Brendan began losing his hearing on the right side 15 years ago, which discovered was as a result of a growing tumour. Following surgeries to remove the tumour 13 years ago, he lost 100% of his hearing on the right side. He then began losing hearing in his left ear. He now has moderate hearing loss in his remaining ear and wears a Bi Cros hearing aid in his left ear and a Cros device in his right ear. He also uses other assistive technology to improve his ability to participate in meetings and in noisy social settings. Brendan has been a member of HMA for over a decade.
Commencing his career in the banking sector, Brendan went on to spend nearly 20 years as co-owner of a successful screen printing, garment manufacturing and music industry merchandising business before taking a “sea change” to move into the disability and community support sectors in 2001.
Brendan has spent the past 20 years working in the disability and seniors support sectors, including as Chief Executive Officer of Beehive Industries for 8 years, which is a Seniors and Disability support organisation. He also spent 6 years as Business Development Manager of Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s Australian Disability Enterprise division and 4 years as Market Development Manager for Disability Services Australia’s supported employment division. He has extensive experience working with the NDIS and the NSW Government disability and seniors support schemes.
Brendan holds a Masters of Business degree from UTS and over the last 15 years, he has given numerous guest lectures and been involved in student projects and internships with UTS and UNSW Business and Social Work students.
He is also active in the social enterprise sector supporting SECNA (Social Enterprise Council of NSW & ACT), which is the NSW/ACT peak body for the social enterprise sector.
He has also been actively dealing with food insecurity issues, setting up food relief programs in partnership with OZHarvest as well as numerous news media appearances to promote the issue.
As CEO of Beehive Industries, Brendan launched the Low Cost Meals for seniors cooking class videos with former Master Chef contestant and NSW Seniors Week ambassador, Kumar Pereira, as well as an accompanying cookbook to aid social isolation support.
Brendan is keen to leverage his business, community support sector and tertiary education sector contacts to assist with growing HMA’s support programs and membership, as well as seeking to improve funding for HMA’s support programs.
In his spare time, Brendan enjoys cheering on the Sydney Swans at the SCG, going to trash and treasure markets with his daughters and finding quiet restaurants with his wife, Elena.
Raymond Ong - Vice President
Ray was born hearing impaired using hearing aids in both ears until he was 12 years of age when his hearing impairment deteriorated. In the mid 80’s, he then became one of the first five successful candidates to participate in the Cochlear Implant program in Perth, Western Australia. He has now been a Cochlear Implant recipient for over 30 years. The cochlear implant technology has advanced so much over the years, enabling him to better manage his hearing impairment. Without the cochlear implants, he is profoundly deaf.
Ray has been helping HMA with general office administration duties, the Hearing Aid Bank, and HMA's social media as a volunteer since 16th April 2021. He also currently works in the healthcare industry. He has a strong passion in helping people so joining HMA enables him to continue his passion in a different way.
In his free time, Ray enjoys travel, astronomy, reading books, watching concerts and plays, watching movies, photography, going on hikes and drives. He also loves steam locomotives and will go out watching them, if not being a passenger.
Barry Jose - Treasurer
Barry is a retired IT Systems Analyst with extensive experience in Retail Banking, Airline Systems and Payroll, is no stranger to overcoming challenges. Despite an acquired hearing loss, Barry maintains a positive outlook and an unwavering determination to live a fulfilling life. With approximately 25% hearing loss in his left ear and 75% in his right ear (treble levels are very difficult to discern), Barry's experiences align with many individuals facing hearing difficulties in Australia.
From an early age, Barry noticed the imbalance in his hearing and the gradual deterioration of his ability to perceive higher-pitched sounds. Over time, tinnitus also became a constant companion. Despite these obstacles, Barry adapted and coped, seeking professional help for his hearing loss later in life.
After trying various hearing aids, Barry finally found a pair that offered both comfort and improved hearing. These aids reconnected him with his community, allowing him to contribute to life in ways he hadn't experienced in a long time. Subsequently, he embraced the advancements in hearing aid technology, acquiring a pair of hearing aids with Bluetooth features that enhanced his ability to adapt to different environments.
Although Barry still faces occasional challenges, he remains grateful for the positive impact of his hearing aids. He appreciates the newfound ability to engage with his surroundings and wouldn't trade his hearing aids for anything. Barry is eager to share his experiences, emphasising the importance of seeking solutions and embracing support to overcome obstacles and lead a fulfilling life, even with acquired hearing loss.
Bec Stewart - Secretary
Bec was born into a hearing-impaired family with a hearing-impaired father, older brother and extended family members. She was diagnosed with a mild hearing loss at 3 and received hearing aids at 5 years old. Due to the progressive nature of Bec’s hearing loss she received a cochlear implant at 25 years old and continues to wear a hearing aid in the other ear.
Growing up with so many hearing-impaired role models Bec developed a passion for social justice and the power of self-education in managing hearing loss. Bec was featured in an episode about deafness on the ABC TV show ‘You Can’t Ask That’ and was interviewed on Triple J about her experiences.
Bec has been working and volunteering with Hear For You in various roles since 2013, helping teenagers with hearing loss to build their confidence and develop skills to thrive in a hearing world.
Bec also assists her dad, Andrew Stewart, in his company Hearing Connections as the Communications Officer. Bec has a talent for writing about the struggles that can come with hearing loss, and recently started a blog to provide a resource for people to learn more about the challenges navigated by deaf or hearing impaired people living in a hearing world.
Christian Carter - Committee Member
HMA Committee Member Christian does not hold office bearing positions, but serve on the HMA committee assisting with all aspects of committee decisions and responsibilities. Christian was one of two children born into a hearing family with a severe-to-profound hearing loss. Both he and his younger sister get by with hearing aids and lip reading.
From an early age Christian has been a vocal advocate for social justice and has a strong interest in community building. His interest in the power of play to build connection and a sense of belonging led to a community partnership with the King Cross Markets, where – for a number of years – he ran a non-for-profit games event that brought Potts Point residents from all walks of life together to play board games for a gold coin donation. The initiative raised thousands of dollars for local homeless charities Rough Edges and the Wayside Chapel.
Professionally, Christian has worked across multiple industries in a diverse array of service and administration roles, from public relations to banking and local government. He currently owns and operates a commercial outdoor games hire business servicing private and corporate clients all over Sydney.
Christian believes in the importance of being connected to others who have a shared lived experience of disability. He’s passionate about inclusion and providing pathways for others to access suitable support to achieve their goals. In his spare time, he enjoys skateboarding, building bicycles, playing backgammon and exploring interesting new places with his two young sons.
Christine Hunter - Committee Member
Christine has lived with hearing loss since childhood, but following hearing intervention in her 30s she was able to pursue higher education followed by a successful and rewarding career in education until retiring in 2012.
Christine is an honorary Life Member of Hearing Matters Australia and served as President from 2015 -2021. She is a staunch advocate for people with hearing loss with the belief that hearing loss, when properly managed, does not need to be a barrier to people achieving their objectives, being limited in their career choices or being socially isolated.
Christine is also an adviser to Deafness Forum Australia (DFA), which she also represents on the board of the Australia Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) where she serves as Vice President & Treasurer.
Her advocacy activities have included representations to Australian federal & state government agencies and current active participation on the Transport for NSW Accessible Transport Committee (ATAC), again as Deafness Forum’s representative.
Christine continues to collaborate with international hearing organisations, hearing industry professionals, academic research programs and consumer representatives with the objectives of having hearing health recognised as a priority health issue and achieving equitable access for people with hearing loss. Her focus is on strengthening the quality of hearing care for consumers and promoting a global best practice hearing care model focused on the needs of the individual.
In other activities, Christine has been a member of Berowra Lions Club since 2010, serving as club Secretary from 2011 until 2019. In 2017 she was awarded the Lions Club International Melvin Jones Fellowship award for dedicated humanitarian services and in 2020 the Helen Keller Fellowship award in recognition of her commitment to improving life of people with hearing loss. She currently serves as Welfare Officer on the Berowra Lions Club board.
Christine is a doting grandmother and enjoys spending quality time with family and friends. She also enjoys travel, and dabbling in textile arts and crafts, especially teaching textile surface design and colouring techniques to community groups.
Simone Punch - Committee Member
Simone was born severely deaf and her experiences growing up wearing hearing aids and accessing hearing services has informed her work in the field of audiology and her personal passion for advocacy and inclusion.
Simone holds postgraduate qualifications in audiology and public health management. She has 25 years of experience in the field Audiology both in Australia and the UK. Simone has experience in adult and paediatric hearing aid fitting and rehabilitation, and clinical leadership. She has a particular interest in infant fitting and paediatric audiology and has presented on topics in this area at national and international audiology conferences and seminars.
She is Clinical Leader of paediatric audiology services at Hearing Australia. In addition to this role Simone is an adjunct lecturer for the Masters of Disability Studies degree at Macquarie University, and a member of Parents of Deaf Children (PODC)’s professional advisory panel. Simone is also a contributing member of a team providing volunteer paediatric audiology services to children in Samoa.
In her free time outside of work Simone enjoys the company of friends and family, travel, and exploring the vibrant food, visual arts, and cultural offerings within her home city of Sydney.