National Week of Deaf People 2014

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (4.27): Today I would like to talk about the National Week of Deaf People. Thank you to members for agreeing to have an interpreter here today. I would like to introduce interpreter Mandy—this is her sign name—and I will hand over to her to interpret the rest of my speech.

The National Week of Deaf People is a week-long national celebration of deaf individuals and the deaf community. It is a week when deaf people in Australia and around the world celebrate being deaf and being part of the international deaf community. It is an opportunity to celebrate the community language, culture and history of deaf people in our country. It is an opportunity to make the public aware of local, state and national deaf communities that are part of us, and to recognise the significant achievements that are made by those within our deaf communities.

The theme of the National Week of Deaf People for 2014 is "strengthening human diversity", and it runs from 18 to 24 October. Deaf Australia is the driving force behind National Week of Deaf People. One in six Australians experience some form of hearing loss and, as a subset of that, there are approximately 30,000 Auslan-using deaf in Australia.

We have come a long way with Auslan interpreters on TV during emergency broadcasts, and with captioning available on more and more programs on free-to-air and pay TV, but we need to do more and do everything we can to be inclusive of this community. We still have a way to go to improve communication access in schools, in the legal system, in hospitals and in workplaces, to name just a few.

But just as importantly, we can recognise and promote awareness that there are a number of programs to assist communication access, such as the workplace modifications scheme, the Auslan for employment program, the national Auslan booking service, or NABS, for interpreters for medical appointments, the provision of captioning at many performances at the Canberra Theatre, the national relay service, and much more.

I recognise that many of these programs have come about due to the systemic advocacy and lobbying of organisations such as Deaf Australia, Deafness Forum of Australia, the ACT Deafness Resource Centre, Deaf Children Australia, Aussie Deaf Kids, and many more.

In addition, a number of outstanding individuals have contributed, and continue to contribute, to championing the rights of deaf people. There are also many organisations, such as deaf netball clubs, deaf touch footy, other sporting groups, parent support groups, teachers of the deaf, interpreters and those who teach Auslan, and many others to thank for their ongoing work.

One of my own teachers was interpreter Mandy, to whom I am very grateful, although she is probably a bit disappointed by how much I have forgotten and my lapses into bad habits over the years.

Thank you very much to the Auslan interpreters who assist with communication access for deaf people. Just the other night I was at an AFL football club presentation and met a group of deaf friends, one of whom had played football in a women's AFL team this past season, and interpreter Sarah was with them.

Thank you to all those whose job it is or who volunteer their time and effort to support and include others, including Pete Halsey and Mark Parkinson at the ACT Deafness Resource Centre. You can find out more about the ACT Deafness Resource Centre at I especially thank interpreter Mandy for being here today.

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