Media Release by The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP

Auslan interpreters booking service funded for further three years

Australians who are deaf will be able to continue booking Auslan interpreters to interpret for them at medical appointments following the selection of Wesley Mission Brisbane to deliver the National Auslan Interpreter Booking and Payment Service (NABS) for the next three years.

The Gillard Government is providing more than $17 million from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2016 to continue this critical national service.

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers Amanda Rishworth MP said the Gillard Government is committed to supporting the Australian Deaf community to access medical care with as much ease and convenience as possible, and welcomed the selection of Wesley Mission Brisbane to help support this vision.

“Attending a medical appointment is something that many of us don’t think twice about but the fact is there are many Australians who face barriers when doing so,” Ms Rishworth said.

“It is through initiatives like NABS that we can help ensure that people with disability have the same opportunities as other Australians to simply carry out the tasks of their daily lives.

“Wesley Mission Brisbane has done outstanding work over the past eight years to support the Australian Deaf community in providing this service.

“The organisation was selected following an open competitive selection process, and I welcome Wesley Mission Brisbane back for a further three years to continue delivering a high quality of service to the Australian Deaf community.”

NABS ensures access to accredited Auslan interpreters free-of-charge to communicate with their doctor or health professional, and by providing a central point of contact to book Auslan interpreters.

“This service is invaluable in the Australian Deaf community, ensuring that no deaf Auslan user is disadvantaged when attending a private medical appointment,” Ms Rishworth said.

“It is also supporting doctors and health professionals to effectively communicate with their patients who are deaf.

“We have received a lot of positive feedback about this fantastic service from clients, medical practitioners, and the estimated 600 interpreters across the country.

“The NABS is provided free for all private medical consultations that attract a Medicare rebate, as well as a range of other specific health care consultations, including physiotherapy. The role of the NABS is to provide a single point of contact to book accredited Auslan interpreters.”

Ms Rishworth said demand for the service continues to grow, with NABS currently now providing Auslan interpreters for around 20,000 appointments per year in metropolitan, regional and remote areas across Australia.

Since the NABS commenced in 2005, more than 120,000 Auslan interpreting services have been provided.