Lachlan Shire Mayor John Medcalf OAM presented 2023 Lachlan Shire Australia Day Ambassador Carolyn Mee, with an Amabassador Pin. Image Credit: Kathy Parnaby.

CAROLYN MEE HONOURED TO BE A LACHLAN SHIRE AUSTRALIA DAY AMBASSADOR

Each year, Australia Day Ambassadors participate in Australia Day activities around NSW, sharing meaningful stories and connecting with communities – and this year Carolyn Mee, did exactly that across the Lachlan Shire.
She urged the local community on Australia Day to Reflect, Respect and Celebrate the Australian spirit and diversity.
Carolyn joined with Lachlan Shire Mayor John Medcalf OAM to present the 2023 Lachlan Shire Australia Day Awards at the SRA Pavilion on 26 January.
In 2011 Carolyn Mee set her sights on improving children’s hearing screening. Collaborating with the National Acoustic Laboratories, the research arm of Hearing Australia, Sound Scouts was created.
In 2015 Sound Scouts was awarded a NSW Medical Devices Fund Grant enabling its continued development and commercialisation. In 2018 the Department of Health signed an Agreement to ensure Sound Scouts was freely available to all Australian schoolchildren.
Carolyn has received numerous awards for her innovative achievements including winning the 2020 Women in Digital, Innovator of the Year Award and the 2019 Digital Health Award at the Impact Pediatric Health Competition in Austin, Texas.
Following is Carolyn’s speech that she read at the Australia Day Awards Ceremony in full.
“Thank you. I’m honoured to be here with you, in the Lachlan Shire to help celebrate the achievements of the local residents and to celebrate those who will become Australian citizens on this special day.
“I’d like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet, the Wiradjuri people (‘people of the three rivers’), and I pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.
“I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the enduring impact of past policies and laws and poor decisions that have impacted the local Aboriginal community. I hope we do better now and in the future.
“To the folks of the Lachlan Shire, I welcome the opportunity to visit this beautiful country and learn more about your community.
“I’d like to acknowledge Lachlan Shire Mayor, Councillor John Medcalf, OAM, and his wife Jane, whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and speaking to about those being honoured today.
“I’d also like to acknowledge the Honourable Sam Farraway, MLC, Minister for Regional Transport and Roads along with Lachlan Shire Councillors and Greg Tory the Lachlan Shire General Manager.
“I read that the “Gugaa” – Goanna – is the totem for the Wiradjuri Nation. I believe it’s a symbol that connects all people, past and present, of Wiradjuri land. I hope that we can all connect here today under the totem of the Gugaa.
“Reflect, Respect and Celebrate are the keys to today celebrations.
“Australia Day is a day to reflect on our history and learn both from our mistakes and our successes. We should Respect each other; be open to the views, values and beliefs of others. And finally let’s celebrate – celebrate our strengths, celebrate our differences and celebrate our joint good fortune of living in this beautiful country. And of course, we’ll be celebrating those receiving Awards today.
“Now, the last time I wrote a speech it was to honour the life of my father, Joseph Mee, who died in September last year. While it was a sad time dad was 90years old and he’d lived a long and adventurous life. As I considered what to include in my speech, I’ve taken inspiration from my father who I believe embodied the Aussie Spirit that brings us together today.
“Dad worked hard and he played hard.
“Like many Australians Dad loved a yarn, which would often frustrate mum when she was waiting for a him to finish a job. There were quite a few jobs Dad never finished! Dad could strike up a conversation with anyone, from a banker to a bricklayer just like himself, he’d dive straight into a heartfelt, informed discussion, always open to listening and learning. Dad and I would regularly have what we coined ‘political debates’. Dad laid down the challenge that if I could educate him on the merits of my point there was the potential for him to change his mind. This was such a great skill to learn growing up and I’ve tried to honour it in my adult life….be open to listen and learn and change minds with information.
“Dad was born in Coraki, country NSW. Coraki and Lachlan Shire have both experienced the ravages of flooding in recent times. I know the people of Coraki like my dad are made of tough stuff and I’ve no doubt that those of you here today have some stories to tell about the challenges you’ve faced. I hope there’s respite in the coming months and that there’s an upside to the recent hardships. I’m not sure your collective resilience can be put to any greater tests than those you’ve been subjected to in recent times BUT such is the nature of us Aussies that we do dust ourselves off, smile, tell an inappropriate joke and dive headfirst into the next challenge.
“As a city girl I’d like to acknowledge the contributions those in regional areas make to keeping us clothed and fed! I know agriculture is an important part of local industry and quite frankly we couldn’t manage without you. So thanks!
“While my dad loved a yarn he was also no stranger to hard work, a trait he gained from his parents and handed down to his kids. Dad worked hard for his family to ensure we had the opportunity to gain an education and to get ahead. I was privileged to have the opportunities I had, and so there came a time in my life when it felt right to try and give back and that’s when I committed to developing Sound Scouts.
“For those of you who don’t know about me, and I expect that’s most of you, for the past 12 years I’ve dedicated myself to developing a solution to reduce the number of children with undetected hearing loss.
“Hearing loss if it goes unnoticed can impact a child’s speech, their reading, learning and behaviour and their ability to socialise. It’s a big problem if no one notices you have a hearing loss. BUT if we detect it, we can treat it! And that’s where Sound Scouts comes in. Sound Scouts uses technology to check children’s hearing although adults can use it too.
“Many kids in country areas, don’t have access to audiologists meaning in some areas they can wait months for their hearing loss to be confirmed and treated.
“I was pretty sure technology could help fix this situation and so I approached one of the best researchers in the country, Professor Harvey Dillon, and found a great developer Cuauh Moreno, and together we built a mobile game that identifies hearing loss.
“When I started it sounded easy, I was going to make a game! But as we all know anything worth doing is worth doing well and building Sound Scouts has proved to be a massive undertaking.
“I can’t tell you how many challenges I’ve faced, people telling me to give up, the many sacrifices I’ve made, mostly at the expense of my own family, but I’ve persevered because I know that if I don’t succeed it’s the kids who will suffer and I just can’t let that happen without giving it my all.
“Whenever we see a new school start using Sound Scouts we get excited and even more so when the school is in a regional or remote area because we know that it’s helping to meet a need that might otherwise not be met. I’m pleased to say that some of the schools in the Shire have been using the App and hopefully after my visit the number will increase.
“Sound Scouts is an app, you can download it onto your phone or a tablet and if you read the instructions and use decent headphones it will deliver a reliable check of your hearing. Around 2300 schools across the country use the app to test their students’ hearing but you can also test at home.
“Sound Scouts testing is free at the moment thanks to support we received in 2019 from the Federal Government. It’s my hope that our funding will continue so testing can remain free although I have been advised that the states really need to pick up the tab. If you would like to help support our efforts in the short term please send an email to your local member or the Health Minister Mark Butler, encouraging the Government to provide ongoing support for Sound Scouts.
“Hearing connects us to our family and our friends. Hearing also enables us to connect with our community and our community is so important. As you know from recent times community can be the difference between life and death.
“Whether it’s knowing your community members so you can support and care for them on a daily basis, or whether it’s rallying together in times of need like the recent floods, community is at the heart of this country.
“It’s been great to learn about some of the community projects that happen in the Shire, the Waste 2 Art competition sounds fantastic. I’m a lover of art and I’ve heard this competition attracts some fantastic entries.
“It’s also great to learn about the Wiradjuri Study Centre and the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Study. The indigenous culture of Australia is so precious, so fascinating and offers so many insights into how we can protect and manage our country into the future. Any initiatives to listen and learn, to respect and better understand the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage should be embraced.
“I understand there’s been an impressive field of nominees this year for the Australia Day Awards, and I’d like to congratulate all those who have received a nomination, it’s a great achievement to be nominated and you should all be incredibly proud.
“Finally, congratulations to those becoming Australian’s citizens today. Enjoy the day and I wish you all the very best for the future.
“If I can leave you with on final thought…. looking back at the journey I’ve been on to create Sound Scouts, if I knew in advance I may never have started, because it’s been a long journey, a high mountain to climb. But if you want to create change, you need to take one step at a time, put one foot in front of the other, keep it up and before you know it, you’ll find yourself at the top! “Before I finish, I encourage you all to take some photos today. The Australia Day Photography Competition is looking for images from the community that show how you reflect, respect and celebrate – your way. Three finalists from each state and territory will be selected with the national winner chosen by the National Australia Day Board. There are cash prizes to be won. Visit australiaday.org.au”

Last Updated: 08/02/2023By

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