Deaf Community Australia Forum

Recently, we interviewed Shirley Liu about the Deaf Community Australia Forum to find out what they do.

What is the Deaf Community Australia Forum?
Deaf Community Australia Forum (DCAF) is a safe place where Deaf community members can discuss any topic or issues that are impacting them. It encourages people to identify the issues, discuss with other community members and work together to find a solution to the issues. We want to see more action as a result of this, rather than discussing the same issues for years to come. Everyone’s participation in this, including the people working behind the scenes is completely voluntary.

How did it start and what does the forum do?
In recent months, we have seen some critical concerns raised within the Deaf community in a variety of areas, such as Auslan - how do we use it properly, the ethics surrounding this and cultural appropriation. Other topics have included organisations that offer services to the deaf community, the lack of an advocacy presence, limited leadership and mentoring available as well as access to media and sign language interpreters.

We are at the start of this process, so it is all still very new - but we have started this with hosting a series of virtual forums, hosted by a facilitator. Technology is certainly amazing and allows anyone based anywhere to participate in the forums. The forums are currently a one-on-one chat, with some guided questions. At the end of those chats, the community members have an opportunity to ask the guest for their perspective on different topics or any questions they’d like answered.

The benefit of these forums is that it is a space that prompts and encourages discussion but also shows that there are varying perspectives on different topics.

Is there a team behind the scenes?
The DCAF forums could not happen without a team working hard behind the scenes. We are all volunteers that have given up time to ensure the success of these forums. We all are passionate about the Deaf community being an united front and becoming stronger, achieving goals together. We are a small team now but we are definitely looking to grow, keeping in mind that we ultimately want a team that varies in age, location, gender and race to ensure that we are truly reaching different parts of the Deaf community.

Who have been previous guests and what have they talked about?
Darlene Thornton (NSW): Darlene talked about Auslan as the language itself, language deprivation and cultural appropriation.

Rena Muscat (QLD): Rena focused on the lack of youth visibility in the community, limited leadership and role models and how she felt that there was not enough information about other community organisations within the Deaf community. 

Jessi Hartley (VIC) - Jessi discussed two topics: how to beat cultural appropriation and barriers with Deaf actions and how to become a part of the Deaf community using the published ‘criteria’.

Dylan Beasley (VIC): Dylan talked about what Auslan students learn in the classroom and how he believed that Deaf people should know the same information about their own language and the benefits of learning.

Can we watch previous videos and catch up?
There are videos available on our Facebook page or our YouTube channel. We have also ensured that we have gotten the forums transcribed for full access. You can use this link: https://linktr.ee/deafcommunityausforum.

How can Deaf and hard of hearing people get involved?
There are a few ways that Deaf and hard of hearing people can get involved. They can participate as a viewer, a guest or as a volunteer working behind the scenes. We always welcome any ideas, feedback or comments from the community. We would like this forum to be accessible, relevant and sustainable. At this stage, we are exploring our options for a variety of formats within the forum where people feel comfortable to share their opinions.

People can contact Deaf Community Australia Forum through Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct Messages or through email: deafcommunityaustraliaforum@gmail.com.

We appreciate all the support that we have received so far. Check out the hashtag #deafcommunityaustralia to see how DCAF started and some of the amazing talented people we have in our community.

Lastly, we would like to thank you all in the community for their support to make Deaf Community Australia Forum happen and be successful so far.

Thank you Shirley for taking the time to answer our questions.

You can find out more on their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/deafcommunityauforum

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