A lack of funding for sign language interpreters has seriously affected the quality of life for people in aged care.
A lack of funding for sign language interpreters has seriously affected the quality of life for people in aged care.

Deaf woman feels broken, isolated and forgotten in aged care

A profoundly deaf woman's experiences with aged care have left her feeling broken, isolated and forgotten.

A lack of funding for sign language interpreters has seriously affected the quality of 68-year-old Elizabeth Karn's life, a reality shared by her deaf friends.

"As a deaf elder, I am exhausted and feel broken along with my friends who are in the same situation as me," Ms Karn told the aged care royal commission on Friday.

"We feel excluded, neglected and now isolated because of our disability and age.

"We just want the right to gain access to services and funding that allows deaf elders the right to communicate freely in our country."

The NSW woman missed out on assistance through the National Disability Insurance Scheme because it was rolled out in her region after she turned 65.

She tried the aged care system but was told sign language interpreters were not provided.

"I felt really excluded," Ms Karn said through an Auslan interpreter, while about 20 members of the deaf community sat in the Melbourne hearing room.

"It is like they forgot deaf people."

Senior counsel assisting the royal commission Peter Gray QC said the absence of Auslan interpreting services in the My Aged Care framework was disturbing and unacceptable.


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