“Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Ellie Wiesel
Never has the above quote been more true than in South Australia at the moment. The last Rebuttal article focused on the interpreter situation in South Australia. We wrote this article after being sent the open letter to the Deaf community in South Australia from Deaf Australia. The letter, of course, outlined the situation between Deaf Can Do and the National Auslan Booking Service.
Since writing the article The Rebuttal has received numerous communications on the subject. None of them paint the sorry saga in a very positive light. Unfortunately the communication has all been off the record. People feel that they will be victimised if they say anything openly. This is not surpising in a small state like South Australia where everyone knows everyone.
The Rebuttal is known for saying things as they are. However we can only cop so many bullets on behalf of others. In the past people have spoken out and been threatened with legal action. We at The Rebuttal are conscious that a lot of what is going on borders on bullying and victimisation. However, the threat of legal action is very real and we must remain cautious.
It is not helped by the fact that many of the people that are writing into us might, if it was known that they have written, be threatened with their jobs. All it takes is for their name to get out and suddenly they will be seen as a threat. They might suddenly see that they are no longer booked for jobs or the job they have might suddenly not be there anymore. THIS IS THE SITUATION AND THE FEARS ARE VERY REAL.
It is also not helped by the fact that the state advocacy body, through no fault of its own, has board members who are in fact employed by the agency that they may have to complain about. This is part of the reason that Deaf Australia are involved, simply because Deaf Australia South Australia has members that are not in a position to complain. It is not a healthy situation at all but a fact of life in a small state like South Australia who have a very small Deaf community.
However, we would like to remind people that there are laws that protect people against bullying and victimisation. If you feel that you might be bullied or victimised and know that something not right is happening we would encourage you to talk to organisations like Deaf Australia, Deafness Forum or even the Australian Sign Languahge Interpreters Association for advice.
Clearly something is not quite right in this situation. Remaining silent it will help no one. Seek advice now.