The following is a a video of a speech given by Dimity Dornan in the presence of the then Governor-General at Kirribilli House, Sydney, on 24 October 2007 – nearly 4 years ago – where she likens deafness to polio 20 years ago, and claims that very soon hearing loss will be able to be ‘decimated’ as an illness. There is no captions on the video, but thanks to Rachael McQuillan and her husband Lenny, a transcript follows.
Thank you, your excellency for inviting us to your beautiful home and for launching hear and say worldwide.
It has taken us quite a number of years to get to this point and it is a very exciting moment, and we are very proud to be here.
And I’d like to tell everybody a little bit about why we’re here, um, in detail. Because some of you, I don’t think, will be aware of all of the little bits and pieces that go together to make up what we’re hoping to do with hear and say worldwide.
I’m very honoured to stand in front of you today as we travel into a world of global hearing health, with the official launch of our new export program, hear and say worldwide.
The undertaking by the governor general to support this program is a testament to the importance of hear and say worldwide, and should be seen as a real indicator of how close we are to the delivery of our vision of being the leader in the provision of access to listening and spoken language for children with hearing loss and their families worldwide.
Hearing loss, as we know, is the most common disability in newborn babies, worldwide, and it’s often diagnosed too late for optimal treatment. And in addition to this sad fact, there are presently only enough trained, uh, listening and speaking professionals to effectively treat 8% of all the children and adults, uh, worldwide with hearing loss. The good news is, today we stand where polio was 20 years ago. Through a combination of newborn hearing screening and most important point, the, our wonderful cochlear implants and digital hearing aids and early auditory verbal intervention we now have the potential to decimate the very serious consequences of hearing loss globally.
Recent research conducted both here in Australia and overseas has shown that the focus for treatment for hearing loss in babies should be on the brain. And that the ear is merely the conduit to the brain. The most urgent implication of this research is that hearing loss in babies is a neurological emergency, because the optimal developmental window for the auditory brain, for learning to listen, develop, and understand speech, closes very early.
This means that early diagnosis and followup intervention is critical to ensure that babies learn to listen, um, and through hear and say worldwide early intervention of our program will assist in alleviating this critical need for appropriately qualified hearing health care professionals and provide much needed teaching resources for this market. For example, we are currently working on a teaching resource for the 15000 children in china who will receive a cochlear implant in the next 5 years. Hear and say worldwide is a systematic approach to building on Queensland and Australia’s brain based economy by exporting knowledge and skills into the international market. Already, we’ve trained professionals in 12 countries over the past 7 years.
This year, we have already worked in Russia, I’ve made presentations in Germany, and Papua New Guinea, where we have a team ready and waiting to help those children who are needing our care. And we’re currently in the process of developing new programs for the malarian markets, and we’re very excited about this opportunity that we may be helping them to set up some cochlear implant programs by training their professionals there. And we have to thank for this the Queensland government, support from AusTrade, and the Australian institute for commercialisation.
A key to our success will be the development of close, strategic partnerships with our major technology providers. And I’m very pleased to recognise Mr Mark Salmon, the president for Asia pacific for cochlear in the audience. However, without the specialised therapy to support these technological devices, sound is just noise, and it is the specialised therapy that gives our hear and say centre children the ability to learn to listen and speak just like other children.
Now, to underpin this work, we have developed our research and development arm, which has it’s official opening shortly, the international hearing innovation centre in Brisbane, where we are combining leading researchers, such as the Queensland brain institute, the centre for cognitive neuroscience, and the centre for magnetic resonance, Australia university’s corporate partners, so that we’re building a hub of hearing research in Queensland to supplement the already great work being undertaken by the hearing collaborative research centre for Australia. Accordingly, they have recently announced their intention to co-locate a Queensland node of the hearing CRC with us at our new international hearing intervention centre in … in Brisbane.
Earlier this year Dr. Ventin Surf one of the co-founders of the internet, introduced hear and say worldwide to the Queensland business community when he stopped over in Brisbane, and he com- he shared with the audience his personal connection to deafness – Both he and his wife are profoundly deaf – and how his family has adopted the policy that no decibel will escape undetected.
[murmurs of laughter from audience]
It is this sort of passion and drive to remove the effects of hearing impairment that has brought us to this point today, where we can finally, officially launch hear and say worldwide, so, with this, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all those people involved in getting us to this point in our journey. I hope they will continue to offer their invaluable assistance as we move further afield with this venture. I’ve very personally excited about what we can achieve with hear and say worldwide, because I believe that there is no better way for us to help the world, than to help people communicate more effectively with each other.
Thanks to John McGrgeor who brought it to our attention in the Facebook group: 10,000 signatures to have Dimity Dornan prosecuted- Deaf Cultural Genocide