Bronwyn Rout

Executive Messages - Chair of the Board


October 2020 will serve as the end of my tenure on the board of Deaf Services, which began in 2011 and which has included my time as Chair of the Board since November 2018.

It has been an honour to be Chair of the Board of Deaf Services during this incredibly exciting time for our organisation.

A new organisation was officially born on 1 October 2020, bringing together two of the country’s oldest and most recognised Deaf support organisations: Deaf Services and the Deaf Society.

What this means, in the big picture, is the creation of Australia’s largest and most comprehensive whole-of-life service provider for Deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind Australians.

For my final address to the membership, I have been considering how far the organisation has come in the nine years I have been on the board.

Nine years ago, Deaf Services Queensland (as we were then known) was a community organisation with a strong vision, but that organisation is nearly unrecognisable from the Deaf Services I now see.

This period–and the past five years in particular—has taken us beyond a community not-for-profit, and has cemented us as one of the country’s most influential national organisations, not just in the Deaf and hard of hearing community, but among NDIS providers and disability advocates.

This has developed through a consistent focus on growth, good governance, and an unwavering commitment to understanding and delivering the programs and services our community needs.

To succeed in an NDIS business environment, we could not maintain the status quo. We had to stand with the Deaf community and tailor services that met their needs, at every stage of their lives .

Over the past few years we have introduced several new programs and services to allow every member of our community to be empowered, connected and achieving, including the development of the Auslan Connections interpreting service, our expansion into children’s therapies and aged care, and the establishment of our Registered Training Organisation, Access Training and Education.

These services were developed alongside existing support and advocacy programs such as Lifestyle Support Services and commUNITY, both of which have adapted so they can survive and thrive under the NDIS.

Finally, through the ongoing success of our Art Union, The Deaf Lottery, we have been able to support this period of growth by providing additional funding to each of these new service offerings during their establishment periods.

This financial year we have continued our legacy of evolution, despite COVID-19 and the worldwide disruption to traditional working. We have indeed innovated further, pivoting our service delivery models, keeping our community informed and safe, all while adopting new ways of working.

During my time on the board, the scope of our organisation has become larger and our merger with the Deaf Society will expand this scope further still. Despite this, our experience over the past nine years and throughout the merger period has shown me that this organisation will forever retain our community heart, born from our history as a community organisation.

It is through the work of our amazing staff and their dedication to the community that we have become a large-scale organisation which still treats our customers as our first priority, and respects and honours our community and its history.

I have been immeasurably proud to have been involved with Deaf Services for the past nine years.

Throughout this time, I have had the privilege to develop a deeper appreciation for Deaf culture, history, language and community and have made many lifelong friends.

I have the pleasure of leaving Deaf Services on a real high, and I will watch with interest as the merged organisation delivers for all Australians.

I’d also like to extend a big thank you to the rest of the board, it has been a pleasure to work alongside you all.