Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Enhanced access to Auslan Interpreting Services

Deaf Australians will have better access to Auslan interpreters with $18.4 million committed over four years to establish a central unit to book and pay for accredited Auslan interpreters.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson said deaf people, doctors and health professionals who require Auslan interpreters for specified private medical or health consultations will be able to contact the central unit.

Senator Patterson said that many deaf Auslan users rely on interpreters in their day-to-day interactions with hearing people and this new service will help reduce the risks of miscommunication between doctors and their patients.

“Around 6,500 deaf people will benefit from this service which will be implemented from 1 January 2005,” Senator Patterson said.

“A recent national study that was commissioned by the Australian Government showed that while deaf Auslan users were mostly satisfied that they could get an Auslan interpreter when needed, two thirds of deaf Auslan users who required an interpreter at private medical and health consultations were not always successful in accessing an interpreter.

“This new national Auslan interpreter booking service will help address this gap by providing access to Auslan interpreters free of charge for specified private medical and health consultations.

“Accredited Auslan interpreters play a great role in assisting communication between deaf and hearing people. This initiative will make services more accessible for deaf Auslan users and enhance their independence.

“People with disabilities often face many barriers when they try to participate in the community which is why it is important that there are adequate services that they can access to participate in community life and to achieve and maintain their rights as citizens.”