Meet Pauline: Education Administration Officer
We caught up with Education Administration Officer Pauline Hansen to find out more about her role, growing up in a Deaf community as a hearing person, and how Auslan is all about The Art of Conversation!
For Pauline Hansen, Auslan has always been a part of her life, growing up with two Deaf parents and surrounded by the Deaf community.
“For me, deafness is not an unusual experience,” she explains. I was always part of the Deaf community, which is such an active and social space.”
“It’s always been a part of me, and I’ve always used Auslan. Even when I’ve been in jobs and situations with no deaf people, my hands were still moving!”
Despite her native Auslan use, Pauline moved into work with hearing colleagues. She was eventually prompted to learn by a friend who suggested she think about becoming an interpreter.
“When you’re not using Auslan widely, your skills can stagnate, as with any language,” Pauline says. “So, I decided to improve my skills. I started classes with Deaf Services and the Deaf Society and was so lucky to have such a great class and teacher who put up with some of the old signs I used!”
Pauline progressed through community classes to certificate courses, eventually graduating with a Diploma of Interpreting. Around this time, an opportunity came up to work with the Deaf Services and the Deaf Society Education team and she jumped at the opportunity.
Today Pauline works as an Administration Officer for Community Classes - the introductory component of Auslan learning.
“It’s my job to organise in-person and online classes and to liaise with students and teachers and I just love it!” she says. “I’m so passionate about Auslan. It’s such a great language to learn because it’s so fun and expressive and it’s all about the art of conversation!”
Pauline is the first to admit that conversation is never something she’s short of and describes Auslan as the ultimate way to encourage connections between people.
“My work took me away from the Deaf community to a certain extent, and it was the conversations that drew me back. Being able to have a big, proper chat. I love this about Auslan."
Pauline says the favourite part of her role is chatting with prospective Auslan learners to find the learning pathway that suits them best.
“I love the fact we have such a diverse range of students all with different reasons for wanting to learn,” Pauline says, “You get teenagers wanting to learn because they have a deaf friend, you have grandparents reaching out because their new grandchild is deaf, you’ve got carers and support workers with nonverbal kids, all the way to people like chemists who interact with deaf people as customers and just want to be able to say hi, how are you?”
Pauline says that while there’s no such thing as a “typical" Auslan student, the one thing they have in common is enthusiasm about learning a language that has such immediate benefits.
“Often it might not even be introduction classes or an education pathway they’ll need,” she says. “Often I’ll tell them about the other programs Deaf Services and the Deaf Society offers, such as Auslan at Home.”
In the future Pauline will sit her NAATI (National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters) exam, the final step towards becoming a fully accredited Auslan interpreter.
“I don’t know what I’ll do if I pass my exam,” says. “I really enjoy my job here, so maybe I’ll do both? I’ll wait and see if I pass, and then think about what to do next.”
Whatever she does next, you can rest assured Pauline will always be up for a chat.