Vanessa is an Auslan program coordinator and lecturer, supporting deaf children, young people, and their families to improve their communication skills. Vanessa also works with professionals who want to study Auslan.
I am a Deaf person raised by hearing parents who never lost hope despite the challenges I faced. My family sent me to a special education school offering a Deaf unit. I found myself very comfortable and happy with classmates who were like me, because I could communicate and understand them completely, so much better than at hearing school.
My performance in my secondary years inspired me to keep on dreaming for more success with the enlightenment, love and support of my dear parents and relatives. I enrolled at Holy Name University taking up a Bachelor of Secondary Education majoring in Special Education and Computer Science. I was very anxious, knowing that I was the only deaf student enrolled in the university.
I struggled at university because there were no deaf people and no interpreters. No one understood what I was going through. I was too anxious and afraid to tell people how difficult it was. I studied hard despite lack of sleep and in spite of my deafness.
Every day at university was stressful like you wouldn’t believe. Because I could not hear, in lessons I missed a lot of information. Group work, lectures and tutorials were so hard for me to deal with, because I was struggling to hear what was going on. At least my classmates were there to help and they learned some sign language. I was silent in classes, and was often in the library – a hidden corner where I could be alone and keep myself happy and comfortable.
Life was really not easy as you could imagine – full of frustration, language barriers, lack of social skills, audism and a struggle to understand everything. But did I EVER give up? No! I kept going. I was the first deaf person in Holy Name University’s history to graduate.
I needed to express what I have been through with so that you can understand how to deal with Deaf people like me, especially children. Nowadays we need more activism to be included into their education at schools, and for their families who face many barriers.
I worked with brilliant Deaf Children at Klemzig Primary School in Adelaide for two years and then moved up to Darwin because of my husband’s apprenticeship. I had thought I would never be able to work with Deaf Children again.
Then one day, one of my Deaf friends told me that Deaf Children Australia, who are based in Melbourne, were looking for a qualified teacher. I felt uncertain about working with children again, however when I saw them I felt I could give them new hope. Some of them had no language, and were falling ever behind in their learning because of an isolating deafness. It caused me to reflect back on my own life and where I had come from. I went home and tried to sleep but I was turning all my life events over in my head, thinking about the journey that had brought me here.
My experience was similar to their situations. I knew what they could do and what could happen to them. So I decided to use what power I had to help them towards a solution and to have a better education. I have now been working with them in the Northern Territory for 3 years and I really love it. I have been greatly rewarded by the many things that they have achieved.
Deaf Children Australia, in partnership with NT Department of Education, is providing Auslan video conferencing services to deaf children, young people and their families from remote areas across the Northern Territory who choose to use sign language to access educate.
The program is also providing opportunities for these children, young people and families to receive services such as Auslan language proficiency development, first language role models, mentoring and counselling through Auslan.
Deaf Children Australia
- TRUE STORIES: Joseph Majambere – Supporting people from all backgrounds to become who they wish to be.