It has been my great pleasure to have been a part of a hearing, listening and speaking future for babies diagnosed with hearing loss for such a large part of my life.
For me, the look on the faces of the children when they hear for the first time, and when the parents light up with the prospect of what is possible for their child with hearing loss, are such amazing and incredible moments. Moments that I never tire of experiencing 25 years on.
I am also greatly honoured by the recognition that I have received over the years, specifically I refer to the great honour of being recognised as Senior Australian of the Year, Queensland for 2018.
So, when asked what it means to have given 25 years of ‘Sounds of Hope’ my answer is, to continue to give back more.
You may already be aware that hearing loss affects all Australians across their lifespan however you may not know that this comes at a cost to Australia of over $33 million every year.
Children and adults need hearing tests at transitional points throughout their lives (at birth, before school entry, starting high school, and in later years). This is a big part of what we do at Hear and Say, the not-for-profit organisation I am proud to have founded 25 years ago.
My role is to continue to advocate for change that will support ‘Hearing across the Lifespan’ and for Bionics (medical devices where medicine and engineering meet).
Founding Hear and Say was possible because Australia was already doing amazing things in the hearing and bionics areas. I am so proud to be an Australian, living in a country which has already achieved so much, and has the potential to achieve so much more.
Australia is already a world expert in hearing loss and bionics through the multi-channel bionic ear the ‘cochlear implant’ which was invented by remarkable Australian, Professor Graeme Clark. The bionic ear represents the world-first successful commercialisation of a device that interfaces with the brain and nervous system and changes it and changes lives.
Hearing loss is an invisible problem that can affect not only listening and speaking, but also reading, education, making friends, mental health, career and economic potential.
As a part of being Queensland’s Australian of the Year in the Senior Category, I am advocating for the national campaign ‘Break the Sound Barrier’ to make hearing research, healthcare and wellbeing the 10th national health priority.
When you reach a special milestone, like celebrating 25 years of founding Hear and Say the need to share that story becomes a priority. For many years I had wanted to tell the story of Hear and Say through the voices of the many amazing people that I have had the great pleasure of meeting.
I was thrilled in December last year for this to be made possible with the launch of a new book titled ‘Sounds of Hope’.
‘Sound of Hope’ shares the story of 25 years of giving the gift of listening and speaking to Queensland babies and children through the stories of the young adults who were early children in the program, parents, supporters, donors and staff.
It has been my great honour to have been a part of this journey and to have seen so many children, even those with the most profound hearing loss, grow up to fulfil their dreams for the future. I hope you will enjoy ‘Sounds of Hope’ as much as I enjoyed being involved with the many special people who helped bring so many great memories to life through the power of words.