The Abbott Government's systematic attack on services for people with hearing impairments is continuing unabated and draws into question the Government's commitment to helping people with disabilities.
I visited the Australian Hearing Hub at Macquarie University last week with Shadow Minister for Human Services, Senator Doug Cameron. We went to hear first-hand the challenges facing deaf and hard of hearing Australians and the great work organisations based at the hearing hub have been doing to assist these people.
People with hearing impairments make outstanding contributions to Australian life. Just this week Drisana Levitzke-Gray, who is deaf, was announced as the Young Australian of the Year for her work advocating for the rights of deaf children.
Unfortunately, while advocates like Drisana are doing the hard yards, the Abbott Government has been systematically attacking services for deaf Australians.
So far attacks on deaf and hard of hearing Australians have included:
- Putting at risk the future of Australian Hearing and the National Acoustics Laboratories and the vital services this organisation provides for the sake of an ideological obsession with privatisation.
- Cutting government funding for Deaf Australia and Deafness Forum of Australia, the peak organisations that represent Australians with hearing impairments.
- Cuts to the Disability Support Pension which will affect hundreds of thousands of Australians living with disability, including deaf and hard of hearing Australians.
- Walking away from their promise to fully implement the Gonski measures to better assist students with disabilities, and have cut Labor’s, More Support for Children with Disability program. Cuts to education disproportionately affect children with hearing impairments and more than 12,000 children in Australia have a significant hearing impairment.
- Proposing to scrap regulations around captioning of TV which are designed to ensure TV content is accessible for deaf and hard of hearing Australians.
People with hearing impairments deserve better.
The Abbott Government's cruel attacks on hearing care services will only create barriers to people with hearing impairments participating fully in our community.
Labor will continue to fight these attacks to ensure deaf and hard of hearing Australians get access to the services they need.