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Auslan leads the inspiration for Expression Australia

Vicdeaf, the organisation serving the Deaf community in Victoria, and TasDeaf, the Tasmanian equivalent, is now Expression Australia, as of Monday 13 August 2018. Making this switch is a culmination of months of community and stakeholder consultation. Auslan Connections remains the name of their Auslan interpreting agency.

In an unusual step, Auslan led the design process. The English name and the logo followed. This was significant as CEO, Chris Mathieson, explained:

Usually you start with the English and try to make the Auslan fit. We have turned the process on its head and started with our language, Auslan, and then moved onto the English.
Ramas McRae, Deaf Interpreter.

 “The process beginning with the Auslan sign first is probably something that we believe is the first in the world - that a Deaf organisation has changed its name and used Auslan to inform the logo but also the English name.” said Chris Mathieson.

 “It’s been quite an extensive process which started last year, in consulting with people, asking them for their feedback, we ran focus groups and we also distributed a survey widely for input."

During staff and community consultation feedback was given that they did not want hands in the logo, or animals such as a butterfly to signify empowerment. Rather, the feedback was that the new brand should be abstract. Feedback from consultation with community was that the new name also did not need to mention the word “Deaf”.

Signers wearing gloves lit with LED lights expressed some core themes from the community consultation in Auslan.  Concepts such as community, diversity, culture and identity were photographed as illuminated hand movements. The lit up Auslan hand-signs created shapes. These were the inspiration the branding agency used to come up with a logo design.

Time lapse photography of Auslan signs lit up as coloured streaks

Time lapse photography of Auslan signs lit up as coloured streaks

“Usually you start with the English and try to make the Auslan fit. We have turned the process on its head and started with our language, Auslan, and then moved onto the English.” said Ramas McRae, Deaf Interpreter and Community Advisory Group member, in a video about the process.

“The Auslan first approach is exciting and having a logo derived from Auslan and not English is powerful”  said Stef Linder, Community Advisory Group member. Brent Phillips, Director, Language, Partnerships and Innovation with Expression Australia explained the consultation outcomes. 

 “On our consultations with the community, staff and Deaf and hard of hearing people we identified three key value themes; communication, inclusion and empowerment,” he said.

“These three themes play an important role in strengthening and maintaining our brand.”

Stephen Nicholson, Program Manager, , also stressed the importance of the three key themes.

“It’s important to have these themes reflected in what we do to connect with everyone we work with,” Mr Nicholson said. 

Expression Australia - new shop front and signage

The new shop front and signage for Expression Australia.

There are multiple reasons behind the timing of the new name and brand, one being that services provided by the organisation in Victoria and Tasmania now reach outside the geographic locations in the name “Vicdeaf”, and while focused on the Deaf community, the services extend to other client groups too. Hard of Hearing people, the LGBT community, CODA (Child of a Deaf Adult) and the mainstream community all access Expression Australia services in different ways.

Community feedback was that the current brand needed a new, fresh look and focus. Vicdeaf and Tasdeaf merged about 2 -3 years ago, and the new identity allows all the services to be reflected under one banner, and opens opportunities to partnerships. The NDIS has been another driver behind the rebrand. Under the new scheme, the environment is more competitive. Deaf people have more control and more choice in accessing services.

Brent Phillips talks about the brand to the community. 

Over the years, Vicdeaf and Tasdeaf have gone through many incarnations as the associations adapt to changing times, culture and sensibilities. The organisation runs a range of services; Auslan classes, audiology, interpreting, and Job Support (Senswide Employment). Since its early beginnings in 1884, Vicdeaf is among the oldest deaf societies in Australia.

At our heart, we are still and will always remain a Deaf organisation.
Christine Mathieson, CEO of Expression Australia.

The Community Advisory Group has stressed that the history of Vicdeaf and Tasdeaf is important. Consideration has been given to maintaining a strong connection with the Deaf community and that the past is acknowledged and included.

“At our heart, we are still and will always remain a Deaf organisation”, said Christine Mathieson, CEO of Expression Australia.

Expression Deaf will serve to connect the organisation with our community, culture and language (Auslan) through Deaf events, programs and activities. “Victorian Deaf Society” remains the constitutional and legal name of the organisation.

The four services lines will be

  • Expression Access – a broad ranging service to increase access through services such as interpreting, technology, video production and NDIS supports
  • Expression Audiology (Hearservice Audiology and Rehabilitation)
  • Expression Employment (SensWide Employment)
  • Expression Learning – which focusses on capacity-building including through Auslan, deaf awareness, hearing awareness and transgender awareness programs, for example.

The new brand is reflected in six colors which recognise the diversity and flexibility of the clients and the way that they want to express themselves. The colours will not be associated with any particular service lines but will depend on the audience and message.

For more information about the new brand and the development process, is on the Expression Australia website

Tiles showing the six different colour  styles for the Expression Australia brand.


Published: 15/08/2018