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Inclusion and access! Meaningless words for Deaf Australians as Australian Electoral Commission deems Auslan translation of The Voice is ‘not required’ and the Federal Government can’t help.

Expression Australia 2 mins read

Millions of Deaf and Hard of hearing Australians are being denied access to adequate information about the Voice to Parliament because the Australian Electoral Commission decided that Auslan translation videos were 'not required'.

Expression Australia, the foremost service provider for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Australians took its concerns to the Australian Government yesterday but was surprised to discover that the Federal Government was unable to intervene as the AEC is responsible for the administration of federal referendums.

Expression Australia CEO, Rebecca Adam is outraged at what she says is 'discrimination by omission' claiming that it's an appalling irony that a decision concerning Deaf and Hard of hearing Australians was made without their input and that limited information risked a plethora of donkey votes. "Access and inclusion are words used so often that the actuality of what they mean is forgotten. Auslan is the first and for many, the only language for thousands of DAHOH, Auslan does not directly translate into English text, we must stop assuming all Deaf people can read English. The decision by the AEC and inability of the Federal Government to intervene is a classic example of where policy gets in the way of understanding communication needs for a vulnerable community that is silent through Deafness and without a voice."

Ms Adams is the first Deaf person to lead the organisation in its 139 year history and is hopeful that the outcome of her meeting with the Government's key advisors will lead to meaningful change in the future. "We need interpreters for all announcements, it's not just emergencies that DAHOH is interested in, we are a part of the Australian community and communication is key at any level of engagement including  but not limited to discussion about the Voice being available in Auslan for Deaf and Hard of hearing Australians.

It estimated that there are four million Deaf and Hard of hearing people in Australia and 43% of Indigenous Australians over seven years of age have hearing loss. Following the decision by the AEC in August, Expression Australia with Deaf Aboriginal Services created the first and only Auslan videos about the 14th of October vote and is now working on translating a webinar to inform those who would otherwise have no access to information in their first language.    

Key Facts:
  • More than 4 million Australians are Deaf and Hard of hearing (DAHOH) 
  • 43% of Indigenous Australians are DAHOH - Approx 500,000 
  • Latest census estimates approx 17K use Auslan as their only form of language - though estimated to be much higher.
  • Auslan doesn't translate directly into written English. 
  • Expression Australia CEO, Rebecca Adam is the organisation's first Deaf CEO and available for interview

About us:

About Expression Australia

Expression Australia’s purpose is to create opportunities for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing by delivering targeted services and affecting social change. Expression Australia enables Deaf communities to flourish and is inclusive of all members of those communities, irrespective of age or background.

Since 1884, as an iconic and progressive community organisation, our service delivery and supports continue to evolve and adapt to the changing needs of our Deaf and hard of hearing people. We celebrate the rich heritage and cultural diversity of the Deaf community.

Our team is driven by a passion to work in a bi-lingual, bi-cultural organisation that respects both Auslan and English and work collaboratively together, including the development of co-designing services and market leading programs, navigation of the NDIS and ensuring improved access,inclusion, and equal opportunity.

Contact details:

For interviews and more information:

Kellie Curtain

M: 0412339690

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