Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has issued a letter to NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet following the removal of Auslan interpreters at recent state health conferences.
The legal body said it was concerned to see a lack of interpreters at press conferences held by the NSW government on 10 and 11 October 2021, noting the risk it puts to the disability community.
“We were alarmed that the press conferences delivered by the NSW Premier, and experts such as Dr Jeremy McAnulty, director, Health Protection, NSW Health had no visible Auslan interpreter,” read the letter addressed to Mr Perrottet, signed by ALHR president Kerry Weste and vice president and disability rights subcommittee chair Natalie Wade.
“As you would be aware, Australia is party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Article 21 of the CRPD requires that information intended for the public be provided in an accessible format.”
The pair continued: “It is an accepted practice to provide Auslan interpretation at all emergency management press conferences to ensure the information provided can be received by the disability community.
“This practice upholds the obligation pursuant to article 21 of the CRPD. Failure to do so, as your government did on 10 and 11 October 2021, places people with disabilities at risk of not receiving the vital information shared and violates their human rights.”
In conclusion, Ms Weste and Ms Wade urged the premier to reinstate the use of Auslan interpreters at all COVID-19 press conferences immediately “in accordance with your obligations under the CRPD”.
“We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter with you.”