Tuesday, 30 June 2020
Auslan service Deaf NT closes as clients struggle through coronavirus. Jessica Nelson says she was unable to learn Auslan until she was nine years old and is worried others will struggle with Deaf NT closing.
As many deaf people in the Northern Territory struggle to understand COVID-19 emergency updates without access to an interpreter, their situation will worsen today with the closure of the NT's only specialised Auslan service.
The World Health Organization considers hearing loss a public health emergency in the NT Despite the need for support, the NT's only specialised Auslan service closes its office today The decision has outraged many in the disability community Deaf Children Australia operated Deaf NT in the Territory for eight years, providing Auslan lessons, social events and advocacy for people with hearing loss.
Deaf Children Australia chief executive David Wilson said closing the service came down to a "business decision" after Deaf NT's funding ended through the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). "It really has been unsustainable to have that office operating ongoing," he said. While an NDIA spokesperson said the agency would ensure impacted Territorians would continue to receive support, the closure has Deaf NT client Jessica Nelson anxious for the future of the deaf community.
During the coronavirus pandemic, an Auslan interpreter had to be sourced from interstate because the Territory's only full-time interpreter employed through the National Auslan Interpreter Booking Service resigned and the role was defunded in October. "Why aren't there enough people here? Why isn't there any funding, Where's all the funding gone?" Ms Nelson said.