Catherine Bonnes AM
The new premises of the BH and District Hearing Resource Centre was officially opened yesterday. Mayor Wincen Cuy and the NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Dr Andrew McDonald, formally opened the Centre with both volunteers and members of the community attending.
The centre is now in its 25th year, and has been located at several sites during that time. Members met in various homes and on the odd occasion in the YMCA building in the late 80s. City Council then loaned the group the former Railwaytown Post Office. It was later located at the Burke Ward School hall before moving to the current premises at 187 - 189 Argent Street. Mayor Cuy addressed the crowd at noon, saying he was very grateful for the Centre’s contribution to the community and said all had put in a “great effort”. “I also want to stand and acknowledge the amount of unpaid help ... that benefits the community and the District,” Mayor Cuy said. He said the work conducted at local schools and the volunteers’ efforts to make the Centre work was “truly fantastic”. “It’s absolutely well done.” He said it was ironic that the current location was once a radio station. Introducing Dr McDonald, the Mayor said the Centre had a strong supporter. He said Dr McDonald was somebody who actually understood the needs and the wants of the ordinary people through the eyes of a doctor. Dr McDonald said the hearing centre was “absolutely vital” to the city for two reasons. “One of the problems with hearing loss is that it’s very easy to become disengaged from general society because you can’t hear, and also you lose your confidence,” he said. “So the Hearing Centre's are very good at helping people live with hearing loss on a day to day basis.” He said the centre’s help for people with hearing aids and the screening of every primary school child in the city was an extraordinary achievement. “Most parts of Sydney would kill for it,” he said. “The benefit to the community is just extraordinary.” Hearing Centre founder Catherine Bonnes AM, who is still working well into her 90s, lost her hearing at the age of 50 and has helped fundraise every dollar to build the centre.
She was grateful to have a Member of State Parliament in the city to open the facility. “If you get the Government interested enough to come out and see you, eventually they might realise you’re worth
something and give you some money,” Ms Bonnes said. She said the service was still going because it now had a Centre for itself and because it was an essential service that locals still needed. Ms Bonnes said the volunteers had become a part of a family and “money couldn’t buy them”. The volunteers, most of whom have hearing difficulties themselves, were acknowledged with a glass trophy.
The building was named in honour of Ms Bonnes, being named Catherine Bonnes House.
Barrier Daily Truth – Saturday 2nd of October 2010
By Kurtis Eichler