Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 29 October 2015) . . Page.. 3833 ..
DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (11.28): I am very pleased to support this motion today following its consideration by the Assembly Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure. As I have learned in my time here, it is customary practice to refer proposed or changes to the standing orders for committee consideration for good reason. The committee’s deliberations have made a valuable contribution to the fairness and equity of this measure. As well, we have ensured that the valuable, hard-earned and sophisticated skills of accredited Auslan interpreters are properly recognised and that Auslan interpreters are properly rewarded for their work. This is the third sitting day since this matter came to the Assembly in the previous sitting week. I am confident that all here would agree with me that this additional time to allow consideration by the committee has been very worthwhile. I commend the motion to the Assembly.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.29): Thank you for the opportunity to speak to this motion today. I am pleased to support this motion up-front—let me say that right from the start—because it is important to ensure that we do not reduce people’s capacity to engage in their workplace and their community by having barriers that prevent full engagement.
Our Greens policy states clearly that people should have full access, where necessary, to “appropriate facilities and support personnel in order for them to be able to undertake their chosen activities”. On top of that, the Greens are passionate about ensuring that our parliament is more accessible to everyone in our community, as our parliament should be fundamentally part of our community and representative of our community’s interest and concerns. It is the reason we moved the other motion listed under Assembly business today in regard to matters of public importance, which we will come to shortly.
Providing access to signing is something that is crucially important to people in the deaf community. Some 8,500 people in Australia use Auslan at home. It is the preferred language of the majority of people in Australia who have been severely or profoundly deaf since birth. It is an organically grown Australian version of signing that has grammar and vocabulary quite different from English and is therefore obviously quite different from signed English.
Historically in Australia there are some interesting facts to look at with this issue. It was first used in the Queensland parliament in 2006, which led to the use of Auslan during the Queensland floods in 2011. In June 2011 Auslan was first done in the Victorian parliament, and Julie Owens and Jane Prentice have delivered speeches in Auslan, in the federal and Queensland parliaments respectively, highlighting the role of Auslan in Australia.
So I am very pleased to support this motion today. I want to reflect on the fact that I regret not speaking when this motion first came up last month before it was sent to committee. I would like to explain to the Assembly the reason I did not do that. I understood that, like most matters concerning standing orders that come up for consideration, it was to be sent to the administration and procedure committee, which I am also on, and I understood we would have a discussion then about the practicalities of this implementation, as we do with other matters.