Board of Directors and CEO

Three CEOs shaped Deafness Forum over three decades: Brian Rope OAM (left), Nicole Lawder MLA and current CEO Steve Williamson.

Steve Williamson, chief executive.

Steve’s job is to represent Deafness Forum in the:

  • World Hearing Forum, a group within the World Health Organization (aka WHO)
  • the editorial committee of the WHO publication, “News from the World Hearing Forum”
  • World Hearing Day Small Grants Program reviewer for the Coalition for Global Hearing Health Board and Conference Committee.
  • International Federation of Hard of Hearing People
  • Australian Government Department of Health & Aged Care Diversity Consultative Committee
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme CEO Forum
  • Australian Federation of Disability Organisations.

He was one of the architects of the Commonwealth Government Roadmap for Hearing Health for Australia.

Before joining the Deafness Forum in 2012, Steve headed corporate relations and marketing for the peak bodies representing the road freight sector and the engineering profession; and was government liaison for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation TV Marketing. He was a journalist and presenter for the ABC, and co-winner of a United Nations Association of Australia Media Peace Award. Steve has also worked as a supermarket shelf-stacker, a brickworks labourer, cross-country ski instructor, and has been a long-serving volunteer for Vinnies.

Get in touch with Steve using this contact form.

The board of Deafness Forum Australia, elected by and representing a national membership of individuals and organisations, sets the direction and policy on key issues.

The board ensures that Deafness Forum 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.

The Executive in 2024

David Brady, chairperson

David joined the board in 2011 and was first elected chairperson in 2012.

David was the Chief Executive Officer of Hear For You from 2013 to 2021. He then oversaw the integration of Hear For You into The Shepherd Centre, providing an award-winning program for teenagers to complete the childhood development framework.

Prior to this, he worked in the Sports and Recreation management industry for 15 years,

David has ample experience to share, including his insights into living with hearing loss. Profoundly deaf since birth, David grew up in rural Armidale, NSW, where he overcame many challenges to complete the HSC and gain degrees from both University of NSW and the University of Sheffield in the UK.

A keen sportsman, David represented Australia at the 2005 Deaflympic Games in Melbourne and played state-level Water Polo, Hockey, and Beach Volleyball.

David is the current Chairperson of Deafness Forum Australia, member of the Advisory Board for Macquarie University Centre for the Implementation for Hearing Research, and was one of the architects of the Commonwealth Government Roadmap for Hearing Health for Australia.

Michelle Courts, vice chair

Michelle became a director of the Deafness Forum in 2014.

She is a parent 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.

Michelle represents Deafness Forum on the Australasian Newborn Hearing Screening Committee.

Catherine Morgan, director

Catherine was elected to the board in 2022.

She is a passionate audiologist with more than 15 years’ experience encompassing clinical practice with hearing impaired children and adults, clinical evidence generation for hearing technology innovations.

Catherine is Head of Quality, Regulatory & Legal for Nuheara, a company headquartered in Perth that has developed proprietary and multi-functional intelligent hearing technology that augments a person’s hearing and facilitates cable-free connection to smart devices.

“I have worked in range of industries within health operating in highly regulated areas, both for-profit listed and not-for-profit organisations, I have an appreciation for the requirements associated within each, specifically, a high number of stakeholders, policy frameworks, long-term strategic thinking and analysis and integrity.”

Rhonda Locke, director

Rhonda joined the board of Deafness Forum at the 2020 Annual General Meeting to represent the views of people with ear and balance disorders.

She is the Director of a commercial marketing agency and has consulted to government and industry on strategies to increase company, product and personal brand equity, establish and reposition brands, launch new products, increase market share and grow digital and social media influence.

She has lived with Meniere’s for 20 years.


Dwin Tucker AM, director and treasurer

Dwin joined the board in 2020.

He has been a CEO of eight organisations from large to small, especially bringing financial, strategy and technology background to the roles. He has also been a director and chair of many other organisations including his current role as Vice President of Medecins Sans Frontieres Australia.

He funds two annual prizes for best HSC student in NSW with a hearing impairment and best tertiary paper in the field of hearing research.

Dwin has a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Commerce, Master of Business and FAICD.

He became involved in the deafness community first when working as an Interim CEO of the Australian Communications Exchange which then ran Australia’s National Relay Services. He subsequently became an owner of Clearasound which is the supplier and servicer of TTYs and a leading installer of hearing loops and school hearing systems.

Dwin received an award in the General Division of the Order of Australia in The King’s Birthday 2023 Honours List for his significant service to community health, and to the technology sector.

Raelene Walker, vice chair

Rae Walker joined the board in 2018.

She is a career STEM educator with extensive experience teaching in Secondary and University education, including work as an academic specialist and pastoral care support teacher of the deaf.

Rae was born hearing but an illness left her profoundly deaf as an adult. She also suffers from severe tinnitus and episodic vertigo.

She has a Degree in Education – Science/Math Specialist, Diplomas in Human Resource Management, and Auslan, and is currently enrolled in a Master of Education at the University of Western Australia.

Her particular interests as a Director of Deafness Forum are inclusive education, mental health and access to services.

Barry MacKinnon AM, director

Barry became a director of the Deafness Forum in 2022.

He has been actively working on behalf of Deaf and hearing-impaired people for more than 30 years. He was a key figure in the establishment of an organisation called ‘Parents United to Support Hearing Impaired Children’. He was until recently the President of the Deafness Council, and also a chair of the state’s Disability Services Commission. He provides advice, guidance, and policy suggestions to various Deafness Forum policy papers and positions to the Commonwealth Government.

He was the state leader of the Liberal Party (and thus Leader of the Opposition) from 1986 to 1992. He had earlier served as a minister in the governments of Sir Charles Court and Ray O’Connor. He worked as an accountant before entering politics.

In 1997 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to people with hearing impairment. He also received a Centenary Medal in 2001. He is an Hon. Life Member of Deafness Forum Australia.