December: Libby Harricks Memorial Oration

Since the first Libby Harricks Memorial Oration in 1999, the series has featured distinguished speakers from around the world and gained international recognition for its exceptional presentations.

The series is an annual event that serves as a tribute to the memory of the first President of Deafness Forum Australia, the remarkable Libby Harricks.



The 2023 Oration will be presented by Professor Jim Patrick AO, Chief Scientist, Professor Emeritus, Cochlear.

Jim Patrick is a world authority on cochlear implants. Together with Professor Graeme Clark, he is one of the original team who pioneered the development of the multi-channel cochlear implant.

  • 6:00 pm Tuesday 5 December at Cochlear Headquarters, Macquarie University precinct, Sydney.
  • Free entry. Drinks & nibbles. Captions and Auslan interpreters will be provided.
  • Free parking – information here.
  • You can register here.

More About Jim.

Jim Patrick joined Professor Clark’s research team at Melbourne University in 1975. With training in physics and communications engineering, and an interest in how electrical stimulation might be used to help people hear, he led the successful development of ‘UMDOLEE’, the 10-channel cochlear implant developed by the university’s Departments of Otolaryngology and Electrical Engineering.

When the UMDOLEE proof of concept generated Commonwealth Government support for commercial development in 1981, Jim moved to Sydney as a member of the Cochlear ‘Tiger Team’ established by Paul Trainor inside the Nucleus group, to develop a ‘clinically applicable’ cochlear implant. Jim was responsible for systems engineering and the digital aspects of the implantable stimulator, playing a key leadership role in the development of the commercial medical implant.

From 1981 to 2016 Jim was a member of Cochlear’s senior management team, holding a number of technology management roles, including responsibility for R&D, Quality and Manufacturing. He was recently responsible for Cochlear’s global research programme, exploring how novel forms of signal processing can improve the performance of the cochlear implant and how advances in biology and electro-neural interfaces can be applied to future implant designs.

Jim has also been involved in several projects that seek to use Cochlear technology in other medical bionics fields. These include the treatment of spinal cord injuries, the use of an implanted stimulator to provide sensory feedback for people using artificial hands and the use of an implanted stimulator to provide ‘pacing’ vestibular stimulation to relieve Menieres symptoms.

Jim has been a member of the Advisory Boards to many Institutions, with current appointments to The Shepherd Centre Research Advisory Committee, the Mirage 3.4d Board and the Carbon Cybernetics Board.

Jim retired from Cochlear in December 2016 but continues to contribute in an Emeritus role.

Jim has received significant recognition and awards during his career:

  • Named in the 2007 ‘Australia’s Most Influential Engineers’ for Engineering Expertise
  • Honoured by the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children by their naming of the ‘Jim Patrick Audiology Centre’ and by the Australian Hearing Hub by their naming of ‘The Patrick Meeting Roo
  • Named ‘Engineering Icon for the Cochlear Implant’ by The Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering
  • Won the 2014 David Dewhurst Award for Biomedical Engineering
  • In 2015, received the ATSE Clunies Ross Lifetime Achievement Award for the application of science and technology for the benefit of Australia
  • In 2015, received the Order of Australia for distinguished service to science through the development of Cochlear implant technology, to biomedical research and engineering innovation, and to education and professional associations
  • In 2017, received the Samuel F. Lybarger Award for Achievements in Industry by the American Academy of Audiology
  • In 2020, was awarded the Officers Cross of the Order of Merit by the Republic of Poland
  • In 2021 he was named the NSW Scientist of the Year

Jim is named as an inventor on 37 families of patents. He has been invited to present at numerous conferences on topics associated with cochlear implants and has contributed to 11 book chapters and 44 peer-reviewed papers.


Orations by year

Listening to the Future – Is Prevention Better than Cure?

(2022) Dr 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. Click to download Prof David McAlpine’s 23rd Libby Harricks Memorial Oration presentation.

Indigenous Ear and Hearing Health — Tackling the Silent Epidemic

(2021) Professor Harvey Coates AO presented the 2021 Libby Harricks Memorial Oration in a webcast in March from Perth in Western Australia. Watch the presentation here.

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 Australia established the annual Libby Harricks Memorial Oration Series to honour her achievements.