Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the NRS

pic of Michael Welsh

Michael Welsh is a Wailwan man and a grandfather in his 60s who has had hearing loss for a long time. Although he has his own support networks, Uncle Michael realised he needed something more when he recently joined the local Men’s Shed in Mt Druitt.

‘I’ve been through so many years not being able to hear my children and what they were actually talking about. Coming up into the Shed I’ve realised that now it’s more important, I’ve got to hear, I need to hear people talking, even if they talk about me.’

If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person who is deaf or has a hearing or speech impairment the NRS could be a phone service for you. 

Higher rates of hearing loss

Indigenous Australians have higher rates of hearing loss than the general population and often find it hard to use the phone. Both hearing and speech difficulties are big issues in Indigenous communities – among young and old, men and women.

If you have a hearing or speech impairment and have difficulty using the phone, or have a friend or relation who does, the NRS can help. Our relay officers are ready to relay your calls – 24/7.

You can contact friends, family, emergency services and businesses through the NRS from around Australia.

Have a look at this video about Uncle Michael where he chats to his Men’s Shed mates. He makes a call to his grandson and organises to meet up with him later in the week.

Michael is enthusiastic about how the NRS will help him.

‘It’s going to make that much difference, important difference. It’s important that you can hear every word on the phone, it truly is.’

The facts about the NRS

  • You can ring anyone on the phone, including family members, anytime anywhere in Australia.
  • There is no extra charge for making a relay call. You just pay your regular data or phone costs.
  • Your privacy is protected.
  • Training to use the NRS is free.

How does the NRS work?

Relay officers are the central link in the phone call, relaying exactly what is said or typed. They stay on the line throughout each call to help it go smoothly, but do not interfere with what each person says. All relay calls are relayed using English.

Call types that may work for you 

There are many ways to make phone calls using the NRS – depending on your needs. See the different call channels available.

NRS app

If you have a smartphone or tablet, the NRS app is a great way to make calls for most of the above call channels. In particular Internet Relay and Speak & Listen calls let you use saved profile info, call set up phrases and GPS location information as part of the call. This can be useful if English isn’t your first language.

Health care professionals and health networks

If you are a health care professional working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people these products can help you provide the best service to your patients.

Did you know we could be yarning on the phone? A3 poster about Uncle Michael

Uncle Michael’s video

Other sites and services you might find useful 

Australian Hearing

Department of Health

Australian Indigenous HealthinfoNet

Australian Indigenous EarinfoNet

More info 

If you need more help or information please contact the NRS Helpdesk.

Click here to find out about calls to emergency services 

See the video about Uncle Michael and his journey.


The NRS Outreach provider is developing a Reconciliation Action Plan to support its work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities around Australia. 

Make an Internet Relay call Make a Captioned Relay call

24-hour relay call numbers

  • TTY/voice calls

    133 677

  • Speak & Listen

    1300 555 727

  • SMS Relay

    0423 677 767

Make other relay calls
– all the numbers you need
It’s going to make that much difference, big difference. People take phones for granted. But it’s important that you understand every word."
Uncle Michael Welsh at The Shed

Uncle Michael Welsh

Mt Druitt