Late last year, during the announcement of the results of the Same Sex Marriage Postal Survey, Channels 7, 9 and 10 failed to include the ABS’ Auslan interpreter in the screenshot continuously. Deaf Australia wrote to each of the Broadcasters to convey that we thought it was a deliberate and disrespectful act in excluding specific members of the Australian Community. We informed them that we would make complaints against the broadcasters. Several members of the deaf community also said they would join Deaf Australia to make a complaint.
Julia Mansour, Senior Solicitor from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, has provided legal assistance to Deaf Australia to conciliate with FreeTV, who represents all commercial free to air licensees, to address the failure of the Networks to show Auslan interpreters on screen.
FreeTV, the peak body for the commercial networks, has now agreed to amend their Advisory Notes. The note ‘Portrayal of People with Disabilities’ will now read:
‘Whenever Auslan interpreters are present at a broadcast event, consider whether it is practicable to clearly include them within the frame.’
The Advisory Note ‘Emergency Information Broadcasts’will now read:
‘Where an Auslan interpreter is present at a news conference, official briefing regarding an emergency, or a public announcement of national significance and other events, licensees will include the Auslan interpreter in the frame. While there may be exceptional circumstances where inclusion of an interpreter is not practicable, licensees will take all reasonable steps to ensure that interpreters are included in the camera shot and in a manner where they can be clearly seen.’
What this means is that broadcasters know they will include need to include interpreters and will not cut interpreters off from the screen shots. This includes editing of videos. If broadcasters exclude interpreters, individuals can lodge complaints with the Australian Human Rights Commission or the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
In the next 6 and 12 months, Deaf Australia will be providing ongoing feedback to FreeTV from its members about this issue and will hear back from FreeTV about any initiatives in regard to trainings of its member networks. If you see an Auslan interpreter cut out of a television broadcast, get in touch and let us know.
Mr Todd Wright, Chairperson of Deaf Australia, said it is ‘a commonsense approach to an inclusive broadcast so that Auslan users can obtain information in their preferred language’ and is appreciative that representatives of, FreeTV, have‘listened to the deaf community’.
Deaf Australia would like to express appreciation and gratitude to the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and to individual members of the Deaf Community for their support.