Aug 2017 Blue Mountains Gazette

At 23, former Springwood resident Emily Quinn Smyth has relished the opportunity to influence parliamentarians and shape the future for deaf people. Ms Quinn Smyth, who is profoundly deaf and received a cochlear implant at age two, was one of six deaf young people who spoke in Parliament in August on the theme ‘assuring the future for people with hearing loss.’

 EmilyRaising awareness: Emily Quinn Smyth addressing parliamentarians in August.

As she has had a cochlear implant for most of her life, Ms Quinn Smyth did not learn to sign using Auslan, and has only recently started learning the language. She’s since discovered there are no signs for scientific words and she would like to see this change. “Words like climate change you have to spell out,” she said. “I’d love to make it possible for more deaf people to get involved in science.” In her speech before parliament she pressed for funding to raise awareness of this oversight and get native speakers involved to create new signs.

Ms Quinn Smyth has a Bachelors of Science and Arts, and is currently studying for her Masters in Science (Research). She has moved to Sydney and works at the University of Technology Sydney as a teaching associate in the science faculty. “I’m passionate about the environment and issues. I’m really interested in communicating science,” she said. “All the conversations that are happening at the moment [around climate change etc], a person that’s deaf is missing out on lots of ideas.”  

Attending St Thomas Aquinas and then Blue Mountains Grammar, Ms Quinn Smyth said she was given additional support in school, but it wasn’t easy in the early years picking up sounds with the cochlear implant.

“You have to learn how to listen and teach the brain how to receive the signals,” said the graduate of the Shepherd Centre, where she learned to pick up sounds. Dr Jim Hungerford, CEO of The Shepherd Centre, said each of the six speakers are living proof of the outstanding achievements possible for people with hearing loss. “These remarkable young Australians truly are testament to the value of early intervention when it comes to giving deaf young adults the very best chance at life,” he said.  “People deserve to have equal opportunities to make their dreams come true, regardless of disability.”

Aug 2017 Manning River Times

The pioneering surgeon for cochlear implants in Australia is attended the first meeting of the Taree-Port Macquarie cochlear implant/bone anchored hearing aid support group in Taree on September 9. The gathering was at St John’s Anglican Church hall in Victoria Street, Taree. It was held in collaboration with Taree Quota Club, CICADA Australia and Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre. Contact is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or  0428 688 612.

July 2017 Sydney Morning Herald

Cochlear insists it is committed to Australian manufacturing after it unveiled a plan to spend $50 million in China developing the first offshore facility for its signature product as its local plants reach capacity. Cochlear will build the plant in the western Chinese city of Chengdu and hopes to have the first units rolling off the assembly line in four years once it has gained the necessary regulatory approvals. At full production, the plant will boost Cochlear's implant production capacity by 50 per cent. Cochlear has previously manufactured the implants only in Australia, although it has plants for other products in the United States, Sweden and Belgium it owns following acquisitions.

"We see that we could reach capacity in Australia in six, seven, eight years, so it's the right time," chief operating officer Dig Howitt said.


Mr Howitt said the company considered building the new plant in Australia but the decision to build a new facility in China should not be seen as a negative assessment of local conditions. "It is several things. That market presence is important, there will be a small cost advantage that is important to us but that local presence and learning is a bigger factor.”  Mr Howitt declined to say how much the cost savings associated with the shift might be but insisted Australia was still crucial.

"We are committed to manufacturing in Australia," he said, adding it was "totally integrated with our product development”.  He pointed to the company's purchase of its Lane Cove facility and an upgrade of its Brisbane plant as evidence of that commitment. "We will continue to export products from the Australian factories to China even after the Chinese factory is running," he said.

"We thought about this on a global basis and this is where our manufacturing strategy [aligns] with our China strategy.” China was already one of Cochlear's top five markets and it was expected to grow quickly as the government continued to push for the use of implants with children and as adults embraced the product in line with trends in more developed economies.

Mr Howitt said the company's thinking was also influenced by a desire to leverage access to local networks of health providers and ensure it headed off Chinese competitors. "By being here we will learn more about the market," he said. Investors lifted Cochlear's share price by 2.42 per cent to $153.57. "Cochlear has been building its presence in China for more than 20 years and this investment recognises the importance of our business in China and will support the future growth of our emerging markets business," chief executive Chris Smith said. Cochlear has the support of the local government but Mr Howitt played down suggestions of subsidies although he flagged some limited incentives such as key worker housing being made available.

July 2017 The Australian Business Review and SBS

Dig Howitt

Outgoing Cochlear chief executive Chris Smith will retire from his position on January 2, 2018

Hearing implant maker Cochlear has announced its chief executive officer Chris Smith will retire from his position on January 2, 2018. Dig Howitt, Cochlear’s chief operating officer, will replace Mr Smith as president of the company with immediate effect and will takeover as CEO when Mr Smith retires in January. The company says the appointment of Mr Howitt, who joined Cochlear (COH) in 2000, has been part of a succession process. Dig Howitt will take the seat as President now and transition to CEO responsibilities over the coming months. Mr Howitt joined Cochlear in 2000 and has held various roles, including chief operating officer; president, Asia Pacific; and senior vice-president, manufacturing and logistics.

Cochlear says over Chris Smith’s 13 years with the company, he made a substantial contribution and positively impacted many peoples lives. Chairman Rick Holliday-Smith said Mr Smith will leave the company in a strong position. "Chris has overseen a period of substantial growth for Cochlear, with the company exceeding a billion dollars in annual sales revenue during his time as CEO."