Wednesday, 19 October 2016

New resource for access to Auslan in hospitals

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission today launched Signs for Health, an online resource to help deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind patients better access the health care they need and have a right to under law.

Commissioner Kristen Hilton said all hospital patients have the right to be informed about services and treatment options available to them.

"We undertook this work because we heard stories of people who have not received the communication adjustments they require in some instances in some hospitals," Ms Hilton said.

"We worked with VicDeaf and Deaf Victoria, as well as the Department of Health and Human Services, Bendigo Health and the Royal Women’s Hospital to create a resource that will assist both patients and staff."

Failing to provide Auslan interpreters and other communication supports may be against the law under Victoria's Equal Opportunity Act 2010. Public hospitals also have obligations under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.

Ms Hilton said Signs for Health also provides hospital staff with information about their obligations to provide communications assistance to all patients.

"There are many examples of good practice and a genuine commitment from many hospital staff to ensure all patients get equal access to health services.

"However, through the Commission’s Disability Reference Group and the Deaf Victoria Inquiry into access to Auslan interpreters in hospitals report we also heard of instances where some patients did not receive the assistance they require," Ms Hilton said.

These stories include:

  • a man who woke up from emergency surgery and didn’t know what had happened.
  • a woman who was kept under anesthesia for longer than necessary while an interpreter was located.
  • a man who was in hospital for six days, repeatedly requesting an interpreter, in fact watching an ad on his TV screen in his room telling him to ask for an interpreter, to no avail.

Visit signsforhealth.com.au for more information.

Watch a video of speeches from the launch of Signs for Health (with Auslan interpreter).

Commission media contact

Megan Breen
Phone: (03) 9032 3449
Mobile: 0417 449 420