Become a Leader



This story was written by Lauren Hislop. Leonie and Lauren graduated from the Newcastle program and met to chat about the course and put this story together.

Leonie standing with her certificate and Minister Ajaka

Leonie’s experience in the leadership program was a positive one. She wanted to convey her perspective as a person with a hearing disability.

Leonie learnt a great deal in the course. She learnt about different cultures and people and herself. Leonie explained, "I was very interested in the people that I was working with in the course...I’ve learnt something from every single person...and that was a really good opportunity to learn for the future. I know more about people and their differences." She said that although her hearing disability made communication somewhat challenging in the course, she still encouraged people to communicate with her. This was one of her differences that she wanted other people to learn about.

Leonie speaking in Auslan to the audienceLeonie was thankful to have interpreters, however she still occasionally struggled to keep up. The language in the course was sometimes difficult to translate and there were times when people were reading and listening at the same time which she was unable to do. Leonie learnt to adapt to this new environment by requesting the information ahead of time and keeping a dictionary with her. She also learnt to speak up when discussion was moving too quickly for her interpreters. This was a learning curve for everybody and really demonstrated to Leonie the importance of deaf people being involved in courses like this and in the community at large.

She felt that the learning she received in the course supported her to take on leadership roles in other areas of her life. Prior to the course she was unsure how to connect with the deaf community but now she is building connections in leaps and bounds. She has seized a number of opportunities including; becoming a deaf liaison officer and undertaking a peer mentoring course with Community Disability Alliance Hunter (CDAH). Leonie said that when she was more confident in the peer mentoring course as a result of completing the leadership program, "I had the confidence to put my hand up and talk about things. So that’s been really good. I realized I can and do understand things and that I can make change and try new ways of doing things."

a group shot of all the Newcastle leadersLeonie taught other participants that there was a deaf community and that people with hearing disabilities have a different way of communicating. She learned how to encourage people to communicate with her. "One person found it really hard to communicate with me and then that communication started to blossom and now we have a good connection and we email each other. It was worth getting through that block."

Leonie found group work challenging at times. However after the course Leonie felt more confident in this setting. One group member who understood her explained to the other members what she was saying. Leonie said that they had "a communication collaboration. We were explaining each other to everybody else. It worked."