Time To Celebrate


Image is of a man, he is wearing a grey shirt with a bow tie. He is holding a glass of champagne in one hand and a bottle of champagne in the other. Glitter can be seen floating in the background. The man is cheering.

Happy Easter everyone. I know that some of The Rebuttal readers may not celebrate Easter. I am a confirmed agnostic. I have my mind open to all possibilities. That said my values are very Christian and I observe Easter. Even if I was a Christian, I would be welcoming all and sundry, faith or non faith, to celebrate with me. I would hope they would welcome me to observe religious times of significance with them too. It is this sort of respect and tolerance our world is sadly lacking.

I am actually quite excited to write this. Firstly, because I have set up my laptop so that I have three screens. What I am doing is writing this then translating it to Auslan when I finish. On one screen I have the blog which I am typing. On another I have camera set up so I can translate paragraph by paragraph. On a third I have Sign Bank to check signs that I don’t know because my Auslan is so lousy. Sadly, Sign Bank doesn’t have any signs for religions outside of the big three so I have had to resort to using “Different Religion” and Non Religion”.

But I digress, this Rebuttal is to celebrate. Because the Deaf community have had a win this week. It’s a win for both Deaf and hard of hearing people. It is a win that is long overdue. It has been nearly two decades in coming, but finally it is here. This may be a bit cheeky but I am going to claim some credit, along with my manager, for it happening. Just some.

In an Easter Miracle, the Federal Government has finally increased the Employment Assistant Fund for Auslan and captioning at work. For years it has stayed at $6 000 per year. For everyone, no matter what they worked as or where they lived. It was wonderful when introduced. But after nearly two decades that $6 000 has become horrendously inadequate. Two days ago we heard that it had been increased. In fact it has been doubled to $12 000. HOOOORAY!!!!

Now, why am I claiming some credit? Well, when I worked as a National Disability Coordination Officer, as I did over 14 years, I went to many a consultation about access to employment. Without fail I would always bring up the issue of EAF. In my current role as manager of a DES service I am in contact with the Government regularly and letting them know of the inadequacy of the old $6 000 Auslan for Employment. Myself and my manager have been quite vocal about it. I would like to think we played a small part in getting the increase.

I am sure there are others who have done the same. The old level was just ridiculous. I have said this before, but when I worked in the NDIS my interpreting bill, along with another deaf colleague, was $84 000. That was just for 9 months. I used both Auslan interpreters and live captioning. To be quite frank, the $6 000 was expounded in the first four weeks where it was spent on my induction training.

There are other professionals like me who have similarly high needs when it comes to communication access. I have always been lucky that my employer has been willing to foot the cost. Not so many other employers. Small business just cannot be expected to be able to wear the extraordinary high cost. They need assistance from the Government to be able to employ Deaf and hard of hearing people and meet that cost of communication access. The $6 000 just did not hack it.

Over in the UK, where my wife has just landed, they provide communication support at a much higher level. I am not sure how it works but I believe a Deaf or hard of hearing person can claim up to 53 000 pounds. (Sorry my keyboard doesn’t have the pound symbol) That’s $98 732 Australian. I think in the UK they work out the level dependent on your duties and employment level. Don’t quote me on that, but I would be interested to hear how they work it out over there.

If you compare the UK with Australia the new $12 000 looks pretty puny in comparison, doesn’t it? At this point in time, I don’t care. We need to celebrate our wins, because these wins are all to few and far apart.

So well done us on getting this increase. Well done all those people who, like me, took every opportunity to tell the Government that Auslan/captioning for employment needed to be improved. Getting it doubled is a tremendous achievement! Take a bow everyone!

That said, its still not enough. But that’s a fight that can start next week. Yay US!!!!!!!

Happy Easter everyone – And I mean everyone!!


One thought on “Time To Celebrate

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.