Queensland MP David Gibson responds to Queenslander of tyhe Year Award – Taken from CODA Australia website.

Please see below the Budget in Reply speech given last Friday morning by Gympie MP, David Gibson in the Queensland Parliament which addresses the issues raised by members of  the Deaf community and CODA Australia in some part:

David Gibson



Mr GIBSON (Gympie—LNP) …It is now appropriate for me to turn my remarks

to the funding provided in the budget for Queensland children suffering from hearing

loss. As many in this chamber would be aware, as a child of deaf parents I am

intimately aware of the challenges deaf people face. Any funding that is provided for

early detection and intervention of hearing loss for infants and children is welcome as

it is an important step towards giving our kids the best start in life. As elected

representatives, however, we must remember that deafness is more than just a

medical condition that requires a techno-fix. It is recognised that cochlear implants are

an important advancement in assisting deaf people to be able to communicate in a

hearing dominated world, but we must also accept that individuals who are deaf do not

simply have damaged ears. Any government that does not accept this will be

implementing a flawed policy direction.

Deaf people belong to a community, a culture. In this sense deafness is unique

amongst disability types. A sense of culture is strongest amongst those for whom sign

language is their primary language, but it extends to all who use sign language

regardless of their level of proficiency. It is this linguistic bond perhaps more than any

other factor that binds the deaf community together. In many ways the social character

of the deaf culture can be compared to that of any immigrant culture. Just as there is a

strong sense of pride amongst the Sudanese or the Greek in their heritage and their

societies there is a strong sense of pride amongst the deaf and they enjoy the status

of a cultural and linguistic minority. Deafness is much more than just a physiological

disability; it is a way of life.

It was therefore extremely unfortunate that in accepting the Queenslander of

the Year award last week, Dimity Dornan from the Hear and Say Centre said—

I stand here to represent all the children who are deaf and all who haven’t been born yet who are deaf.

She further stated—

Deaf is not deaf anymore.


I would hope that these remarks were not scripted but rather spoken in the

exuberance of the moment and are now regretted, for they have caused concern

amongst the deaf community throughout Australia. The funding provided by this Labor

government for the Hear and Say Centre is significant, but we must recognise that the

auditory verbal approach is only suitable for some deaf children. This government

must show respect for the broader deaf community and recognise the worth and

benefits of sign language as a valid communication choice for parents of deaf children.

It is unfortunate that the media statements from the Bligh Labor government on this

budget announcement do not reflect that respect to the deaf community.

The inference in media statements that future funding would be cut by a Labor

government from Education Queensland programs for hearing impaired students as a

result of this budget funding announcement is of deep concern. Further, the media

statements imply that the only way deaf children are able to communicate is with a

cochlear implant. This is simply not true and does not recognise the value of sign

language known as Auslan. Auslan is an integral part of the richness of culture that is

valued in the deaf community. No government should support the view that the deaf

should be forced to assimilate into the dominant culture of spoken English. But from

the wording of the media statements it appears that this is Labor’s position.

We must recognise that a combination of communication strategies and options

need to be funded and offered to all deaf children and their parents if we are to be

serious about providing the strongest foundation for deaf children to have the best start in life.

One thought on “Queensland MP David Gibson responds to Queenslander of tyhe Year Award – Taken from CODA Australia website.

  1. Deaf has never been deaf, but that is a cultural view not anyone else’s. We must expect the ‘system’ to continue playing the minority game for the sake of peace and quiet, but attribute to source whose ‘fault’ that is…

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