Kelly in the Media

Kelly Vincent – Vision Australia Interview on Emergency Management Reform

Richard Morgan: Time to welcome to 5RPH Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent; Hi Kelly.

Kelly Vincent: Hi Richard, how are you going?

Richard Morgan: Yeah, good thank you. Now Kelly, I understand Dignity for Disability’s introduced a Private Member’s Bill to Parliament last week; what issue or concern lead to the Bill being drafted and is it amending a current Act of Parliament?

Kelly Vincent: Yes, it is. We’re amending, or looking to amend, the Emergency Management Act for South Australia to ensure that Auslan, Australian Sign Language, interpretation is used on TV broadcasts relating to information relevant to an emergency situation like a bushfire or a flood, and there certainly was a triggering issue, if you like, where during the Sampson Flat bushfires in January, the first broadcast that the Government gives to relay information about that situation did not have Auslan interpreters present to interpret that information for people who might be Deaf, and so we think we need to ensure that there is consistency, where it’s not up to someone to raise this as a problem once it doesn’t happen, but to ensure that there’s consistency and that people know ahead of time that it’s part of the State Emergency Management Plan that Auslan interpreters need to be present for the broadcast of TV information relevant to emergencies.

Richard Morgan: Now, what does your Bill change about the Emergency Management Act?

Kelly Vincent: Well there is one primary objective of the Bill, that is pretty simple, and look, as I said that’s to enshrine a legislative requirement for an accredited Auslan interpreter, or interpreters where relevant, to be present and working during a television broadcast about emergency situations like a bushfire or flood or another natural disaster. This is to assist people who are Deaf, and we also believe Open Captioning should be another issue, that’s important to make this information accessible to people with hearing related needs, this is not necessarily captured by the Bill, but we want to discuss that further to ensure that captioning is available to help assist everyone to understand what is going on and to have the information they need to make decisions and stay safe in an emergency. But we have decided to move forward with what I guess you might call the Auslan component of this campaign first because it’s a pretty simple legislative amendment to make, so we put this Bill forward to Parliament with the hope of starting that discussion and we’ll see where that gets us.

Richard Morgan: Now Kelly, any other concerns outside of the legislation surrounding emergency management issues?

Kelly Vincent: Funnily enough, yes, Richard. We certainly do have other concerns. At the community consultation meeting that we held about these issues there was a wide spread of groups, individuals, and organisations represented there, and our talks with people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, as well as elderly people, people with intellectual disabilities, autism, and physical disability to name a few, as well as the Deaf community, have demonstrated multiple issues. One potential solution that was raised to us was the potential need for a database where people working in emergency services can easily access someone’s information if they do have extra access requirements or assistance requirements, whether that be someone might need an interpreter, either because English is their second language, or they’re Deaf, so Auslan is their first language, or they might need some physical assistance, or another method. So we’re looking at how best to build a database to ensure that information is available from the get-go, rather than emergency services personnel rocking up at someone’s house to find that they need something that they don’t have with them. So that’s only one issue, there are lots of other issues around the use of technology, and how to include older Australians in that as well, who might not necessarily use things like the internet and smartphones and social media every day, so there are lots of ongoing issues as well, on top of the need for Auslan and captioning to help people who are Deaf or hard of hearing to understand this information, and we’ll certainly continue to work on those issues and keep you in the loop.

Richard Morgan: Well let’s hope those issues are sorted out very quickly.

Kelly Vincent: Absolutely, I’m sure I’ll have more to report to you very soon, Richard.

Richard Morgan: Good to talk with you, Kelly.

Kelly Vincent: You too, Richard; thanks very much.

Richard Morgan: Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent