Libby Harricks Memorial Oration

A Deafness Forum Australia premium event.

Listening to the Future – Is Prevention Better than Cure?

Dr David McAlpine gave the 23rd Libby Harricks Memorial Oration in Sydney on 11 October 2022.

David McAlpine is Distinguished Professor of Hearing, Language & The Brain, the Department of Linguistics, and Academic Director of Macquarie University Hearing, Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences at The Australian Hearing Hub, Macquarie University in Sydney Australia.

Trained as a neuroscientist, his leadership roles supporting the development of research into hearing and deafness and the translation of research into benefits for those with hearing problems informs his view that engaging with individuals and communities through all sorts of avenues – conversations, media, and the arts, is key to securing hearing health and positive listening futures for all.

Since 1999, the Libby Harricks Memorial Oration series has featured the world’s leading academics, researchers, policymakers, advocates, and commentators. It raises awareness of issues of hearing health, deafness, and ear and balance disorders.

David McAlpine’s oration was presented by the Deafness Forum Australia and Hearing Australia, celebrating 75 years of service, expert hearing care and innovation to the nation. For 75 years, Hearing Australia has provided world-leading research and hearing services for the wellbeing of all Australians. Hearing Australia cares for thousands of children, adults, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, pensioners and veterans every week in our cities, regional centres and some of the most remote parts of our nation.

Click to download Prof David McAlpine’s 23rd Libby Harricks Memorial Oration.


The Libby Harricks Memorial Oration series honours the memory of the first President of the Deafness Forum Australia. For her work on behalf of hearing-impaired people, Libby Harricks was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1990. Scroll to the bottom of this page to read more about the remarkable Libby Harricks.


Orations by year

Indigenous Ear and Hearing Health — Tackling the Silent Epidemic

(2021) The legendary Professor Harvey Coates AO presented the 2021 Libby Harricks Memorial Oration in a webcast in March from Perth in Western Australia. Watch either of the videos. Open Captioned version, or Auslan version.

The COVID-19 health pandemic caused the cancellation of the Oration in 2020.

Global Hearing Health: challenges and opportunities >>

(2019) Professor Andrew Smith’s presentation to the Indigenous Hearing Health Symposium, Australian Hearing Hub, Sydney.

Sisters are doin’ it for themselves >>

(2018) Dr Graeme Innes AM at the 23rd Audiology Australia National Conference, Sydney.

Hearing and Mind: What should we do about hearing loss to promote cognitive wellbeing in older age? >>

(2017) Piers Dawes’ presentation to the 17th Alzheimer’s Australia Biennial National Dementia Conference, Melbourne.

18th Libby Harricks Memorial Oration by former Prime Minister John Howard >>

(2016) The Honourable John Howard OM AC, 25th Prime Minister of Australia presented the Oration at the 9th National Deafness Summit, Sydney.

Towards a new model for the deaf inclusion of leadership in early hearing detection and intervention services >>

(2015) Dr Christine Yoshinago-Itano (8th Australasian Newborn Hearing Screening Conference, Sydney)

Making connections >>

(2014) Prof Susan Brumby (XXXII World Audiology Congress, Brisbane)

The consequences of being born Deaf in the 21st Century >>

(2013) Dr Laurie S Eisenberg (Australian Hearing Hub Inaugural Conference, Sydney)

A report card on the social wellbeing of Deaf and hearing-impaired people in Australia >>

(2012) Dr Anthony Hogan (7th National Deafness Sector Summit, Melbourne)

Molecules, managers or mentors: how can we minimise noise damage in the workplace >>

(2011) Dr Robert Patuzzi (11th National Rural Health Conference, Perth)

Early identification of hearing impairment in Australia: Well begun is not all done >>

(2010) Professor Greg Leigh (6th National Deafness Sector Summit, Sydney)

The bionic ear: from an idea to reality >>

(2009) Professor Graeme Clark AC(General Practice Continuing Education conference, Sydney)

Access, equity and hearing loss in Australia in 2008 >>

(2008) Professor Bob Cowan (5th National Deafness Sector Summit, Canberra)

Hearing and communication: a primary concern in aged care >>

(2007) Richard Osborn (9th Rural Health Conference, Albury NSW)

Hearing Loss: the silent epidemic. Who, why, impact and what can we do about it >>

(2006) Professor Harvey Dillon (4th National Deafness Sector Summit, Perth)

Deafness and disability transformed: an empowering personal context >>

(2005) Alex Jones (Blue Mountains conference, NSW)

A sorry business: lack of progress in Aboriginal hearing health >>

(2004) Dr Peter Carter (3rd National Deafness Sector Summit, Brisbane)

Disability law and people with hearing loss: we’ve come a long way but not there yet >>

(2003) Donna Lee Sorkin (Macquarie University, Sydney)

The prevalence, risk factors and impacts of hearing impairment in an older Australian community >>

(2002) Professor Paul Mitchell (XXVI International Conference of Audiology, Melbourne)

The politics of deafness >>

(2001) Senator the Honorable Margaret Reid (National Press Club, Canberra)

Recent advances in the understanding of Meniere’s disease and tinnitus >>

(2000) Professor William P R Gibson AM (International Federation of Hard of Hearing Conference, Sydney)

Inaugural Libby Harricks Memorial Oration

(1999) Professor Di Yerbury AM (Sydney)


About Libby

The exceptional Libby Harricks, who, in spite of progressive hearing loss, accomplished so much in her advocacy for deaf and hearing impaired people, brings to mind Nelson Mandela’s statement:

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

Libby Harricks grew up with apparently normal hearing. Subsequently, as a young wife and mother, she developed a profound hearing loss. She quickly educated herself with skills to manage her own hearing difficulties and soon became committed to advocating for all hearing impaired people.

Libby was the inaugural Chairperson of Deafness Forum of Australia. In all of these purely voluntary roles, she worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the need for equal inclusion in life activities for hearing impaired people, even travelling widely throughout Australia to lobby for this on their behalf. In recognition of her advocacy work, Libby was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1990.

After her death in 1998, Deafness Forum of Australia established the annual Libby Harricks Memorial Oration Series to honour her achievements. The Series aims to continue her vision of working towards gaining appropriate recognition, awareness, and access, for hearing impaired people. Over the years, Orations have been presented across Australia, and the Oration series has developed a well-deserved reputation for carrying forward Libby’s commitment to raising awareness of issues relating to hearing impairment.

Dr Jenny Rosen, past chairperson of the Libby Harricks Memorial Oration Committee, Deafness Forum of Australia.