RIDBC Quarterly Newsletter - Autumn 2016

The RIDBC Quarterly: A quarterly publication of current information about RIDBC (Autumn 2016)

In this issue:

  1. From the Chief Executive
  2. Stanley is thriving with cochlear implants
  3. RIDBC's new 5 year strategic vision
  4. Celebrating 40 years of fundraising
  5. Lucy is exceeding all expectations
  6. Fundraise for RIDBC

1. From the Chief Executive

2016 is already shaping up to be an exciting and busy year for RIDBC!

With this Quarterly, we announce our 2016-2020 strategic vision and our intent over the next five years. Expanding our sites and services in order to meet nationwide demand and building new RIDBC Centres of Excellence in vision and hearing are just some of the many initiatives and ambitions already in motion, with firm goals of sustainability and growth in mind.  

Reflecting on 2015, it is evident that acceleration and diversification remained our focus throughout the year. We continued our footprint expansion to ensure accessible service provision. Our new facility in Deakin, Canberra that better aligns hearing and vision services in a NDIS landscape is now operational, as is our Wollongong site on the NSW South Coast. Our Port Macquarie site will expand its services from a new location this year. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank The Honourable John Ajaka MLC, Minister for Ageing and Minister for Disability Services, for his continued support and welcomed visit to RIDBC Dot’s Place playgroup in November.

This year’s Book and Community Fair will be held from 8 – 10 April. We hope you and your family will join our community, staff and students to have fun over this three day event, to learn more about our future plans, and help raise funds for RIDBC.

On behalf of RIDBC, I would like to say thank you for your continued interest and support. I wish you and your family the very best for the year ahead and I look forward to keeping you updated on all things RIDBC throughout the year.

Chris Rehn
RIDBC Chief Executive

2. Stanley is thriving with cochlear implants

When Stanley was five days old his newborn hearing screening test revealed that he was deaf. It was then that his parents, Mikaela and Stuart - who live in the Northern Territory - turned to RIDBC for support.

It was clear from an early age that Stanley would need cochlear implants to gain access to sound.

"Stanley was fitted with two hearing aids at four weeks of age but we never saw a response, even with loud sounds," said Mikaela.

Now three years old, in September 2013 Stanley received two cochlear implants through RIDBC.

"The week after his surgery he had his implants 'switched on' and he responded immediately," said Stuart. "It was like an awakening. He was wide eyed and looking around, interested in the sounds." 

Now Stanley's speech and language are coming along in leaps and bounds.

"We're just amazed every day," said Mikaela.  "We have assessments every 6 months through RIDBC and he has caught up to his peers. He is now speaking all the time!

"In our sessions with RIDBC we learn the strategies we need to use at home to support his learning. That's essential – the things we learn in our sessions keep us on track and ensure Stanley's progress."

Mikaela and Stuart are grateful for the support they have received.

"As a regional family it's been incredible to be able to access in-person services from RIDBC Darwin, as well as remote services through RIDBC Teleschool, which supports us with weekly videoconferencing sessions in our home," said Mikaela.

"With RIDBC at no point in the journey have we felt alone, or that Stanley would miss out because he doesn't live in a major metropolitan centre. We know he'll have the same opportunities as other children, and that's really the main goal. Now he's just a typical boy – he loves dinosaurs and boats!"

For more information about services available through RIDBC Darwin, call 1300 581 391 or email info@ridbc.org.au.

3. RIDBC's new 5 year strategic vision

Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) has developed a new strategic plan for 2016-2020 that will see us go through a substantial evolution.

RIDBC operates in a dynamic and competitive environment. Ongoing changes in the health, education and disability services sectors, increased options for intervention and support, and the changing way that people with disabilities access and choose their service providers, are transforming the sector in exciting ways.

All of these changes in our environment formed the impetus for change, our opportunity to explore our strategic plan for the future.

Our vision is clear…

Over the next five years, RIDBC will go through a substantial evolution, marking a new era of service provision for Australians with vision or hearing loss.

Our ambition over the next five years includes:

  • Expanding our sites and services in order to meet nationwide demand, opening new permanent sites, increasing outreach through visiting sites and delivering telepractice services where they are needed most.
  • Building new RIDBC Centres of Excellence in vision and hearing which will develop, deliver and demonstrate best practice services and support for people with vision or hearing loss. These centres will encompass new state-of-the-art early learning, preschool and school programs; clinical services such as diagnostics and assessment, therapy and cochlear implant services; as well as RIDBC Renwick Centre research, education and professional development programs.
  • Relocating our head offices, services and support functions to the Macquarie University precinct in North Ryde, providing us the opportunity to co-locate and integrate with other leading organisations in the sensory field, and investigating sale opportunities for RIDBC’s North Rocks site.
  • Maintaining our focus on performance, efficiency and viability to ensure RIDBC’s long term sustainability and growth.

Elements of the plan will roll out progressively over the next 3 – 5 years, and we will ensure all current and future children, adults, families and professionals who receive services from RIDBC, as well as our many volunteers, donors and supporters, are kept informed and updated.

The fundamentals of RIDBC’s strategic intent can also be found on our website ridbc.org.au/strategy.

4. Celebrating 40 years of fundraising

In November 2015, the Qantas Pathfinders Revue celebrated its 40th anniversary. Over five nights, the volunteer cast and crew, who are Qantas flight attendants, pilots and ground staff in their day jobs, dazzled the audience with their singing, dancing and acting talents to a sell out crowd of 2,650 guests. 

Formed in 1967, Qantas Pathfinders is a voluntary fundraising committee that was formed to raise funds solely for RIDBC, and is generously supported by Qantas Airways Limited. This extraordinary partnership has raised over $7 million for RIDBC.

"Fittingly titled, '40 and Fabulous', this year's show was an extraordinary trip down memory lane," said RIDBC Chief Executive, Chris Rehn.

"My hat goes off to the hundreds of cast and crew who have contributed to the Revue over the years – your energy, sense of humour and willingness to give us a little insight into what goes on behind closed doors at Qantas has not only been a lot of fun, but has contributed greatly to the work of RIDBC."

Kylie Reynolds, talented Qantas Flight Attendant, did a remarkable job producing this year’s Revue programme.

“It was an amazing experience putting together the programme – meeting past revue icons and learning all about the Revue’s history.  After eight years with the revue, I’m still here and loving it!" said Kylie. 

"Revue has truly been one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I feel blessed to share it with some amazingly talented people."

2015 was another record year for the Revue, raising $157,994 for the children and adults supported by RIDBC. The show has become the must see event of the year for Qantas staff and the substantial and growing audience from outside the flying world who love coming back year after year.

Join us next year for even more mayhem and laughter, Tuesday 11 to Saturday 15 October 2016.

To see photos, stories and keep up to date when tickets go on sale, visit the Qantas Pathfinders Revue Facebook page – facebook.com/QantasPathfindersRevue 

5. Lucy is exceeding all expectations

Diagnosed with vision loss and a syndrome so rare that it doesn't yet have a name, Lucy is now coming along in leaps and bounds with expert early intervention from RIDBC.

Lucy has microphthalmia, a very small right eye, which has no vision. At three months of age she started receiving support from RIDBC Early Learning Program (Vision Impairment).

"Until we began accessing RIDBC's services we didn’t know that Lucy’s left eye – which looks normal – didn’t really have any vision either," said Lucy's mum, Laura.

"Our sessions with RIDBC were amazing. Lucy just came along in leaps and bounds. 

We learned so many important things that seemed simple but were so essential – like using high contrast black and white pictures to stimulate Lucy's vision and to position her with the light behind her to optimise her sight."

Now Lucy is two and a half years old and exceeding all expectations.

"Support from an early age really has been key," said Laura. "Our RIDBC Consultant, Vicky O'Rourke, has been amazing. She pushes Lucy and pushes me to push Lucy. That has really seen her thrive." 

"Now Lucy knows the alphabet and can recognise numbers one to ten even if they are out of order! We're currently working on her identifying objects that are the same colour but a different shape. This is stretching her to use her vision, not just her hands, to find the information she needs."

Laura is hopeful for the future.

"We don't yet know what the future holds for Lucy or what her vision will do, but she is a real extrovert. She just loves people, she loves getting out and about!" said Laura. 

"I just want the best for her – to encourage her to do as much as she can. I definitely hope that she will be able to go to a mainstream school. We have so much hope for her now. I have this little girl with a fighting spirit who won't let anything hold her back." 

6. Fundraise for RIDBC

Book, Toy and Music Fair
8 – 10 April: Join us for another amazing fair, 1000s of books, toys and games, stalls, BBQ’s, home baked treats and lots of kids' activities.

Run for RIDBC!

Newcastle's Festival of Running 3 – 6 April newrun.com.au

Canberra Times Australian Running Festival 9 – 10 April runningfestival.com.au

City2Surf 14 August – Join us and team RIDBC at the 2016 City2Surf ridbc.org.au/city2surf

Sydney Running Festival 20 September – Bradfield Park, Milsons Point ridbc.org.au/runningfest

For more information on how to participate in events and fundraise for RIDBC visit ridbc.org.au/events

Entertainment Books

Order and pay for your 2016/2017 Entertainment Book before April and receive additional discount vouchers!

To order your copy email orders@ridbc.org.au or call 1800 043 411. You can also order and pay securely online: ridbc.org.au/entertainmentbooks