The Hear and Say Centre Expands its Horizons

By Dimity Dornan, Cert.AVT

The Hear and Say Centre, Brisbane, Australia celebrated its 10th birthday on July 6 with the official opening of its fourth branch Centre.

This not-for-profit facility was founded by Cert.AVT Dimity Dornan in 1992, following a training tour in Canada in which she worked with Judy Simser and Warren Estabrooks. This visit was sponsored by a Churchill Fellowship and led to the successful opening of the Centre with six children. Thanks to an innovative and talented Chairman, Jane Black, board members, devoted staff, and many willing friends, the Centre today has a total of 108 children, with six more waiting for a place.

The Hear and Say Centre in Brisbane now has full audiological facilities, a pediatric Cochlear Implant program, an Outreach program coordinated by Cert.AVT Sue Hayne, teleconferencing facilities, indoor and outdoor play areas, and a training facility. The first AVI Standardized Curriculum-based course will be held September 23-27 and registrants are invited to apply for a position. (See contact information below.)

Three years ago the Hear and Say Centre Gold Coast program opened with Cert.AVT Teresa Daniel in charge. It now cares for 23 children from southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. The Board of the Hear and Say Centre has approved the purchase of land at University Lakes on the Gold Coast for the building of a brand-new centre so that audiological and play facilities can be developed.

A group of children are also being seen in borrowed premises in Dalby, on the Darling Downs, a country town on the mountain plains west of Brisbane. Wendy Caldwell is the therapist coordinating this branch.

The 10th birthday addition is the new North Queensland Centre, headed by teacher of the deaf Kerrie Endres, who is also the parent of 5-year-old Samuel, who received his cochlear implant 2 years ago.

Other therapists at the Centre are Speech Pathologist Charlene Hansen and Audiologist Emma Rushbrooke. Emma is in charge of the Parent/Infant program at the Hear and Say Centre, which has 26 children under the age of 2 years.

The Cochlear Implant coordinator, Audiologist Lia Lassig, has been busy developing the protocol for Intra-operative Electrically Evoked Auditory Brainstem Response (EABR) and Neural Response Telemetry (NRT) tests of the functioning of the Cochlear Nucleus Implants, in which the center specializes.

The Hear and Say Centre is a Supporting Party of the Co-operative Research Centre for Cochlear Implant and Hearing Aid Innovation and as such is involved in a number of concurrent research programs, as well as several centre-based research incentives.

The 10th birthday celebrations included an enormous birthday cake for the children and parents to share on July 6 and a series of events including a charity Gala Ball and a special graduation party for the parents and friends in November. Already the annual Butterfly Day (butterflies are deaf) has been marked in a significant way by the children’s release of several flocks of butterflies into the garden.

The next decade promises many challenges as parents are voting with their feet and eagerly awaiting placement for their children at one of our four centres. Centre funding, which includes 11 percent from the Australian Federal and State Governments, will need to increase by about 30 percent each year if all the children whose parents choose our centre are to be accommodated. A Centre Development team, Robyn Symons and Jim Fagan, work tirelessly to ensure that funding for each child’s needs can be met. Executive Officer and policy writer Joan Newton, who is a Teacher of the Deaf, is kept busy formulating the documents required for the many facets of our team’s needs.

I would like to acknowledge the fine work of the Hear and Say Centre administrative team, Heather Wheatland, Patti Wilson, Katie Power, and my special assistant, Jane Thompson.

Finally, I would like to share a message from one of our children:

Happy Birthday, Hear and Say!

Dimity Dornan A.M., Cert.AVT
40-44 Munro St
Auchenflower, QLD 4066
Brisbane, Australia
E-mail: [email protected]

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