In the last few weeks, Deaf Australia has seen and heard the deaf community’s concern and confusion about our Ambassador Program and how we determine who we appoint as our Ambassadors.
For many years, Deaf Australia did not have a Patron. A Patron is a high-profile person who can lend their name to help raise the profile of our organisation. It was difficult to find someone who would take on this role.
In 2014, Deaf Australia created a new program, ‘Deaf Australia Ambassador’. This allowed us to have several people to increase awareness about Auslan, deaf people and Deaf Australia through their expertise, rather than having just one Patron.
Based on the recommendation of a board member, we agreed to appoint Ms Drisana Leviztke-Gray and Mr Andy Dexterity as our inaugural Ambassadors for Deaf Australia.
As part of our Ambassador Program, we were to develop guidelines on how Ambassadors should conduct themselves in their role to align with our values and principles.
Unfortunately, due to demands on our time and lack of human resources, we were unable to develop the guidelines. This led to confusion about what the role was for and concern within the deaf community. Mr Dexterity stepped down from his role as an Ambassador in 2019.
Deaf Australia regrets that we were unable to develop the guidelines and we apologise for the confusion and concern that this caused.
Deaf Australia is suspending the Deaf Australia Ambassador Program. We will be reviewing the program and ensuring that we have appropriate guidelines, code of conduct and agreements in place before re-commencing the program.
Deaf Australia would like to express our appreciation to Ms Levitzke-Gray with her ongoing support for Deaf Australia, including through her success as Young Australian of the Year in 2015. Drisana raised funds of over $13,000 for Deaf Australia through her connections with Woolworths and the Dick Smith Foundation.