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Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

First National Study into Auslan Interpreting Services

The first national study examining the supply and demand of Auslan interpreting services released today by the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, found Auslan interpreters were rated highly by deaf Auslan users.

Senator Patterson said Supply and Demand for Auslan Interpreters across Australia, an independent study, shows that the respondents were mostly satisfied that they could get an Auslan interpreter when needed.

“The survey indicated that professional Auslan interpreters were rated highly by deaf Auslan users in the quality of the service they provide,” Senator Patterson said.

“Around 87 per cent of deaf Auslan users surveyed had used a professional Auslan interpreter at least once in the last 12 months.

“The study identified around 300 active Auslan interpreters across Australia. Around 260 of these interpreters are accredited by the National Authority for Accreditation of Translators and Interpreters.”

Senator Patterson said that many deaf Auslan users rely on Auslan interpreters in their day-to-day interactions with hearing people. However, to date there has been little information available to determine whether Auslan interpreting services are able to meet demand.

“The study showed that there are some areas where improvement is required to meet the needs of deaf people better. For instance, interpreting assistance for appointments with doctors is a particular area where attention may be warranted,” Senator Patterson said.

“The Australian Government will be carefully considering the study findings, especially the issues raised about access to services, and will respond in due course.

“This is an issue for all governments in Australia to consider and I call on my state and territory colleagues to examine the study.

“The findings will be a valuable resource for the government, the deafness sector and the wider community.

“People with disabilities often face many barriers when trying to participate in the community. It is vital that there are adequate services for people with disabilities to ensure that they can participate in community life and achieve their goals,” Senator Patterson said.

The study was conducted with extensive consultation with key stakeholders in the deafness sector, Auslan interpreters and interpreting agencies, families of deaf Auslan users and a national written survey of deaf Auslan users.

“I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the study,” Senator Patterson said.

The report is available on the Department of Family and Community Services’ website or by contacting the department on 1300 653 227 (toll free) or TTY 1800 260 402.