My name is Claire, I am a Home Care Social Carer and I use my knowledge of Auslan to help my clients who are Deaf.

Auslan is the language used by the Australian Deaf Community. There are many different languages in the world and sign language is no different — for example, there is British Sign Language (BSL) and American Sign Language (ASL). Interestingly even different states in Australia also have different variations of certain signs, such as the sign for ‘water’ is different in Sydney than in Melbourne. Signs can also be specific to each community or family, and many town names are finger spelled.

Sign language is visual — the use of hand signs, facial expression and body language all combine together to create the Auslan Language. I believe it’s an important language to allow social inclusion of the Deaf community into their own country.

Auslan allows me to connect with everyone in Australia and the language is beautiful, open and expressive. I remember watching people that are Deaf sign when I was younger and I was mesmerised by the passion behind each sign.

My story

I began learning Auslan when I was 16 years old because there was a young man in our small town who was Deaf and he had no means of effectively communicating and no ability to build relationships as no one in the town knew how to sign.

So I bought my first Auslan book and started teaching myself. It was really interesting and super easy, especially as I always talk with my hands when speaking, so Auslan was simply changing my gestures into actually signs.

Then when I was working on the checkout in the local supermarket, instead of using pen and paper to communicate with him as others would, I could interact with him like I do with every customer. From there we were able to build an incredible bond of friendship!

When I moved to Sydney for university I began taking Auslan courses through the Deaf Society to enhance my skills, and would try and find shows in Auslan to practice.

I finally got to use my Auslan skills when I started working with Like Family, and it has been the most rewarding work — connecting those in the Deaf Community to the rest of the world. I take clients to see Auslan movies, we go for walks and lunches and chat all along the way! We have such a good time together and have built really genuine friendships. On top of this I have also been fortunate enough to experience working with Deaf and Blind, understanding their version of communication.

Learning Auslan was one of the best lessons I have learnt, and I feel others would feel the same — even if they just learn the basics, you never know where it might take you! In life a small gesture could make someone smile. Auslan puts all those small gestures into a language and a way for people to communicate and become part of their communities. It should be embraced and continued for many years!

If you live in NSW and are looking to apply purpose to your daily life, to help make the world a better place by harnessing your passion and contributing to your community – Like Family is for you. There isn't one particular passion, hobby, interest or skill that we look for, we even love Social Carers who have a passion for learning many new and different skills. All heroes have flexible hours to suit their schedule, with a good hourly pay rate. Sign up now to become a Social Carer where you will be matched with members in your local area who share your interests and are looking for companionship and support.