And my true love said to me
Come to Carols
Or I will divorce thee.
And so it began. My first trip to Vision Australia’s Carols By Candlelight since 1996. That was the year I met my wife to be. That year she was showing me the best of what Melbourne had to offer. Truth be known it was 34 degrees or something that night. I was sweaty and sticky. There was also no access through Auslan interpreters or captioning. It was a pretty awful night to be fair. I vowed never to go again. Although, ever since, my wife has forced me and the three lads to watch it on the telly virtually every year. From the comfort of my living room, with the air conditioner on and with captions, it is bearable.
But this year 2019. My wife and I have begun the modern trend known as, Living Together Apart. I have accepted a job in Adelaide and we agreed that opportunities for work are few and far between. As we have a house in Adelaide, and always planned to live there eventually, we both agreed it was prudent to accept it. My kids are older now and very independent. So my job is to get the home established in Adelaide so its ready for the Missus to move in when she tires of the hustle and bustle of Melbourne.
So I had been away for a couple of weeks. I was back in Car City to spend Xmas with the family. Naturally Carols was a nice way to spend Christmas Eve. Even so I sort of excitedly / reluctantly accepted. Finlay, the middle child nudging 21, joined us too. He thought Mum was going alone so put his hand up to take the bullet and attend with her. Little did he know that I was going too. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
So anyway, we arrived early hoping for a good seat. There were hugs all round with Deafies and interpreters. Carols isn’t something you attend for the luxury. You sit on the grass, get bitten by ants. If you are a little allergic to grass you itch a lot. If you are 55 with arthritis, like me, getting up and down hurts. I fell over once trying to get up and nearly flattened some poor Deaf guy. But no matter I survived
The Auslan interpreters had been placed in a kind of cement court yard with a massive pylon in it. The problem was that the pylon obscured everything. You could see the interpreters but not the stage. What you could see of the stage wasn’t worth seeing. No matter, I thought, I’ll watch the big screen. Unfortunately the big screen was behind me. If I watched that I couldn’t see the interpreters. It was unfortunate but I comforted myself with the knowledge I had saved my marriage and I was among good company.
So for three hours I actually had fun. I had some laughs, I avoided killing the bloke when I fell over. My wife fell over too. I laughed a little too hard, but hey she teased me mercilessly when I fell down.
So wife, son and I walked back to the tram stop. I mentioned to my wife that perhaps we needed to educate Vision Australia about placement of interpreters and the like. After all, I reasoned, we are paying good money to attend ($77 a ticket) We should get at least good quality vision of the stage for that. And then she told me. Apparently Vision Australia had refused to provide any Auslan Interpreters and three Deaf people combined their NDIS funds so that they could get access.
I was livid. You see on their Facebook page for Carols by Candlelight, Vision Australia had claimed the interpreters as their own. You don’t believe me? Look at this ..
Yes indeed! After three Deaf people had pooled their NDIS funds, while at the same time encouraging other deaf people to attend so that others could benefit from some access, Vision Australia had the audacity to make it seem like THEY were responsible for the access. I was and am appalled.
This is an organisation that raises around $26 million a year through fundraising. A lot of that comes from Carols By Candlelight. The shit view that I got cost $77. They then flog candles to you at $5 a pop. I’m sure the food stalls pay a premium to set up there too. AND the performers, the brilliant performers, give their time free. Not to mention Channel Nine who probably pay a fair price to televise because Carols is always a top rating event. Truth be known, even though they tried to make it look otherwise, Vision Australia paid not one cent towards the interpreting costs. NOT ONE!
And where was the access for hard of hearing. No captions on the screen. Where was the access for Deafblind. This huge and wealthy organisation could not be arsed to provide proper access to these groups. This huge organisation that makes a pretty penny from the NDIS as well, would not provide Auslan interpreters. This meant three big hearted Deaf people combined their limited NDIS funds to provide access for as many Deaf people as they could. Words can not do justice to how I feel about this.
So next year, boycott Candles – Unless Vision Australia reimburse the Deafies that used their NDIS funds to attend. Boycott Carols until Vision Australia practice what they preach and make a world and this event inclusive for all.
Shame on you Vision Australia. You earn the Scrooge of Xmas Award. I hope that you are suitably ashamed.
Footnote … For the record … Vision Australia Facebook page indicates that profits from the night were $851 519. …