. This year, we applied for three separate grants:

  • ILC: SCP – Information Linkages and Capacity Social and Community Participation
  • ILC: ICB – Information Linkages and Capacity Individual Capacity Building; and
  • DRO – Disability Representative Organisation funds for systemic advocacy work

Unfortunately, we have recently been informed that our applications for funding have been unsuccessful. Not receiving this funding leads to some uncertainty about Deaf Australia’s future operations. Unfortunately, we will not be able to retain all of our staff so some staff will be finishing their employment by the end of June this year.

This is a very sad and disappointing situation for our community. The Deaf Australia Board and I are working hard to consider how we can better Deaf Australia’s position into the future and to make sure that we can best support our staff through this difficult time. 

Deaf Australia is a member of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO). AFDO has arranged a consortium of 6 member organisations. Deaf Australia is a consortium member and we are fortunately able to obtain some funding through this consortium which will help us to continue some of our work in a limited way. Unfortunately, it is not enough funding to enable us to maintain all of our staff. 

We will continue working with AFDO to advocate to government about the funding impacts on Deaf Australia and other disability advocacy organisations. The consortium, lead by AFDO, has accepted a 7th disability organisation who has also been impacted by funding cuts into the consortium. We will provide a list of the consortium members which includes other organisations that represent sensory disabilities e.g. deaf, hard of hearing, and vision. All members have been impacted by the loss of government funding.

AFDO will be launching a campaign aimed at increasing government funding to our organisation and to put pressure on government to acknowledge the important work that our organisations do. The campaign will be visible on social media in the coming weeks.

Deaf Australia thanks you for your support and we will continue to keep you updated about the position of Deaf Australia and its operations going forward.

We are very privileged to work with our community and we are committed to continuing Deaf Australia’s operations with the community into the future.

Thank you.

Visual description

A woman is sitting in a chair, dressed in a blue sweater, facing the camera and smiling. She is making a sign language gesture with her left hand, which is the sign for "hello" in Auslan. There is text on the image providing context to the scene, which reads "CEO Update 24 May 2024" on the top left, and "Hello I'm Shirley, the Acting CEO of Deaf Australia" at the bottom of the image. The background is blue with a curtain on one side, and the overall impression is of a warm and personable setting likely intended for an online audience.

Deaf Australia and affiliated organisations express profound disappointment in Disability Royal Commission recommendations


The final reports of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of People with Disabilities, handed down on September 29 2023, have left the Deaf community disappointed. Despite extensive submissions by Deaf Australia and numerous other deaf organisations and individuals detailing the lived experiences of the Deaf community, not one of the 222 recommendations explicitly addresses the unique challenges faced by Deaf, Deafblind, hard of hearing and Deaf+Disabled people.

While recognising our identity as a disability group, we primarily identify as a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community, embracing the proud language of Auslan, culture, values, arts, and shared heritage. The barriers we encounter in every aspect of our lives do not stem from our deafness but are imposed by societal expectations, even from within other disability cohorts, dictating how we should be, communicate, act, and live.

Our disappointment in the recommendations of the Disability Royal Commission (DRC) is an understatement; we are profoundly disillusioned with the disparity between the promised potential of the DRC and its actual delivery. The broad and sweeping recommendations run counter to our advocacy, particularly during public hearings including Public Hearing 29, where the experiences of violence against Deaf and Deafblind people were discussed. We question the absence of focus on critical issues such as early intervention, language deprivation, Auslan as a human right, and the utmost necessity of a bilingual and bicultural model for deaf babies and children.

Of particular concern is the recommendation for the closure of special schools, a direct contradiction to the Deaf community's consistent call for more bilingual and bicultural schools. Institutions like Toowong State School in Queensland, where both deaf and hearing children learn in two languages—Auslan and English—are emblematic of the inclusive educational environments we champion. The closure of Deaf schools across Australia, despite our community’s pleas, has resulted in deaf children struggling in mainstream settings without adequate support and the presence of other deaf peers. What hearing people see as inclusion of deaf children is integration: a physical placement with an Auslan interpreter IF they are lucky with no other deaf peers, deaf mentors and deaf teachers of the deaf fluent in Auslan. This has failed spectacularly for deaf children. The International Disability Alliance’s Inclusive Education Report (2020) has explicitly stated: -

“...sign language access for learners who are deaf... [is] essential for meeting the right to education; this access cannot always be provided in local settings...”

While acknowledging the DRC's recommendation on Auslan interpreting, it is crucial to recognise that it only addresses service provision and fails to dismantle social barriers hindering our community's full engagement with society. Utilising Auslan interpreters does not mean that there is a true and inclusive society at play where any Deaf person can interact with any person they meet, but instead asks that the Deaf person waits until a qualified non-Deaf person is available to act as an intermediary. This recommendation is more about providing jobs to hearing people than about empowering our community members to become full citizens in their own communities.

Further, this recommendation holds little meaning without the right and ability to use Auslan. Ignoring crucial statistics, such as the high percentage of deaf babies born into non-signing families (97%) and the resulting language deprivation (50-70%), demonstrates a careless disregard for the unique challenges faced by the Deaf community.

The stories that emerged from the DRC are not new to us, as the national peak advocacy body for all Deaf, Deafblind, hard of hearing, and Deaf+Disabled people who use Auslan, and as Deaf individuals ourselves. We acknowledge the bravery of those who shared their traumatic experiences during the proceedings. However, it is disappointing that none of the recommendations recognise these stories, from language deprivation and educational inadequacies to systemic denial of access and shocking experiences across all stages of life and did not translate these into genuine recommendations that would lead to real change.

We urgently call upon the Australian Government and state and territory governments to rethink a one-size-fits-all approach to disability, and to consider the vital need for bilingual and bicultural approaches in early intervention and educational settings for all children born or becoming deaf, deafblind, hard of hearing, and deaf+disabled. We expect their responses to reflect this consideration by March 31.

Visual description

Opening slide: Graphic features white Deaf Australia logo on a green and brown gradient background. Below this is a circle shape with Royal Commission logo on purple background. Title reads "Deaf Australia and affiliated organisations express profound disappointment in Disability Royal Commission recommendations. Published: 18th December 2023."

Video: Shirley is sitting in a black desk chair against a white wall. She is wearing a black t-shirt and signing in a professional and plain manner towards the camera.

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

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

Visual Description

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

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

Friday 10th November, 2023. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

About Deaf Australia:  

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

Auslan Santa 2023

Sign up information​

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

Sign up for a booking with Auslan Santa

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Welcoming Disability: It’s time to tackle Australia’s discrimination against migrants with disabilities

Over 100 organisations and experts call on federal government to end Australia’s discrimination against migrants with disabilities

A group of more than 100 organisations and experts have signed an OPEN LETTER calling for urgent reform of Australia’s migration health laws to remove their discriminatory impact on people with disabilities and health conditions. The letter is part of the Welcoming Disability Campaign led by Down Syndrome Australia and Australian Lawyers for Human Rights.

Under Australia’s current legal framework, people are being refused Australian visas purely on the basis that they have a disability or health issue, even though they meet all of the other visa requirements.

See the full letter and media release below.

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

Crossing borders Youth Camp – Camp Coordinator Announcement


Crossing borders Youth Camp - Camp Coordinator Announcement
Hi everyone! My name is Erin. Deaf Australia and Deaf Connect have been collaborating and they have an exciting announcement for Crossing Borders Youth Camp 2023. I will be your camp coordinator for 2023 camp. How exciting! I’ve been involved in various camps, meeting new friends, skills and experiences has been truly worthwhile. I am privileged to have the opportunity to provide you with a wonderful worthwhile camp! Youth applications and leader applications will be released soon also the venue of where the camp will be too. I’m sure you’re all excited waiting for camp! If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me anytime - [email protected]
Thank you, bye!
Media Release (English)
Sign up for a booking with Auslan Santa

Suicide Postvention Update


I would like to share a message on behalf of a few organisations – Deaf Australia, Deaf Connect, Deaf Victoria and Expression Australia.  We would like to acknowledge recent events in Australia that had profound impact on the deaf community. We have lost two amazing men, we recognise the immediate need in the community to receive support through this sad period.

The four organisations know that the Deaf community needs support now from various organisations and services, and to understand how to support each other.

We would like to confirm that we are collaborating with Standby organization. They specialize in post suicide supports. We want to ensure the community receive right support they need during this time. We intent to create resources for you to use, ensure there’s right professionals and interpreters available for you to meet.

We are focusing on what we can do now, what we can do in the coming weeks, and what we can do in the long term. A lot of work is being done in the background, and we want to be transparent and will share as much as possible – including more information about supports, services, resources in Auslan. We are seeking expert advice and support too.

We apologise for release the information today not earlier this week. We wanted to have right information for you all. We will also be sharing what services and resources are available in Auslan following expert advice from Australia and overseas.

We also welcome any person with experience in deaf mental health to reach out your interest in supporting the community through counselling, support person or resources development by contacting Deaf Australia at [email protected]. Additionally, if you would like to get more information or let us know something, please also contact me at the same email address. 

There will be another video coming up later today about the Standby organisation.

There will be more videos coming up. Please take care of yourself and each other.

Lifeline: Text 13 11 14

Beyond blue:



Deaf Australia  - [email protected]

Come meet Auslan Santa!

Special Santa Announcement!*

*New dates added


Hello! I've got an exciting announcement! We (Deaf Australia) have teamed up with Westfield Shopping Centre to create an Auslan Deaf Santa!

Deaf Santa will visit three different shopping centres. NSW Parramatta on 26 November. VIC Southland on 27 November. And QLD on 2 December.

It's important that you make a booking online before you go! Make sure you have a look at the link to the booking system through Westfield's website. That's where you'll be able to book!

Alright, if you want more information you can have a look at our website! Bye!

Sign up information
Westfield Parramatta

Saturday 26 November
3 – 6pm

Saturday 03 December
5 – 8pm

Westfield Southland

Sunday 27 November
3 – 6pm

Westfield Chermside

Friday 2 December
3 – 6pm

Friday 9 December
5 – 8pm

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

Deaf children up to $367,445 worse off without early Auslan intervention

Media Release from Deaf Connect

Media Release (English)
View on Deaf Connect website
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