Are we being HEARD?

It’s important having your own voice, especially in today’s society.

Over the last 10+ years, I have learnt to be assertive and to stand up for my beliefs and rights. I have also learnt that it is important to be recognised as an equal citizen.

Just right before Christmas, the Australian Government announced that 13 peak disability organisations would not be refunded for 2015-2016. Hearts across the disability sector in Australia were broken. Only 6 groups will be funded. They are population groups – women, children, CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) and indigenous, which means ALL disabilities will be represented across those groups. Say, an organisation representing women with disabilities will be funded.

Colin Allen, President of World Federation of the Deaf, and past President of Deaf Australia explains it all clearly in a joint press statement with Ms Maryanne Diamond AO:

(Transcript available on YouTube)

Now, does that make sense?

No. It doesn’t. It’s absolutely absurd. I won’t be well represented in that women with disabilities organisation. Will they have Deaf staff? Will they have staff who are aware of Deaf rights? I highly doubt it.

I’ve been a supporter of Deaf Australia (previously Australian Association of the Deaf) since 1994. I’ve been a member on and off for the last decade.

Why is Deaf Australia important to me?

Deaf Australia is a not for profit organisation run by Deaf staff, and their Board members are all Deaf. They advocate for Deaf and HoH Australians who use Auslan on an national level. They understand the importance of Deaf rights. They are an ordinary member of the World Federation of the Deaf. Essentially, they are the peak organisation for Deaf Australians.

I did my Year 10 work experience with Deaf Australia back in 2001, and it was a life-changing experience (one of many!). I learnt more about their advocacy work. I learnt more about their philosophy. I learnt about why it is important to have a voice. I learnt about the importance of standing up for our rights as Deaf Australians.

I served on boards for Queensland Association of the Deaf (2003-2004 & 2006-2008) and Deaf Australia NSW (2010-2014) – both are state branches of Deaf Australia. I also had an opportunity to participate in the National Deaf Leadership Camp which was organised by Deaf Australia in 2003. All opportunities have been huge learning experiences and most importantly, made me the person I am today.

A couple of years ago, I received an email from Todd Wright, President of Deaf Australia. He was a Board member when he sent out this email. I have copied and pasted it here for your perusal.

I would like to encourage you to forward this note on to your family and friends if you believe in the value of this message.

This message is to encourage you to consider becoming a member of Deaf Australia.  If you are already a member, THANK YOU – please read on if you wish, and pass on this message if you wish.

This is a personal message from me alone, not from Deaf Australia.  While I am currently a Board Member of Deaf Australia, I am taking this action alone.

Why am I sending this message?  Because I was shocked to find out that a close friend of mine had no idea what Deaf Australia was and why it was an important organisation.  As I am currently on the Board of Deaf Australia, I want to make sure people out there understand what Deaf Australia is all about, and why we should support this organisation.

You may have noticed that over the years the Deaf community has slowly gained access to many things they were previously unable to get… things like:

– Employment Accessibility Fund (EAF, formerly known as Auslan For Employment) – where you can get funding for interpreting, online captioning, and other accessible technology and services at your place of employment

– Interpreting for private health appointments through NABS

– Cinema captioning – even though the cinemas haven’t perfected the technology yet (CaptiView) we can now choose from a few different movies and even from a few different times and locations – a big difference from a couple of years ago where we could only choose 1 or 2 movies at 1 or 2 locations 3-4 times a week

– Watch more captioned TV, where we have all programmes during 6pm-10pm captioned on all main free-to-air channels, and even some programmes on pay TV, and more and more during the day

– Make voice phone calls through the National Relay Service – even on mobiles with Windows Live Messenger!

Some of you may also remember in the late 90’s we had an amazing change where we could finally send SMS messages to all of our friends and family regardless of what carrier they were on (Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, etc) – something that I know many of us take for granted these days.

Who made these things happen??  While many people were involved, one organisation has been part of all these achievements in the Deaf community – Deaf Australia!

Deaf Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that represents the Australian Deaf community (including hard-of-hearing Australians), and Deaf Australia truly wants to achieve a Deaf community where we all are respected and fully included in the wider Australian community, and that the right to use Auslan is legally recognised, i.e. a Better Australia for Deaf people.

While things have improved, we are not there yet, and Deaf Australia is focusing on:

– Early Intervention and Education – making sure that Deaf and hard-of-hearing children and their families receive access to Auslan, particularly through bilingual education programs (Auslan and English)

– Access to Communications – better access for the Deaf/hard-of-hearding to Emergency services (eg. via SMS) and access to more Auslan interpreting services

– Access to Information – more captioning and Auslan on TV, DVDs, cinemas, internet, and in public address systems (eg. at train stations)

– Organisation Growth and Stability – more awareness in the Deaf community about Deaf Australia, stronger membership base,  better partnerships with other organisations, and achieving our strategic plan

Do you want to see the same things happen?  Do you want to see a Better Australia for Deaf people?

You can help Deaf Australia achieve this by becoming members and showing that YOU want a Better Australia for Deaf people.  By becoming members you can show your support of their strategic plan and to tell Deaf Australia what you think is important to change in Australia through their member surveys, and you can see what Deaf Australia is doing to make a Better Australia for YOU.

Becoming a member is easy – you can fill out the attached form and send it to info@deafau.org.au, and/or pay online at:
http://www.auslanshop.com.au/category64_1.htm

Membership for individuals only cost $30, which is less than a cup of coffee each month ($2.50).  You do not need to be Deaf to join.

Want a Better Australia for Deaf people?  Start by becoming a member of Deaf Australia today!

Todd’s message is incredibly powerful, and an important one to consider.

I recently renewed my membership with Deaf Australia, and I am glad that my $30 is going somewhere worthy. It’s only a TINY portion out of your annual income. Give up that cup of coffee every month, like Todd says, for Deaf Australia 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What stood out the most to me was: I was shocked to find out that a close friend of mine had no idea what Deaf Australia was and why it was an important organisation.

This is so true. I was at a friend’s house recently, and I relished the opportunity to ask them about Deaf Australia and if they were aware of it. No one was. No one understood the benefits of becoming a member of Deaf Australia. I wasn’t surprised, albeit being a bit shocked at the same time.

You know, a large number of Deaf & HoH youth are not members of Deaf Australia, nor are they aware of it. This is troubling, as they are our next generation of Deaf leaders and role models. As older Deaf people start making plans to move into their retirement homes, they cannot do all the work; they deserve to sit back with a good book and a cup of tea, go golfing, knit numerous jumpers and quilts, spend time with their grandchildren, and relish in what they have achieved throughout their lifetime. We need to carry on for them. It is important that we continue their work and to fight the good fight.

I said this on Twitter recently:

I am 100% aware that I am being biased, but as I said before, I have been a supporter of Deaf Australia for two decades. I know there are people out there who have had their moments with DA; like the saying goes, each to their own.

Deaf Australia has played a prominent role in the lives of numerous Deaf people across the country, and their work should be continued. Deaf Australia needs YOUR support more than ever.

How?

There’s two ways:

Donate here – it doesn’t matter how much. $5, $10 or $300. Every dollar will go a long way. Donations more than $2 are tax deductible.

Become a member – I’ve said it before. Todd has said it.

Once when Deaf Australia’s new The Deaf Friendly Scheme is rolled out later this year, you should sign up. It will benefit you in SO many ways than you realise.

Let’s save Deaf Australia!

S x

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