Our people

The board of Deafness Forum of Australia sets the direction and policy on key issues, based on the consensus of our members. It ensures the organisation is focused on its purpose and strategic objectives, and manages its resources efficiently and effectively for the future.

The composition of the Board reflects the broad nature of the deafness sector. The directors’ various life experiences and professional expertise, coupled with the Deafness Forum’s activities and consultative processes, ensure the organisation has the authority to respond to key issues common to the entire deafness sector.

Board members comply with a Code of Conduct & Ethics.

Deafness Forum chairpersons since its inception in 1993

  • Libby Harricks AM
  • Dereck Ward
  • Cath Bonnes AM
  • Stan Batson
  • Margaret Roberston
  • Alex Jones
  • David Brady

The Executive in 2018

David Brady, chairperson

David Brady

Nominee of SHHH Australia

David was born with a profound hearing loss and wears two hearing aids. He was raised in Armidale, NSW and remains a passionate New Englander. He has a Master of Science and Graduate Diploma in Project Management. He is the chief executive of Hear For You, a not for profit national organisation in the deafness sector that provides mentoring programs for deaf teenagers.
David is a passionate sportsman. He represented Australia at the 2005 Deaflympic Games in Water Polo and coached in mainstream sports at the representative level.
David is the organisation’s 7th Chairperson, and is the national public voice for the deafness sector.

Beatrice Tarnawski, vice chair

Beatrice Tarnawski

Nominee of Whirled Foundation

Beatrice was diagnosed in 2007 with the ear disorder Ménière’s Disease. She has unilateral hearing loss, tinnitus and vestibular damage, so in addition to hearing impairment Beatrice is challenged by an ever present sensation of disequilibrium. It is this balance dysfunction and associated symptoms that she most wishes to highlight as she represents ear disorders on the executive board.
Beatrice is a committee member of Whirled Foundation (formerly Ménière’s Australia), a non-profit NGO that supports people living with Ménière’s Disease and other vestibular conditions. Her main role has been the implementation of social media and assistance with communications.
Beatrice has worked in advertising creative for Saatchi & Saatchi, Y&R, McCann Erikson and DDB.

Michelle Courts

Michelle Courts

Nominee of Tinnitus South Australia

Michelle is a mother of two sons, one of whom experienced unilateral hearing loss at the age of seven.
A Registered Nurse, Michelle holds a Master & Bachelor of Nursing and a Diploma in Management. She specialised in Paediatric and Community nursing, with a sound understanding of the disability sector and the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. She has worked in community aged care, specialising in supporting individuals at home with health and social engagement taking a social view of health and welfare. She is an employee of TAFE South Australia and a member of the Australian Hearing Paediatric Advisory Committee. Michelle is a member of Deafness Forum’s Australasian Newborn Hearing Screening Committee. She is passionate about improving the lived experience of individuals by identifying and focusing on abilities while minimising limitations.

Alexander Phillips

Alexander Phillips

Nominee of Cicada Australia

Alexander was born profoundly deaf. With little success with powerful hearing aids, he received a Cochlear Implant at three and a half years of age.
The success of his Cochlear Implant enabled him to attend mainstream schooling and university where he completed a bachelor and master’s degree in Economics, Finance and Accounting. The journey was not without its challenges. He experienced a difficult time with social inclusion and teachers who lacked understanding of the impact of hearing impairment on access to education.
Alexander is determined to ensure that deaf and hearing impaired people are empowered to achieve their potential and enjoy the same quality of life afforded to hearing people. His first opportunity to contribute to this goal was the co-founding a youth mentoring group with three other hearing impaired people known as WHISPA (Web of Hearing Impaired Students and Peer Alliance). He maintains his enthusiasm for promoting full access and equal opportunity for young deaf people.

He works for an accounting firm specialising in insolvency. In 2016 his service to Deafness Forum was recognised in the Commonwealth Bank Awards to Treasurers in the not for profit sector.

Jordanna Smith

Jordanna Smith

Nominee of the Deaf Society

Jordanna was born in USA. Diagnosed as profoundly deaf at one year old, she was then mainstreamed full time and used American Sign Language as her main mode of communication.
After completing her Bachelors of Science in Psychology, she decided to make the move to Australia. She then transitioned from American Sign Language to Auslan.
She currently works as Coordinator for the Employment Service department at The Deaf Society supporting deaf and hard of hearing clients achieve and keep employment.
Jordanna is a recently new mother to a child with bilateral cochlear implants, prioviding her daughter with access to Auslan as well as speech.
She has served on the board for Deaf Australia NSW as board director and president.

Anthony Whelan

Anthony Whelan

Nominee of Better Hearing Australia (National)

Tony is the National President of Better Hearing Australia (BHA), a not-for-profit organisation providing information, advocacy and support for people with hearing loss.

With a professional background in psychology, Tony has more than two decades’ experience in human services in such diverse areas as youth, justice, housing & homelessness, refugee settlement and disability.

He enjoys running the occasional marathon and is training for the Boston Marathon in 2019.