Graduate to make a difference to those with vision loss

Graduate to make a difference to those with vision lossMelissa receives her testamur from RIDBC Renwick Centre Director, Professor Greg Leigh.

Bellbowrie resident, Melissa Fanshawe, is one of 75 trained graduates to be recognised at a ceremony at Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) for completing their postgraduate qualifications in sensory impairment.

Melissa has completed her Master of Special Education (Vision Impairment) through RIDBC Renwick Centre, the largest provider of postgraduate education programs in the field of the education of children with a sensory disability in Australia. The centre operates in affiliation with the University of Newcastle (with all degrees awarded by the university).

Melissa has been working with people with vision loss for many years.

"I have been involved in special education since 2002. In 2007, my third child, Oliver was born with low vision," said Melissa. "I decided to undertake further study to learn more and help Oliver and others succeed in a sighted world.

“I studied part-time while working 4 days a week as a Deputy Principal / Head of Student Support Services at Pullenvale State School in the Western Suburbs of Brisbane. I loved online learning and the lecturers were so supportive and understanding of my other commitments.

“My academic marks were a highlight of my master’s degree. I received a high distinction in every subject – it was hard work, especially with four kids and a busy job!”

Melissa holds a strong belief in the value of continued education.

"I have a passion for inclusive education, designing curriculum and pedagogy to ensure all students can achieve their best. The value of further education cannot be underestimated. As teachers, we are encouraging students to love learning and be lifelong learners, and therefore have to model those expectations ourselves.”

Through RIDBC Renwick Centre, RIDBC and the University of Newcastle have reversed a trend of diminishing professional specialisation in the field of educating children with a sensory disability. Almost 900 graduates from the centre are now working to improve the educational opportunities available to children with sensory impairment around the country and the world.

More information about RIDBC teacher training, professional development and research is available at

RIDBC is a charity and Australia’s largest non-government provider of therapy, education and cochlear implant services for people with hearing or vision loss, supporting thousands of adults, children and their families, each year.

RIDBC relies heavily on fundraising and community support to be able to continue to make a difference in people's lives.