CE update – 13 April 2022


Hello I’m Jen Blyth, CEO of Deaf Australia. I want to give you an update in this current TTT. Today is the 13th of April, which means it’s Auslan Day. I was born Deaf to Deaf parents as part of a Deaf family with many Deaf cousins too. I grew up as part of the Deaf community which is profoundly a part of me. I’m so proud of my community and my language, Auslan; it is an inalienable part of my identity. I feel this deep sense of warmth when I see people interacting in Auslan, showing respect and love for the language, same as me.

How is Deaf Australia celebrating Auslan Day? Well, in quite a few ways; firstly the Auslan Day Video Competition where the community was invited to get involved, send their videos & vote. Later we’ll announce the winners in this TTT. Secondly, the SBS vodcasts - video versions of podcasts - where different Deaf people talk about different Deaf things. It’s titled “Our Deaf Ways” and it involves topics like the history of Deaf people and Auslan; the older generation talk about life before technology and Deaf Gain. I’m really excited to watch them, I haven’t seen them yet myself!

I really want to acknowledge and applaud my team - am so proud of them, for being involved and making this happen. I applaud them because there were many hours put into this, so again, applause all round.

I want to give you an update on National Week of Deaf People which is happening on the 19th to 25th September of this year. The theme for this year is: Building Inclusive Communities for All which means we openly invite all to be a part of our community regardless of their backgrounds, differences and identities. There will be different events that week, including Deaf Australia’s AGM, Dot Shaw Young Writers Competition, the Colin Allen Lecture. We’ll start the nominations process in the not too distant future; we’ll be asking for participation in presenting the Lecture.

I want to give you a quick update on the election that’s coming up. You know how Deaf Australia and Deaf Connect are collaborating to plan campaign strategy to governments. We also collaborate with this organisation called Per Capita, I have update you over time what’s been happening. We did research with them over the topic of Auslan & Deaf people’s participation around Australia; what were the benefits? The economics report - which means what is the monetary value of Deaf people and value of Auslan- you know how people always say that Deaf people are expensive, interpreters are expensive, including Deaf people is expensive? Well, this report turns things around by asking what is the positive benefit of being a Deaf person in this context? How much is Auslan worth? We will give this report to governments so they can see this and realise that Deaf people are a worthy contributor, not seen as expensive. Part of the report will fit in with our advocacy to governments to make them see Deaf people’s and Auslan’s worth and value. It is to try and develop relationships and collaboration to gain increased funding to promote Auslan as a real language and to get them to recognise Auslan’s importance, as the language of Deaf people.

Maybe recently you’ve seen the ALP, the Australian Labor Party on Monday announce their first election promise which is to give $1.5 million to the Shepherd Centre for HearHub, a digital platform to provide services in AVT. The Deaf community was upset to see funding provided to AVT; why not to Auslan as well? I understand how you feel; we feel the same. Deaf Australia did respond by releasing a media release to get them to think about Auslan too.

What was the background behind this, how did they suddenly get $1.5 million? Back in 2016 the centre did economic reports to show the benefits of AVT, the same tactic we are doing for Auslan, how it is beneficial for Deaf people. They showed this research to government in 2016 and again in 2019. They networked, developed relationships and pressed their case, from all the way back in 2016. Then finally they got what they wanted, which was $1.5 million. We are hoping to get similar results with our research then we can start networking, develop relationships and collaborate with government figures. Does that mean we will now get immediate results? No, it will take time, possibly years to advocate our case. That’s why part of us feel like we’ll be advocating forever! So now you have some background regarding this.

We also focus on advocacy, individual advocacy that is, including advocating to NDIA & AAT and at the local stage. We also do varying levels of advocacy across a wide range of things, including this recent event in Newcastle, working with the Hunter Valley and New England Health region. The focus was to think about Deaf people’s experiences with the health system there: the barriers encountered with doctors, nurses, GPs, physiotherapists and ambulances. And of course interpreters, how people want to have their preferred interpreters and how they aren’t easy to book in short timeframes. We did 3 days of feedback and discussions with the Deaf community there, which we then passed on to the healthcare system in that region. It was really positive and we will be keeping an eye on any action they decide to take and prod them if needed.

That’s all the updates from me now, I hope you all have a wonderful Easter and a happy Ramadan. Thank you, bye for now!

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