New articles are published every month under the headings below.

Setbacks serve as inspiration for Taranaki teenager

May 2018 Taranaki Daily News

Former Stratford High School student Madison Davy is the Southern Hearing Charitable Trust (SHCT) Scholarship Award 2018 winner. She is the first female to receive the scholarship, which was presented at the King and Queen Suites Hotel in New Plymouth.

Davy was born profoundly deaf and received a cochlear implant when she was 2-years-old through the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme (SCIP). When she turns her implant off she hears nothing. Despite this huge challenge, she has gone on to outstanding achievements both in her academic and community life. A born leader, she lives her life as inspiration to other young people suffering hearing impairments. "I'm so grateful for the award. It is going to help me in realising my goal of a career in digital media," Davy said. "I believe being positive truly helps you rise above life's challenges - always helping others and showing them they can achieve anything they put their mind to."

Madison Davy

Madison Davy is flanked by her father Darryn and mother Kelly.

The scholarship is funding her Level 4 Information and Technology studies at Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (Witt), and an online digital media course she will complete following this.

David Kent, chairman of the SCHT Board, and an adult recipient of bilateral cochlear implants, presented the award. "Cochlear implants are life-changing and restore sound to the hearing impaired. We're very proud of Madison, and the young people she represents. We enjoy seeing them form successful careers, aware of how the implants have aided their achievements," Kent said. He added that it was inspiring to see many more deaf students transitioning from high school into university despite the challenges they faced.

Among a long list of achievements, Madison received the Principal's Award at Stratford High School (2017) for NCEA Level 2 Merit in Digital Technology, and is a member of the Deaf Aotearoa Youth Board (2017-2018), and local Parents of Deaf Children (PODC) group, where she is a role model for younger children with cochlear implants. She was also a finalist in the 2016 Attitude Awards.

Madison's biggest challenge in recent years was having spinal fusion, a major surgery to correct her severe scoliosis. "It involved a long recovery after the surgery last June and I'm still dealing with daily pain, tensed muscles and general discomfort. Managing this has helped me become a stronger woman and enhanced my outlook on life," she said.

This year Madison started a course in Information Technology at Western Institute of Technology in New Plymouth in a bid to start a career in digital media and design. "I became interested in digital media during high school, I enjoyed it and is something I believe I'm good at. I also enjoy photography," Madison said. Despite her difficulty hearing, Madison has worked out ways to overcome the barriers. "Before Madison started WITT, she explained her situations to the tutors and tell them what makes it easier for her to learn," Kelly said. Sitting at the front of the class, getting the tutors to break down the information and speak as simply and clearly as possible, and providing written notes or online links were just a few techniques that helped.

Kelly said helping and supporting others was just a part of Madison's nature and personality. "I've been active in parents' support groups over the years and Madison sometimes came along when able, so she learnt young how important helping others was.” Madison has a huge whanau who are always willing to support her and give her words of wisdom. Throughout her primary and high school years she has had resource teachers of deaf ensuring she can speak, hear and supporting her to learn well.

Fremantle Dockers’ Darcy Tucker hails vital role of hearing facility

May 2018 The West Australian

Seeing two clubmates face the challenge of raising a child with severely impaired hearing has become the driving force for Fremantle’s Darcy Tucker to get involved with the Telethon Speech and Hearing institute. Tucker and teammate Brady Grey were at the Wembley institute’s family fun day yesterday as part of the Dockers’ partnership with the organisation. Also there were Fremantle development coach Marc Webb and his wife Lisa, a star in Fremantle’s AFLW team.

The Webbs’ three-year-old son Ollie attends the institute after being diagnosed with severe to profound hearing impairment soon after birth. Ollie received a cochlear implant in March to improve his hearing.

Darcy Tucker with Webb family

The Webb family with Darcy Tucker.

“It is how I got involved,” Tucker said. “Obviously this is a great initiative for all of the kids who have hearing and speech difficulties. It is a great partnership with the club, especially with Marc and Lisa Webb, whose son Ollie has involvement here. We have seen the great things that the Telethon Hearing and Speech Centre have been able to do for Ollie and the Webb family. It is great to be a part of. It is rewarding for me as a player.”

Tucker said the institute played a vital role in preparing hearing-impaired kids for education, and taught life skills. “What they do is build kids into schooling so they learn how to speak and hear better,” he said. “It supports the families as well which is important because it is obviously tough for the families in these types of situations. They have all of the tools here to make the kids’ lives as normal as possible.”

Wollongong Private Hospital performs first cochlear implant surgery

May 2018 Illawarra Mercury

A 70-year-old man was the first patient to undergo bilateral cochlear implant surgery in the Illawarra on Friday. It’s been a long-held dream of Wollongong ear, nose and throat surgeon Dr Ekrem Serefli to bring the specialist surgery to the region, to enable “potentially thousands” of hearing-impaired residents to have the operation close to home. Dr Serefli has trained at Sydney’s St Vincent’s hospital under renowned hearing implant surgeon Dr Phillip Chang, who was at Wollongong Private Hospital on Friday afternoon to assist in the surgery.

Dr Ekrem Serefli

Specialist surgery: Dr Ekrem Serefli is the only ENT surgeon in the Illawarra trained to perform cochlear implants.

“I’d estimate there’d be around 6000 people in the Illawarra who would be eligible for cochlear implants,” Dr Serefli said.  “There’s a growing number of people with post-lingual deafness which is mainly noise-induced – for instance if they’ve worked in factories or the military. It can also be due to trauma, such as a sports injury, or infection.”

For many of these people, hearing aids can be of little benefit. A cochlear implant works differently – rather than just amplifying sound, the electronic device simulates the job of the damaged inner ear (cochlea), to provide sound signals to the brain. “Those with severe to profound hearing loss can benefit greatly from cochlear implants,” Dr Serefli said. “At Wollongong Private we will be operating on adults only. The implants are switched on one week after surgery and many patients benefit immediately and continue to improve over the next three months. “Their hearing, speech and language skills improve and they become much better connected to their environment, family and community.”

Renowned Southern Highlands pioneer Dr Bruce Shepherd dies

May 2018 Illawarra Mercury

The Shepherd Centre founder and pioneer of therapy and services for children with hearing loss in Australia passed away on May 25. He was 85. Dr Shepherd and his late wife Annette were pioneers of their time. They worked tirelessly at finding an alternative to the methods available in Australia for children with hearing loss when their children Penny and Danny were both born profoundly deaf.

Dr Bruce Shepherd

Dr Shepherd

Well-known Bowral resident Dr Bruce Shepherd AM has died

 At that time, children with hearing loss were typically sent to designated schools for the deaf, often as boarders, where they were taught sign language and were isolated from their families and the hearing community. After extensive research, Bruce and Annette Shepherd embarked on a journey to America to attend the summer program at The John Tracy Clinic in Los Angeles.  Impressed by this method of early intervention, Dr Shepherd brought this back to Australia where they established “The Council for Integrated Deaf Education” on Sydney University grounds – which later became known as The Shepherd Centre. 

It was the first early intervention agency to teach “Auditory-Oral Therapy” to children with hearing loss in Australia.  Starting with just five families, The Shepherd Centre now supports more than 500 families a year in NSW, the ACT and Tasmania and is continuing to grow. Dr Shepherd was also instrumental in lobbying the government for the introduction of the NSW State-wide Infant Screening Hearing (SWISH) program which was established in 2000 and is now used nationally.

His work has helped position Australia as one of the best places in the world to be born deaf with The Shepherd Centre’s outcomes for children with hearing loss incomparable. 

In 1991 Dr Shepherd was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) for his efforts in deaf education, teaching deaf children to speak and enabling them to attend mainstream schools with full integration. During his professional life, he became NSW state and federal president of the AMA.  He founded the Australian Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Australian Doctors’ Fund, and was first leader of both of these.  He was also President of The Australian Orthopaedic Association.

Dr Bruce Shepherd was always committed to deliver the best healthcare for all Australians. He is well known for passionately leading a group of doctors fighting the Hawke Labor Government striving to nationalise the profession.

Since its inception almost 50 years ago, The Shepherd Centre has enabled more than 2000 children to develop spoken language and experience social inclusion.

Having wishes heard

April 2018 SunshineCoast Daily

When Penny Phillips and Sophy Wragnell met during a Pilates class, neither one knew it would lead to a partnership to help Sunshine Coast residents with hearing loss.

Having lived with severe hearing loss for most of her adult life, Mrs Phillips received a cochlear implant four years ago. She discovered CICADA shortly after the surgery to have her implant inserted. She said while it was the best thing she ever did, the journey after having the implant turned on was tough. "It can take a good two or three years for people to learn to decipher sounds and to talk,” she said. "It's important to support their journey and that's what CICADA does.” Mrs Phillips spends a great deal of time fundraising for CICADA, a volunteer-run, not-for-profit organisation that provides support to people to have received a cochlear implant.

Wishing Well SOUNDS GREAT: CICADA will benefit from a donation from Bellingham Maze's wishing well

Bellingham Maze owner Mrs Wrangell said CICADA seemed like the perfect organisation to donate a portion of the maze's wishing well money. "The original owner's son had hearing loss and so the wishing well has always provided money to Deaf Services Queensland,” MrsWrangell said. "So when Penny approached me and inquired about the possibility of donating some of the money to CICADA it seemed like a perfect fit because at the end of the day it's still helping people with hearing impairments.”

After cleaning out the well, nearly $4000 was collected, with $1000 being donated to CICADA.

Mrs Phillips said it's money that would help provide much-needed support and services on the Coast. "We plan on using some of this money to fund captioning at some events,” she said. "That's where someone comes in and types what is being said live so it's displayed on a big screen for people with hearing impairments. It doesn't come cheap, at about $250 per event, so this money is a huge help.”

Seven-year-old Lucy Masters raises awareness about World Hearing Day

March 2018 Yass Tribune

Meet Lucy Masters, a seven-year-old from Yass born with microtia who shared her story on World Hearing Day to help change the lives of others. Children born with microtia have a congenitally small, malformed or absent external ear. With one in six Australians currently affected by hearing loss, which is expected to rise to one in four by 2050, stories like Lucy’s are important to be shared.  Lucy and her proud parents are eager to share her story because of how much hearing loss impacted on her life, noting safety as a major concern.

Lucy Masters

Since receiving her MED-EL Bonebridge Implant, Lucy said she had found crossing the road a lot easier. “I can now hear cars coming up behind me,” she said. The first sounds she noticed when her device was activated were the sound of the cars driving past outside.  “It was the best feeling ever. Everything was so clear. It was a very happy moment. My mum cried and told me that she was so happy because it would change my life, and it really has,” she said.

Lucy’s mum, Michelle Lloyd, remembers the day Lucy was born. “The doctors told us she only had one normal ear. “Being first-time parents, we went into panic mode, not knowing what microtia was and more importantly, what future our little girl had. “But we looked down at her little ear and thought it was just beautiful and knew we would do whatever we could,” Ms Lloyd said.

It took a few trips down various paths before finding the road that would ultimately lead to the doors opening up for Lucy. It was a visit to Westmead Children’s Hospital and meeting Associate Professor Catherine Birman, a specialist adult and paediatric cochlear implant surgeon, otologist, and paediatric ENT surgeon. Lucy’s parents credit Professor Birman, as well Lucy’s audiologists at Australian Hearing Canberra, together with the support from other families that made them feel incredibly informed and supported on this journey.

Lucy said her schoolmates think she “looks cool”. “I am no different to anyone else. “I have a Bonebridge [implant] to help me hear. Some kids wear glasses to help them see. We all have something special about us,” she said. Lucy’s passion is dancing and she said she can now “keep in time with the music”. “I love music and dancing as you can express yourself. Hearing my fave songs is just the best,” she said. But more than a passion, dancing is part of Lucy’s hopes and dreams for the future, wanting to become a professional dance teacher and “be able to help other kids with hearing loss that they can live life to the fullest”.

Hunter Hero: Hearing advocate Sue Jenkins used willpower to get her life back

March 2018 Newcastle Herald

Sue Jenkins

It was Valentine’s Day, 2006, when Sue Jenkins lost the strongest link to staying connected.

“Our whole world is based on communication, speech and listening, and I just had none,” she said. “I went from being a hearing person to nothing.” The Cardiff woman went profoundly deaf on that day and was confronted with a $40,000 bill for a cochlear implant to treat her large vestibular aqueduct syndrome. It was a treatment she could not afford. At that time, patients were required to pay the full amount, and no adult had ever had the device surgically implanted in the Hunter. Mrs Jenkins would become the first woman to ever have a cochlear implant installed in Newcastle, but not without a struggle. 

The mother-of-four would need to learn how to communicate with only pen and paper. She would have to learn to lip read. Some days, she said, the impact of losing her hearing was so great she couldn’t get out of bed. “It was very dark,” she said. “Losing my hearing was absolutely devastating. I wasn’t myself and that was very hard to get used to.” With a determination to be there for her family, she knew she had to get out of the rut and “do something as quickly as I could”.

“I found the strength to raise the money [for the operation],” she said. “And because of all the amazing people around me I was able to.” Mrs Jenkins was a much-loved staff member at Charlton Christian College in Fassifern. The school community rallied around her. A little more than a year later and Mrs Jenkins had the money to receive the cochlear implant, which was provided by the newly opened Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre Newcastle, a service of the Royal Institute of Deaf and Blind Children.

“Two weeks later they switched it on … the first words I heard were my husband asking what was for dinner,” she joked. Mrs Jenkins said being able to hear again “gave back my life”.

She now works as a chaplain in aged care and uses her experience to help bring people out of dark places. “What I want to do is offer people hope,” she said. “People supported me and I want to support others. People go into dark places and that happens, but there is someone out there who cares for you.”

Mrs Jenkins is an advocate for healthy hearing and encourages people to get their ears regularly checked. “My message is to look after your hearing,” she said. “You don’t know how important it is until you’ve lost it.”

Loss leads to discovery of talent for speaking

March 2018 Kalgoorlie Miner

For International Women’s Day, professional speaker and story-teller Lisa Evans travelled to Kalgoorlie from Perth to speak at the Supper at Sunset event. “For me, it is a day of celebrating everything that is wonderful about women,” she said. “It’s also a time where we can reflect and think about those women who have gone before us and who have made great sacrifices towards equality.” She said her own success in life came after a long and challenging journey, having started out as a nurse and midwife.

Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans says losing her hearing forced her to re-invent herself at a later stage in life

“It was my dream job ... then 12 years ago, a virus destroyed a significant amount of my hearing,” she said. “It wasn’t therefore practical to work in my area. I’d specialised in neonatal intensive care, a very high-tech, challenging and demanding area of nursing.”

Her loss of hearing forced her to leave nursing, she said, but a cochlear implant led to an interest in speaking. “In losing my hearing, I sort of discovered my voice,” she said. “I’d gone through a period of feeling very isolated. I often describe deafness as an invisible disability because people don’t realise how debilitating it is.” She said she hoped her influence as a speaker could empower other women, and that women were silent achievers. “We often don’t take the time to stop and recognise or celebrate our achievements,” she said. “We simply just do what we do without any fanfare or without any expectation of any praise or recognition.”

Events Coming Up

28 Oct 2018;
10:30AM - 02:00PM
Illawarra Cochlear Implant Support Group
11 Nov 2018;
11:00AM - 03:00PM
Sunday BBQ - November AGM
20 Nov 2018;
06:30PM - 08:00PM
Preserving Residual Hearing Seminar

Become a Member

Become a Cicada member
For only A$10 per year, you will receive a copy of Buzz magazine and can attend events.


Here is a link to Deafblindness support and information. They are based in Western Australia and supported by Senses Australia.

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