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Letter to the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP
Letter to the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP

10 March 2016

Hon. Malcolm Turnbull
Prime Minister of Australia
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600


Dear Prime Minister

I am writing to you in my capacity as CEO of the WA Deaf Society. Since 1921 the WA Deaf Society has been building and refining services to better meet the needs of the Deaf and wider community of WA. These services include Auslan (Australian Sign Language) interpreting and translation services, specialist employment services, specific support services and early intervention programs designed to meet the cultural and linguistic needs of families and individuals who identify as Deaf, deaf, hard of hearing and hearing.

WA Deaf Society has been extremely proud to support Drisana Levitzke-Gray in her role as the WA and National Young Australian of the Year 2015. The WA Deaf Society endorses Drisana's proposal to you (1 March 2016) requesting Australian Commonwealth Government support for improved early access to Auslan for deaf children. WA Deaf Society is proud to have originated, designed and piloted the Auslan for Families program.

WA Deaf Society acknowledges the concerns and issues raised by Drisana, in her proposal, and supports the requests for:

  1. Families to be provided with clear information on the important role that Auslan can and will play in their child's linguistic, cognitive, social and emotional development, including access to Deaf role models.
  2. Given the important role that Auslan will play in a deaf child's development, we support the right of every deaf child and their family to be provided with the means and opportunity to learn Auslan upon the birth/diagnosis of a deaf child.
  3. That Government funding be aligned to support families to learn Auslan, through programs such as the WA Deaf Society's Auslan for Families program and Language Early Acquisition Program (LEAP). That funding to include resources to allow coordination and reach to the families of all deaf children. Additional sufficient funding is to be made available to broaden the provision of Auslan training for families across Australia.

The current lack of information available to families of a deaf child and the very limited opportunity to have ready access promptly to appropriate Auslan early intervention services is having a very real, significant and detrimental effect on the lives of deaf children and their families. Your consideration to address these three issues will ensure a future for deaf children that is accessible, hopeful and equitable, enabling every deaf child to reach his or her full potential.

As the WA Deaf Society approaches its centenary year, it would be wonderful for our historical records to show that during your term of office, the Australian Government listened to and responded positively to the cries of the deaf children of Australia and their families.

Yours sincerely

 Mark Sig

Mark Gummer
Chief Executive Officer, WA Deaf Society

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