Congratulations to Drisana Levitzke-Gray who received the Young Australian of the Year 2015 Award in Canberra on 25 January. This is a wonderful honour for the 21 year old who is an inspiration to many. Drisana will be a wonderful advocate for the entire community on the national stage. Deaf Children Australia is pleased to have been able to support Drisana through our Youth Grants to help her achieve her aspirations. Drisana received grants in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013, supporting her to develop her leadership skills through Frontrunners – an international Deaf Youth Leadership Training Program in Denmark, and representing Australia at the World Federation for the Deaf Youth Section in South Africa, for example.
Upon winning the Young Australian of the Year Award, Drisana said, “We need the support of the Australian government to ensure that deaf children and their families have access to Auslan. It’s a human right that they have that access. Auslan is my language, but it’s an Australian language and that makes it yours.”
Watch the Sunrise interview with Drisana and the hosts’ efforts to sign ‘Happy Australia Day’
View the earlier articles by ABC News “Beautiful Language: Drisana Levitzke-Gray recognised for efforts advocating for deaf rights” and WA Deaf Society Deaf Magazine
Biography: Drisana Levitzke-Gray, 21 – Deaf Advocate (Balga)
The fifth generation in her family to be born deaf, Drisana is dedicated to helping other deaf people and advocating for their human rights. Born into a family with deaf parents, a deaf brother and a deaf extended family, Drisana cherishes her first language, Auslan. She promotes the deaf community as one without borders and one of rich language, culture and traditions. As the only Australian selected to attend the Frontrunners international deaf youth leadership course in 2012/2013, Drisana worked with communities in Europe and Samoa to expand leadership capacity and human rights understanding of deaf youth. In 2014, Drisana became the first deaf Auslan user to fulfil her civic duty as a juror. Drisana is the embodiment of ‘deaf gain’, not ‘hearing loss’, inspiring the deaf community, encouraging others to accept diversity and promoting a positive image of deafness which says loudly and proudly: “It is okay to be deaf”.
Watch Drisana’s acceptance speech in Auslan from the WA Young Australian of the Year Award.