The Victorian government has allocated $4 million to make Auslan interpretation classes fee-free, as part of its Free TAFE policy introduced in 2019.
The move, which is part of the state’s 2022/2023 budget, sees a foundational diploma course offered at Melbourne Polytechnic and an advanced diploma offered at RMIT. The latter is the recognised qualification to become a certified Auslan interpreter
“Today’s announcement will go a long way to satisfying the increasing demand for Auslan interpreters, directly help students train in meaningful careers, and provide a pathway to high-demand industries,” RMIT vice-chancellor and president Alec Cameron said.
Auslan (Australian sign language) is the sign language used by Australia’s deaf community. According to the 2016 Census, there are 11,682 Auslan users in the country.
According to Deaf Victoria, the language is different to English in its grammar, syntax and vocabulary, using the whole body to convey meaning and sentiment.
The number of Auslan interpreters at the daily COVID press conferences was a subject of controversy last year, with the NSW government criticised for not having an Auslan interpreter last October, as reported by SBS.
“Our new Free TAFE courses in Auslan will meet the specific language and cultural needs of this group of students, broadening access to education and employment opportunities,” minister for disability, ageing and carers Anthony Carbines said.
Victorian minister for training and skills Gayle Tierney also welcomed the news, stating it was an important step in creating a more inclusive state.
The Free TAFE policy includes over 60 courses.