1.3.11 Constituency Statement - Mr John Berryman

Wednesday, 02 March 2011


 Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (4:00 PM) —It is my privilege to rise today to congratulate John Berryman, the CEO of the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children at North Rocks, in my electorate of Mitchell. After 33 years of service with the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children he is retiring.


In 1978 John Berryman was hired to install the first computer at the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children. This fine charity is one of Australia’s oldest registered charities and this year is celebrating its 150-year anniversary. That is a fantastic achievement in anyone’s books. They have been providing services for blind and deaf children for 150 years, and with advances in technology the impact that they have had on children across this nation has been immense. They have early intervention, preschool and school programs. Their programs for deaf and hearing impaired children are built on spoken communications and involve the use of cochlear implants and high-quality hearing aids. They conduct programs for smaller groups of deaf children who need to use sign language. When you visit their campus it is amazing to see the technology that is being used for video conferencing, serving the country and regional areas of our nation. It is a fine facility.


Thirty-three years after John Berryman arrived he is leaving, after many wonderful years of success. He says that it has been a very big and rewarding part of his life, but he recognises that it is time to let younger, more vigorous and more up-to-date people take the reins. I reject the notion that Mr Berryman is not up to date. He has been a remarkable force for good in our nation’s history. He has served the deaf and blind community relentlessly during those 33 years and his impact has been immense.


The North Rocks campus is big; it is unusual in Australia today in its scope and size. It is so rewarding to see different classes of children using advanced technologies and signing the national anthem, doing all the innovative things that they do at that school, and having the same opportunities and advantages that so many of us take for granted today.


I also want to congratulate the Lantern Club, the formal fundraising component of the North Rocks deaf and blind school. They do outstanding work in this cause and raise so much private capital and money for things which would not be possible for the government to fund. Of course, the government does provide significant money in places. The institute recorded a $500,000 grant last year from the federal government, for which they are most grateful. It is important for us to note that on average one child in 1,000 is born in Australia with a significant permanent hearing impairment. By the time that child reaches the age of five, there will be another child who is diagnosed with a similar loss.


I want to congratulate John Berryman on 33 wonderful years and congratulate the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children at North Rocks for the institution it has become today. (Time expired)