The native language of the Deaf community of Australia is Australian Sign Language, otherwise commonly known as Auslan. Auslan was coined by Trevor Johnston in the early 1980s. The language itself is much older, and can be dated back to the late 1790s.
Auslan is not based on English, as it has a different set of rules for grammar and syntax. Its vocabulary is also different to English. Auslan is a natural language which was developed organically over time.
It is also a visual-spatial language where hands, eye gaze, facial expressions and arm, head and body postures are used to convey messages. Precise handshapes, facial expressions and body movements are needed to convey both concrete and abstract information.
Auslan was recognised as a community language other than English and the preferred language of the Australian deaf community by the Australian Government. This was reflected in policy statements released by the Government in 1987 and 1991.
Auslan is also recognised as a community language by the Victorian Government in their Language Services Policy.
To learn more about Auslan, check out DeafNav.
DeafNav also has information about where you can learn Auslan.