Melbourne Auslan in the City Project

Melbourne Auslan in the City Project

Funded by Melbourne in the City’s Social Innovation Partnerships Programme.

Project Background

  • To increase the capacity of the wider community within City of Melbourne, by increasing awareness of Auslan and equipping City of Melbourne residents, workers, students, and visitors with basic Auslan phrases
  • To increase the number of people entering accredited and non-accredited pathways for learning Auslan
  • To increase inclusion and access for Deaf and hard of hearing people in City of Melbourne
  • To celebrate and appreciate Auslan, and City of Melbourne’s status as a hub for the Deaf community

The project has several outcomes, including:

  • Community members including retail workers, hospitality staff and service providers in City of Melbourne will be more confident and able to communicate with Deaf people
  • Inclusion for Deaf people will be increased in City of Melbourne, as there will be a greater number of people who are aware of the Deaf community and are equipped with simple phrases to enable communication with Deaf people
  • A greater number of people entering accredited and non-accredited Auslan training pathways at Expression Australia and Melbourne Polytechnic
  • The people entering Auslan training pathways will potentially explore careers in the Deaf community, such as working as Auslan interpreters, or working for service providers. Opportunities such as these are rapidly growing as more Deaf people become NDIS participants and receive funding for supports. 
  • Five Auslan learning videos of 30 seconds each, featuring sport stars and household names signing simple phrases
  • Four free taster Auslan workshops delivered within City of Melbourne
  • Four Teams of roving Auslan teachers to attend Four major sports & arts events in City of Melbourne
  • Creation of web pages embedded in relevant and appropriate sites featuring the Auslan learning videos and information about accredited and non-accredited pathways for learning Auslan.

Auslan (Australian Sign Language) is the language of Australia’s Deaf community and is a recognised community language and is unique to Australia. The 2016 census recorded Melbourne as having the greatest growth in the number of Auslan users across the city. Auslan is rapidly growing in popularity, recently becoming the fifth most taught language of the 51 languages taught in in Victorian schools

Australia lags behind other countries in terms of access for Deaf and hard of hearing people, and the visibility of Auslan as one of Australia’s many community languages. As Auslan becomes more prominent through the broadcasting of Auslan interpreters on national television in response to the recent bushfire and the current COVID-19 pandemic, there has never been a better time to capitalise on the publicity and broader community’s interest in Auslan.

It is time to ensure that the broader community can celebrate and acknowledge Auslan as a language unique to Australia and an integral part of Australia’s history.

Community Consultation:

In December 2020, we held a community consultation for members of the deaf and hard of hearing community. The purpose was to collect data on preferred Auslan phrases, locations for screening of Auslan learning videos and what they wanted to see happen out of the project. Following on from the community consultation, we did a follow-up survey based on the data collected.