We are proud to present our achievements for 2016. Over the last year, we have focused on five key strategies.
1. Improve and expand services for deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing people.
We have worked to develop the community’s awareness of our employment service through a range of marketing strategies. This has led to an increase in deaf and hard of hearing people joining our employment service in Parramatta, Wollongong and Gosford. We have seen an increase in sustainable job placements in the Central Coast region due to the commitment of staff in providing exceptional customer service to job seekers and employers.
In the last year, we also an increase in the number of smoke alarm installations for deaf and hard of hearing people under the Smoke Alarm Subsidy Scheme. A total of 333 tactile smoke alarms were installed.
We also provided over 15,000 hours of Auslan interpreting which is a significant increase compared to last year.
2. Create opportunities in the workforce
Thanks to funding from the Champions of the West program, we were able to deliver a voluntary internship program. The program supported four deaf people to gain valuable work experience at the Deaf Society.
In April, we welcomed three high school students for a week of work experience and a deaf adult for a month of work experience. The program was not only an opportunity to gain skills but also to learn about best practice in a deaf workplace. They are now better equipped to self-advocate for communication access and assistive equipment in their future workplaces.
3. Build community capacity
In 2016, we delivered two significant community capacity building projects; the Get Ready Project and NDIS Information Sessions.
The focus of the Get Ready project was preparing the Deaf Community for natural disasters like fire, flood and storms. In partnership with NSW State Emergency Service (SES), Fire & Rescue NSW, NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS), Red Cross, University of Sydney and the Deaf Community we were able to deliver some fantastic outcomes;
- Recruitment and training of nine volunteer Deaf Liaison Officers (DLOs) who act as champions and leaders within their communities and bridge the gap between deaf people and emergency services in emergency preparedness.
- The delivery of DAT to emergency services personnel placed deaf cultural knowledge in emergency services
- Development of seven Auslan videos about emergency preparedness for the community to use in future workshops
- The DLOs delivered 10 emergency preparedness workshops to their local communities.
In 2016, we also hosted 13 workshops on the NDIS to prepare the deaf community for this significant change in funding and supports. Close to 400 people attended the information sessions. We have also supported dozens of people to plan and prepare for their first meeting with an NDIA planner.
4. Build a customer-centred Deaf Society
This year we embarked on an organisation change to ensure that we are more customer-focused. To improve the customer’s experience, we created two new teams; the Support Coordination Team and the Customer Service Team.
The Support Coordination Team is responsible for supporting customers to identify their goals and the supports they need to achieve those goals. This includes supporting people to access and prepare for the NDIS. The response from customers has been positive. They have expressed that they now have a better understanding of the supports and services available which can improve their access and community participation.
The Customer Service Team is responsible for responding to enquiries and requests such as booking interpreters, enrolling students and assigning support workers. The establishment of the new team has meant that we now have full time staffing of the interpreter bookings function which has led to increased staff satisfaction and therefore more satisfied customers.
5. Strengthen partnerships and support other agencies
In the past year, we have continued to develop relationships to the benefit of the Deaf Community. For example;
- Becoming a partner of the Break the Sound Barrier campaign which aims to put the health and well-being of deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing people on the national political agenda.
- Working with Australian Hearing to increase the reach of our Smoke Alarm Subsidy Scheme in regional areas and with hard of hearing people.
- Working with Able Australia to increase awareness and understanding of deafblindness among our staff.
- Working with Deaf Sports Australia to re-establish the NSW Deaf Sports Committee
We’ve had a busy year but we are looking forward to 2017 and continuing to support deaf, deafblind, had of hearing people and their families. Thank you for your support in helping us achieve our goals.