I am pleased to present the first edition of ‘Our Voices’ for 2022. The theme is Sustainability – but with a difference – in that it focusses on non-financial factors fundamental for sustainability such as caseload size; attracting and retaining scarce specialist staff; service adaptability in changing environments; good governance; and increasing public, political, and professional awareness of what we do, and the amazing outcomes achieved.

Apropos the latter, we also report on the excellent results of our Hearing Awareness Week media campaign that was undertaken in response to recent First Voice research showing that 94% of Australians do not know that children born deaf in Australia can achieve speech, language, and education outcomes equal to or better than those of children hearing with typical hearing of the same age.

This is a really serious issue: research shows that optimal outcomes for deaf children depends heavily on timely commencement of specialist early intervention (within a few months of diagnosis) and this means parents, governments and medical specialists need to be much better informed about referral pathways, intervention choices and evidenced-based outcomes.

I commend this edition to you. You will find it full of interesting reports, global and local, and family stories.

Mark Fitzpatrick

Chair First Voice | CEO Telethon Speech & Hearing