Please note that there is a factual error in this article. It was mistakenly stated that Ms Curran was an apology for the AFDS meeting. This may not in fact be the case as the meeting is on 16th August. Apologies to Ms Curran for this error.
Last week on Facebook there was an old photo from a school for the deaf in England. It was an old, haunting black and white photo. In the photo there were a group of deaf children in a huge communal bath. The bath was apparently full of freezing water. Even though it was a still photo, the children’s discomfort was obvious. All of them were hugging their shoulders to generate what little warmth they could. Apparently back in the old days the practice was to make deaf kids speak orally at all cost. The kids had to remain in the freezing water until they spoke in a way that the teachers deemed was correct. If they did not, they had to remain in the water. If they spoke well, they could get out.
It reminded me again of how Deaf people and the Deaf communities have been oppressed over the years. Systematically Deaf people and the Deaf community have been forced to endure a host of injustices. Deaf kids at school have been rapped over the knuckles for signing. In class they have been made to sit on their hands so that they would not be tempted to sign. Even though learning speech was hindering the overall language development of young deaf kids, they were forced to spend hours while teachers covered their mouths and tried to make them comprehend just one word.
If they have not been abused at school, the Deaf community have had their language, sign language, oppressed. Either they have been forced to speak even though sign language was far more natural to learn, or they have had their beautiful sign language bastardised. First it was cued speech and then it was Signed English. Through all of this oppression the Deaf community have endured and thrived.
To this day the oppression of Deaf people continues. It is happening right before our very eyes in South Australia. The spiritual and cultural home of the South Australian Deaf Community has been stolen from them. I don’t use the word – stolen- lightly. But how else can an organization like Townsend House stand to profit $3 to $4 million dollars from a building that they paid not a cent for? Pure and simple, it is daylight robbery.
The heart of the South Australian Deaf Community is breaking as the day comes closer for 262 to be sold. They are fighting to the bitter end to save the building that was built with the blood, sweat and tears of many of their Deaf forbearers. Every day, around the clock, members of the Deaf community are holding a candlelight vigil to show just what 262 means to them. They are crying out to politicians for help but all to no avail. “It’s a commercial decision”, say the politicians, “There is nothing that we can do.”
And while the South Australian Deaf community is frantically trying to save their home, where are the senior management of Townsend House? Are they talking with the Deaf Community? Are they trying to find a way to save 262 in the face of a very clear message from the South Australian Deaf Community? Are they visiting the dedicated members who are taking part in the vigil to talk with them and understand their viewpoint? Are they showing respect or even remorse for the obvious pain and heartache that they are causing this proud community?
NO! Do you want to know where the senior management of Townsend House are? Do you want to know what the senior management are doing? The very same senior management that will have us believe that the financial situation of Townsend House is so dour that the 262 building must be sold are doing what? Well I can confirm that most of them are in Sydney on a very, very expensive junket. How? There is no money. Or at least this is what they want us to believe.
I was told that Judy Curran has informed the Australian Federation of Deaf Societies that she will be an apology for their meeting this week. It is in Perth I believe. Why? She cannot attend because she is attending a business conference in Sydney. Not only that but several of her senior management colleagues are attending with her.
I can confirm that Ms. Curran and six members of the senior management team have flown to Sydney. I can confirm that at least four have been registered to attend the Challenge Business Thought Conference organized by the Australian Business Congress. Another two are in Sydney but it cannot be confirmed that they are attending the conference too.
It is not a cheap conference either. I am assuming that Townsend House is a paying member of the Australian Business Congress and purchased the early bird registration. I am assuming that they purchased the group package to save money. I am assuming they are a member of the Australian Business Congress. If this is indeed the case, they would be paying $1233 per person to attend the conference. If they did not purchase the group package they would be paying $1850 per person.
At a minimum Townsend House are paying $4932 for four people to attend the conference. One assumes that if all six have gone to Sydney, then all are there to attend the conference. If this is the case, Townsend House has coughed up $7398 for their senior management team to attend the conference.
Of course they would also have had to pay airfares. Lets assume it is $350 return for a plane ticket. That is a further $2100. The conference has accommodation providers that are offering discounts for paying attendees. The most expensive is $360 a night whilst the cheapest is $165. Lets assume Townsend House have been prudent and have chosen the cheapest accommodation. This is $165 a person for one night. We will assume it is only one night because the conference is for two days. That’s a further $990. Then there are meals, probably $50 a day. That’s a further $300. Taxi fares to and from the airport? This is probably another $300 to ferry all six there and back.
So all up to send senior management to this conference Townsend House has probably coughed up, for a two day conference, $11 088 – give or take a few dollars. This is from an organization that is in so much financial strife that they have to sell a building that they paid not a cent for. Meanwhile on a cold Wednesday night a community is holding a candlelight vigil to save their home, sipping bad coffee and snuggling up together for warmth.
The Townsend House senior management, what are they doing? Most likely sipping fine red wine and eating at a nice restaurant. Not bad when one considers that they are managing an organization in such financial strife is it?
Quite simply it is a disgrace. They should all hang their heads in shame! Oppression of the Deaf community is alive and well thank you very much!