COVID-19 Outreach Project
Funded by Disability Outreach Program (COVID-19), Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.
Deaf and hard of hearing Victorians experienced numerous barriers during the COVID-19 pandemic such as:
- Working from home: loss of incidental face to face discussions; small group meetings; larger departmental or other office-like interactions has caused hardship for deaf and hard of hearing people who have had to explore technology solutions in an attempt to obtain equal access.
- Unemployment: increased barriers to obtaining employment due to oversupply of unemployed people in relation to available jobs; information about income support measures for individuals and business owners is not translated into Auslan.
- Wearing of masks: wearing of masks restricts the engagement and interaction of deaf and hard of hearing people in accessing goods and services, including health, education, and training settings. There is fear, misinformation, and unwillingness by both deaf and hearing people to removing masks for essential communication.
- Increased supports needed to assist deaf and hard of hearing people with mental health issues and experiencing family violence: anecdotal evidence suggests that the frustration and anger caused through lack of social connection, communication challenges is causing breakdown within the family home. Family violence and mental health practitioners do not have practical strategies to manage these situations.
The COVID-19 Information and Outreach Service will support Deaf and hard of hearing Victorians during recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deaf and hard of hearing people are represented across all diverse and hard to reach groups including LGBTQIA+, Indigenous, senior citizens, regional/remote and socioeconomic cohorts.
- Provide a localised deaf peer support and information service, including provision of digital education and support to assist deaf and hard of hearing people to respond, recover and adapt to COVID-19.
- Design, develop and promote an online cultural competency education program to enable individuals, businesses, and employers to respond, recover and adapt by ensuring establishment of deaf inclusive practices.
Project Advisory Group:
Maxine Buxton, Deaf Victoria (Chair)
Sherrie Beaver, Deaf Victoria (Project and Research Coordinator)
Stef Linder, Expression Australia
Caitlin Barr, Soundfair
Carmel Phillips, John Pierce Centre
Elise Stewart, Deaf Hub Bendigo