Thursday, 22 August 2019
Hundreds of deaf Australians are being denied thousands of dollars to pay for sign language interpreters because they’re too old to qualify for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
So-called ‘deaf elders’ claim it’s a clear case of age discrimination and say it’s contributing to worsening loneliness and depression within their community. “She’s worried about her friends over 65, their health. Their mental health is deteriorating,” Tina Stuart told 10 News First while also interpreting for her mother Elizabeth Karn. “I just feel like they’re the forgotten ones.” Tina takes Thursdays off work each week so she can drive two hours to see her parents, Elizabeth and Walter. Both are deaf and are excluded from the NDIS because they were older than 65 when the scheme was rolled out in the NSW Illawarra region, where they live.
Elizabeth had initially been excited about the long-awaited NDIS but was devastated to learn she’d miss out because of its age limit. The scheme provides recipients thousands of dollars each year to pay for Auslan interpreters, who can charge up to $200 per hour. Auslan is the language of the deaf community in Australia. The average annual pay-out under the NDIS is $5,300 per person and there is little restriction on what the interpreter may be asked to do: visit a bank, a supermarket, a lawyer, or even a protest.
A deaf man says he has stopped seven people killing themselves by listening like no one else can.
David Russell, 49, roams the streets of Worthing at night taking pictures and looking for people to help. He used to be homeless but turned his life around with photography six years ago. One night, he was walking along the promenade in the West Sussex town when he saw a woman running down the beach towards the sea. He said ‘I knew something was up and I ran down and shouted to her. ‘She said, “Leave me alone, I just want to die”. David Russell said he’s saved seven people at Worthing beach.
‘I said, “Please just give me one chance and if you still feel like there’s nothing I can do to stop you, I will leave.” ‘She said her son had died and she just couldn’t cope. ‘I told her your son wouldn’t want you to feel like this, he’d want you to be happy and start a fresh life. ‘It was 1am and I left her at about seven in the morning. ‘She had been drinking and had driven from Horsham. I wanted to make sure she sobered up before she left.’ David is deaf in both ears but has residual hearing and comes into his own in one-to-one situations.
NOTE: No wonder awareness doesn't work, 'deaf but still has residual hearing', either you are deaf, or you are not surely? you cannot be deaf AND hearing. Deaf in both ears too? No wonder confusion and inequality reigns!