Category: Updates

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.

International Women’s Day 2024


International Women's Day, Friday the 8th of March 2024.

Deaf Australia will be joining the United Nations in celebrating International Women's Day with this year's theme: "Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress."

We all want to make this world a better place. This means we need to support and believe that girls and women can lead safer and healthier lives. By ensuring equality, which benefits all. We all need to work together to make this change and accelerate progress.

Deaf Australia wants to acknowledge and empower all Deaf women to improve their future for the better.

Happy International Women's Day to the all the women in the Deaf Community.

Visual description

Paula is a white woman with long blonde and curly hair. She is standing against a plain blue background and wearing a grey long-sleeved shirt with a scarf. She has glasses on and is signing towards the camera in a friendly manner.

Part Time Job Opportunity


Hello! I am Shirley Liu, Acting CEO at Deaf Australia.

We are excited to share a work opportunity with you – this will be only fixed term – 3 months (late March until late June).

Due to internal staff changes, we can offer this temporary position.

We are looking for a deaf person who is available as soon as possible, can meet our criteria, and fit into our organisation, Deaf Australia’s vision and purpose.

The title of the job is Project Assistant. Part-time means 3 days – 21 hours.

What responsibilities are involved in this role?

  • Have translation skills (Auslan to English, vice versa)
  • Manage some general email and administrative tasks, coordination, and logistics
  • Collaborate and support the team to ensure the timely production and logistics of Deaf Australia projects
  • Create a review & final outcome report after resources and projects are released
  • Consult with our deaf community members
  • Research and identify trending topics related to advocacy and community issues
  • And other general tasks

If you are interested, please send your Expression of Interest (EOI) and motivation statement to me at [email protected]. The EOI will be closed by 15 March 2024. Any questions, please contact me; I am happy to provide any further information.

Visual description

Shirley is standing against a beige background and is wearing a black t-shirt.

Interested? Send your EOI and Motivation Statement to
Shirley at [email protected]

NRS Poll


Hello! We would like to share an update with you about the NRS. The National Relay Service is under the responsibility of the Australian government. This means that the government will contract one company to manage the NRS for all people around Australia.

Every three years (sometimes extended) the government creates a new contract through a tender process. The government will pick a business and continue NRS. The contract is responsible to provide services to all people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech communication difficulty.

We can see that the NRS still has some issues. We (being a group of key disability organisation stakeholders) and us (Deaf Australia), are disappointed with the government because they didn’t follow proper procedure during this latest tender process. They didn’t consult with us prior to launching the tender regarding any issues. Unfortunately the tender process has already begun.

We are working on a collaborative approach to advocate for the best quality, because we can see how it is dropping each year. Don’t worry because we are currently working with ACCAN who are the peak national advocacy group for Australian communication consumers, similar to us at Deaf Australia. Also, they are knowledgable about what to do when communication issues arise and liaise with the government on possible solutions.

We have full spreadsheet of all the areas we want to improve, remove or add to regarding the NRS. Now, we are asking you all, the deaf community, to let us know if you support our work and respond if you’re happy. Then we can show the NRS our proposal and make sure it’s right and we have picked through the proposal with the relevant deaf topics.

I will give you a list and you let us know if it’s all good! This is a list of different types of support and services like:

Funding of NRS – need to keep ongoing funding, not less.

NRS chat 24/7 – keep this service the same, no changes.

VRS (video relay service) – right now has limited time and day we want to expand this to 24/7 availability.

TTY Services – keep this the same.

SMS Relay – keep this the same.

Captioning Services – like accessible captioned telephone for people who are oral – keep this the same.

Also we want to add education and training program to teach hearing people how to use NRS, and visit schools and teach deaf students how to use it.

Also to educate general hearing public about NRS and to avoid such incidents and misunderstandings when they receive NRS call and hang up or think it is a scam.

Also, how to improve 000 emergency calls though NRS.

Oops, there is one more! We want to remove NRS registration before using service. Meaning no requirement to register or login. You can start using NRS chat and video right away anytime. You won't have to log in or create an account to use service. It will be automatic and easy.

We also want to make sure this is an accessible platform for deafblind people and include them for any issues, discussion or design collaboration.

That is all for now. If you are happy with this proposal so far please fill out the poll to show your support. If you have any feedback or to raise another matter, please add it in the poll, we will be collecting all further notes. I will use to prepare for the next meeting and present. I want to show the connection to you, our community, and present to the government that the deaf community supports this advocacy endeavor!

Just to let you know, the poll closes Thursday 29th February 5pm AEDT. Meaning Sydney / east coast time. Thank you!

Visual description

Shirley Liu is wearing a black t-shirt and standing in front a plain green and blue gradient background. Her hair is pulled back . She is signing in an engaging way towards the camera.

Acting CEO Shirley Update – Feb 2024



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

This is a new role for me and I have already learnt so much especially about things I had never given much thought to in the past. This new experience has kept me very busy.

I’ve been pleased to watch the Deaf Australia team work so well together over the last three weeks. We have been busy preparing a toolkit that will be released next week. Please keep your eyes out for more information about this on Facebook, Instagram and, if you are a Deaf Australia member, in your inboxes.  

We have also been planning an event for the upcoming Auslan Day. You’ll find lots of information about this on our website.

Today, I attended the ‘Deaf History Collection’ launch – more information about this event is in the next video.

Today I attended the launch of the Deaf History Collection, a very special event that was held at the University of Sydney in a space that used to be occupied by the Darlington Deaf School.

Here in a very old building that holds many stories and memories for our community ex students and community members gathered. It was not only Sydney-siders that attended but community members from across the country that came together for this special and very enjoyable launch of the Deaf History Collection website.

The website, through various media types, documents the history of the deaf community in all areas of life including advocacy, education, sport and the arts.  

Deaf Australia would like to acknowledge and thank Deaf Connect for their significant investment in the Deaf History Collection and ensuring that it is available for our community to access, enjoy and learn about our history.  At the beginning of this projects journey, Deaf Connect reached out to Deaf Australia so that we could work collaboratively on this project.

Today was the launch of a living collection of our history. Please share the website with your friends, family and work colleagues. We will continue to document our history through the Deaf History Collection website.

Once again, Deaf Australia would like to thank Deaf Connect for their commitment to the project. We would also like to thank the Deaf community members and various organisations that have contributed to the collection so far.

Lastly, Deaf Australia will soon be posting another video about collecting your feedback about the National Relay Service (NRS) to inform our advocacy work.

Thank you for watching this update.

(Filmed 16 Feb 2024)

Visual description

Shirley is wearing a navy t-shirt standing in front of an old building and green bushes signing. Next to her is a light green flag that says “Deaf History Collections” in white text.

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

NDIS Roundtable for Remote, Rural and Regional

Reminder, published on 9th February 2024


Hello! I want to remind you about next Thursday night from 6.00pm to 7.30pm. We will have a roundtable about the NDIS, to talk about your experiences involved in the NDIS from people who live in remote, rural and regional areas. Don’t forget; next week on Tuesday night RSVPs will close. We will provide interpreters and captioning for those who’ve requested them. Thank you to those who’ve finished register for next week on Thursday night; we are looking forward to it. Bye!

Visual description

White woman with shoulder length hair wearing a black long sleeved t-shirt sitting against a creamy background. She is signing in Auslan about the NDIS roundtable event happening next Thursday night from 6pm to 7.30pm.


Hello! I’m Catherine, and I work at Deaf Australia as a policy officer. I want to let you know that Deaf Australia will have a roundtable to focus on NDIS experiences from people who live in remote, rural or regional areas. We want to know about your experiences with NDIS both good and bad, including access to services, things like that. We will have a series of questions to ask, to encourage discussion. We will have the roundtable on zoom, on Thursday 15th February from 6pm to 7.30pm. We’re really keen to see your experiences so please RSVP by 13th February (that’s on a Tuesday) in two weeks. If you have any accessibility requirements please let us know. If you’re keen to be involved please RSVP to [email protected]. Hope to see you there! Bye!

Visual description

White woman with brown shoulder length hair and a black jumper sitting against a creamy background signing about an opportunity to participate in a roundtable about experiences with the NDIS from a remote, rural and regional perspective.

Announcement CEO Jen Blyth on Leave


Hello, I'm Jen Blyth. I wanted to inform you that I'll be on leave from Deaf Australia for a while until approx mid-June. 

Shirley Liu will be the acting CEO during my absence. If you have any concerns, please feel free to reach out to Shirley and the rest of the Deaf Australia team using our usual email address. Shirley can be contacted at [email protected]. Also you can reach out to the Board members. 

I look forward to returning and seeing you all again in June. Bye.

Visual description

Jen Blyth has curly red hair and is wearing glasses and a black t-shirt with an Aboriginal pattern / design on it. She is signing in a friendly and concise manner towards the camera.

2023 Summary from Deaf Australia CEO Jen Blyth


Hello! I am Jen Blyth, CEO of Deaf Australia. I am on Wurundjeri Country of Kulin Nation. I want to give you a summary of what our team has achieved this year, but I have only picked out a few things to share for you to understand how busy we have been!

This year, I travelled around Australia and met with many of you and young Deaf people, in workshops facilitated by young Deaf leaders, to collect information about the NDIS. We also held online workshops with people, including those from the Queer community and parents of deaf children. Altogether there were 21 consultations. Thank you to those who attended.

We received many donations, thanks to those who donated, including those regular donors. This year, we received $11,892 and Deaf Youth Australia received $7,496, thanks again to those who donated who wanted to support both organisations so we can continue to do our work.

We had a Deaf Mental Health workshop earlier this, and we are still working on a summary to share, we had a lot of attendees who believe deaf mental health is important. We sent in 13 submissions and reviews, wrote two expert letters for you to use for you for your own advocacy needs. We created a ChildSafe package, which includes things like Safeguarding, security, appropriate conduct, and other things like mandatory reporting.

We had a ‘the Voice’ webinar, hosted in collaboration with Deaf Connect, but we must recognise the hard work of Jody Barney who worked really hard to get presenters involved and facilitated this workshop. It was our highest number of attendees, out of 9 total webinars, we had 150 attendees on both Zoom and Facebook that night. Wow, impressive, it really drove home how important this topic is to the community.

We had a Parliament Breakfast, organised in collaboration with Deaf Connect, hosted the week before NWDP, with many MPs and Deaf Youth attending to talk about issues that affect Deaf youth and Deaf community in Australia.

We also had a Crossing Borders Camp, with 45 people coming from all over Australia, between the ages of 12-17 – again this was in collaboration with Deaf Connect. It looks like we have been so busy with so many things happening.

We migrated to a new CRM, which allows us to email you and use your information better so we can contact you about many things, so far, we have sent 20 emails. If you haven’t received any emails, please consider becoming a member, or check that your details have been updated.

We had our AGM this year where we passed a new constitution and we approved the change from incorporation to CLG. Thank you to those who attended the AGM.

We had the Dot Shaw Young Writers Competition, sponsored by Sweeney Interpreting again for the second year in a row, thank you Sweeney! We really appreciate it. We had an Auslan Day competition with the theme ‘jaw-dropping’, this was sponsored by MyAuslan, thank you MyAuslan!

Auslan Santa grew from 3 states last year to 6 this year and also expanded to NZ, - it’s so great to see a positive reaction from the community – thank you!

DYA now has 7 members on the board, congratulations DYA, we look forward to seeing you doing wonderful things going forward – we should all watch this space.

We went to South Korea for the WFD Congress, it was an incredible experience to be involved in this. The next Congress winning bid was for UAE – this led to a lot of discussion and outcomes including a first ever in the history of WFD, a Special Meeting, where we re-confirmed that the next Congress will be in UAE.

People continue to join our social media channels, thank you for this! We also have renewed our relationship with SBS – last year we had ‘Our Deaf Ways’, this year, we have ‘Deaf Humans of Australia’ where one person from each state share their stories in 5-7 minute snapshots. We hope you will enjoy these stories from people with interesting things to share, which is hopefully going to be released in Jan.

We are also collecting personal advocacy stories from people who may want to share small stories about their own advocacy – if you would like to share yours, please do. We think we may have a separate page on our website to showcase these stories, and to remind people that it’s not only Deaf Australia who does advocacy, people do that on their own. Of course, you know this, but it may be interesting for others to learn how others have advocated and to build their own strategies.

We have made and edited over 100 videos and uploaded them onto Vimeo, this is a lot!

At NWDP this year, we had 5 webinars and the Colin Allen Lecture.

So, we’ve done a lot, we have been so busy! The team has been busy! Our team here has done a lot to connect and share with the community to provide a lot. Without the team, I couldn’t do my job, - I would like you to join me in congratulating and recognising the team’s hard work, and to recognise the board too.

Thank you, merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, stay safe and I hope to see you next year.

Visual descriptions

Opening slide: Graphic features a gradient red and green background with Christmas ornament shapes. The upper middle has a Deaf Australia logo. There is a screenshot photo of Jen Blyth from the video in a circle shape with white border. Title reads: "2023 Summary from Deaf Australia CEO Jen Blyth. Published: 22nd December 2023"

Video: Jen is standing indoors with a white brick wall and Human Rights poster behind her. She is wearing a black t-shirt and signing in a friendly 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”

Announcement Regarding Deaf Australia Membership Structure Changes


Hi My name is Debra Swann - Chair of Deaf Australia. This message is about the new membership structure following from the new constitution which was approved at our AGM last 18 November 2023.

The Board of Deaf Australia now have a new membership structure as following:

 1.⁠ ⁠General membership - $50 per year

 2.⁠ ⁠Low incomes and students - $25.00 per year

 3.⁠ ⁠Under 18. - $5.00 per year

From 18 November onwards - any new members who join will now follow this structure.

However for our current members - the new structure will start on 1st July 2025. Deaf Australia will email you before July 1, 2025, to inform you of the annual membership fee change. That applies to our existing members on the old membership structure, while new members will follow the new one.

In a few days, it will be Christmas. The board of Deaf Australia wishes you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Please stay safe and enjoy the holiday festival. We look forward to business with you in 2024 and beyond.

Visual description

Opening slide: Graphic features white Deaf Australia logo on a purple and blue gradient background. Below this is a circle shape with a screenshot of Debra Swann from the video. Title reads "Announcement Regarding Deaf Australia Membership Structure Changes.  Published: 20th December 2023."

Video: Debra Swann is signing in front of a festive Christmas tree background. She is wearing a black shirt, a red cardigan, and clear-frame glasses. She is signing in a friendly and professional manner.

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”

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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