Dedicated to Giving Children a Voice
10 February 2014 at 10:08 am
Identifying a need to provide better access to services for children who are deaf, Speech Pathologist Dr Dimity Dornan, started the Hear and Say Centre. Dr Dornan is this week’s Changemaker.
In 1991, Dr Dornan, inspired by Childhood Hearing Impairment Consultant Judy Simser and her Auditory-Verbal service, was awarded the Churchill Fellowship to study Simser’s therapy with the purpose to set up a charity Auditory-Verbal Centre.
The Hear and Say Centre started in 1992 in Queensland, run from Dr Dornan and her husband’s own private practice rooms. It started out with just six children and has now grown to provide services and programs to more than 600 children across six centres as well as e-Auditory-Verbal Therapy and e-Audiology programs for rural and remote areas.
Dr Dornan has been awarded many accolades and honours including a Member of the Order of Australia (1998); Fellow of Speech Pathology Australia (1999); Australian Medical Association (AMA) Award of Distinction for Services to Medicine (1999); and Australian of the Year for Queensland (2003).
She gained her PhD in 2011 from the University of Queensland, and also received an Honorary Doctorate (Honoris Causa) from the University of Southern Queensland and was appointed Adjunct Associate Professor of the University of Queensland, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences.
This year Dr Dornan was given the academic title of Associate Professor, Griffith University, School of Allied Health Sciences.
What are you currently working on in your organisation?
To develop Hear and Say’s new Bioscience Centre of Excellence for Hearing to be based in Ashgrove, Brisbane, which is due to open late this year.
The Centre will be the enabler for Hear and Say to continue to grow and meet demand not just in Brisbane, but across Queensland through our ehealth programs and to expand our work to have an impact globally.
What drew you to the Not for Profit sector?
Child need! I am leading my work from a place of empathy for parents and my personal need to help the world. I believe there is no better way to do this than to help people to communicate.
How long have you been working in the Not for Profit sector?
For about 22 years, since I started Hear and Say.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Telling parents that the potential today for deaf children is that listening and speaking clearly is the reality for almost every child.
What has been the most challenging part of your work?
The greatest challenges have been the lack of funding, and disbelief from my fellow professionals, in the early years, that deaf children can learn to listen and to speak.
I have overcome these obstacles through sheer determination. In regards to funding, building relationships and working together toward a ‘win win’ has helped, although as the demand has grown the organisation’s need for funds has also grown.
I have addressed disbelief from fellow professionals by showing the clinical outcomes of our work. Hear and Say has a research and innovation arm that does just that, while closely connected to this is Hear and Say WorldWide, which has enabled us to educate and train professionals globally.
I consider my greatest achievement to be …
….well over 1000 listening and speaking children who can also read at an age appropriate level, many who today are working in professions of their choosing.
Favourite saying …
Over the years I have had many but currently my two favourites are:
“The best way to predict the future is to invest it.” – Abraham Lincoln
“Excellence is never an accident it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution.” – Aristotle
I’m always being asked …
Why I love what I do.
Through your work, what is your ultimate dream?
Listening and speaking for all children in the world.
What (or who) inspires you?
Where do you feel your passion for good came from?
From the nuns who taught me at school – we learnt empathy at a very early age.