Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Supporting deaf Auslan users

Deaf Auslan users across Australia can now access a national booking service, which will provide Auslan interpreted access to medical and health consultation, free of charge.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today officially launched the new National Auslan Interpreter Booking and Payment Service (NABS). The Howard Government has provided $18.4 million over four years to Wesley Mission to operate the service.

“This important new service will give deaf people, doctors and health professionals in all states and territories a single point of contact in order to access accredited Auslan interpreters free of charge for specified medical and health consultations,” Senator Patterson said.

“The service will include consultations provided in private medical practices which are Medicare rebateable and by specified health professionals.

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

Following a competitive selection process, Wesley Mission Brisbane has been selected to establish and deliver the new service.

Wesley Mission Brisbane’s services include youth and family support, employment support under the current job network system, support services to the Indigenous community and aged care.

Auslan is the predominant language of the Australian deaf community. It involves hand shapes and movements, and facial expression and orientation, and has its own syntax, grammar and semantics. It is not based on English.

Under this measure NABS will book and pay for interpreting services for both deaf adults and children. The service will accommodate situations where a deaf adult and hearing child, or hearing parent and deaf child attend a private medical consultation.

“Introduction of the new service will mean that deaf Auslan users will not need to worry about who will pay the cost of an Auslan interpreter when they attend medical consultations,” Senator Patterson said.

NABS can be contacted by 1800 24 69 45, TTY 1800 24 69 48 between 8am – 8pm (Monday – Friday) except on national public holidays. For more information go to NABS website (