NSW Premier Dom Perrottet‘s office has now issued a statement explaining why Auslan interpreters have been missing from the last few NSW COVID-19 press conferences.
According to a spokesperson for Perrottet, the interpreters in previous pressers were organised by NSW Health. But now that the department is no longer part of those press conferences, there is no one booking Auslan interpreters.
“As NSW returns to a more normal setting and emerges from COVID-19 there will be a range of media events some of which may include the services of Auslan interpreters and some of which may not,” a statement read.
“NSW Health has worked closely throughout the pandemic with the Deaf Society which has provided Auslan interpreters at health-content-led press conferences and at the livestreaming of NSW Health social media messages.”
The decision to leave Auslan interpreters out of COVID-19 press conferences has angered the Deaf community as well as human rights organisations.
“This is very disappointing as Deaf and hard of hearing people living in Sydney (and the rest of NSW) deserve to access COVID-19 information in Auslan, particularly with COVID-19 restrictions changing from today,” Sherrie Beaver, a Deaf Auslan user in Melbourne said in a Twitter thread.
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights also said there was “significant concern” over the decision.
“Article 21 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) enshrines the human right for the provision of information intended for the general public to be in accessible formats, including through the use of sign language,” Natalie Wade, the committee’s Vice President and Disability Rights Subcommittee Chair said.
It shouldn’t be up to NSW Health to ensure that the hearing-impaired stay informed on public health issues. The NSW Government should be doing it themselves.
Not good enough.