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Auslan intensives run for Melbourne University students

19 Dec 2014

A recent program run by deafconnectED, a strategic centre auspiced by Melbourne Polytechnic, has shown a growing interest in Auslan amid a critical shortage of Auslan interpreters in Victoria.

Auslan (Australian Sign Language) is the language of the Deaf community in Australia and is used by friends, family, co-workers and professionals that interact with members of this community on a daily basis. It is not a straight ‘translation’ of spoken language into signs; rather, it’s a language in its own right, a visual form of communication that combines hand shapes, facial expressions, gestures and movement of hands, arms or body to express the complexity and nuances of spoken language.

Earlier this year, deafConnectED was asked by the University of Melbourne to develop and run a one-week intensive Auslan course for the university's students. 

Students at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education can do an elective called "Deafness and Communication", which looks at the impact of deafness on communication, literacy, social development, access and equity, and considers how technology impacts the lives of deaf people.

It became clear that there was a strong demand from people wanting to go to the next stage and learn Auslan, so the university partnered with deafConnectED and Melbourne Polytechnic to design and deliver a one-week intensive training course that would immerse students who were taught by deaf teachers.

In July, a staggering 180 students from across a diverse range of disciplines including Arts, Linguistics, Science and Medicine signed on and completed a week long Auslan intensive, taught by Melbourne Polytechnic's Auslan teachers.

"Visions", the video magazine produced by the University of Melbourne, has just published a story about the Auslan intensive program, which you can view here.

“There are many reasons why people choose to study Auslan,” said Cathy Clark, Centre Manager and Contract Director, deafConnectED. “They might have a deaf child in the family, teach deaf children in school, want to become an Auslan interpreter, or work in a professional capacity in the community. Sometimes it’s as simple as wanting to learn an interesting new language.”

Special projects, such as the University of Melbourne collaboration, help to promote the role of Auslan in teaching members of the general community to communicate and engage with members of the deaf community. This promotes social inclusion and engagement for deaf people who can experience barriers in accessing education, employment and other mainstream services.

deafconnectED is part of the Victorian Auslan Training Consortium (VATC), which was awarded a three-year contract in January 2014 by the Victorian Higher Education and Skills Group (HSEG) to support the inclusion and participation of deaf and hard of hearing students in the Vocational Education and Training Sector (VET). This is achieved through programs that enhance and extend the teaching of Auslan in Victoria.  Other consortium members include Melbourne Polytechnic, Vicdeaf and La Trobe University

The VATC has been trialling an exciting new blended delivery model that comprises online and video conferencing equipment to take Auslan training into regional areas of Victoria.

“The VATC wants to provide flexible delivery options to a wider range of students in Victoria,” said Ms Clark, “as well as reducing barriers for families with deaf children, deaf adults deafened later in life, or those who aspire to a career as an Auslan interpreter.”

Melbourne Polytechnic (incorporating deafConnectED), delivers a Certificate II, Certificate III, Certificate IV and Diploma in Auslan at its Collingwood campus.

For information about Melbourne Polytechnic’s Auslan courses, call 03 9269 1200 or visit


Media enquiries should be directed to Melbourne Polytechnic Communications Officer, Anita Coia, on 03 9269 1251 or ua.ud1477628989e.cin1477628989hcety1477628989lopen1477628989ruobl1477628989em@ai1477628989ocati1477628989na1477628989

Melbourne Polytechnic operates across six campuses and six specialist training centres throughout Melbourne’s north and south east plus a regional campus at Ararat. The institute delivers high quality vocational education in industry-standard facilities.

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