From the bustle of a filmset to watching playbacks in an editing room, young filmmaker Zoe couldn’t imagine a world without sound. Having graduated from a Bachelor of Film Production in 2016, the 25-year-old currently works in the film industry – a career she’s aspired to since childhood.
“My passion for filmmaking initially came from watching a variety of TV shows and films growing up. Hopefully I will also get to work on my first big-scale film production – that’s the dream I’ve been working towards for so long. It’s hard to get into when it’s such a competitive industry, but I am excited by the many creative opportunities to come,” Zoe said.
Zoe was born profoundly deaf in both ears, however this was before universal newborn hearing screening was introduced.
“My parents didn’t know I was deaf until I was about 14 months old,” Zoe said.
“I was sitting next to an open door, and someone slammed it shut – my parents realised I didn’t flinch. They thought it was concerning, so they took me to the doctors and that’s how everybody found out,” she said.
“My mother was upset when she first heard the news, whereas my dad was concerned but calm.”
The family heard about Hear and Say via media-profile, Wally Lewis, and have been coming to Hear and Say’s Gold Coast centre ever since.
“It was through rugby league legend, Wally Lewis that my parents found out about Hear and Say, as we learnt that Wally’s daughter, Jamie-Lee was also profoundly deaf in both ears,” Zoe said.
“I wear two cochlear implants with my right side implanted when I was 16 months old, and my left side implanted in 2020 when I was 23 years old,” she said.
“I have memories of attending the official opening of the Hear and Say Gold Coast centre in 2005 – it was a great milestone for everyone, including families.
“I’ve been coming to Hear and Say for audiology appointments twice a year for most of my life, however since my second implant, I’ve also been coming in for a specialised type of speech therapy known as auditory learning.
“Currently I am working with my clinician to improve my listening experience with my second implant. This is combined with incremental programming of both the new and old implant with my audiologist, Greer which ensures I’m getting the best access to speech sounds,” Zoe said.
Zoe reflected on her hearing journey, and the difference Hear and Say has made to her life.
“I think it’s wild, seeing how far hearing technology has come. My family has embraced me for who I am, and being deaf doesn’t make me any different – in fact, a lot of people who don’t personally know me never pick up on it,” Zoe said.
“Hear and Say has made a huge difference to my life. It’s hard to imagine what my life could have been without the support of the staff and the community,” she said.
“I would not have been able to thrive in this world as I am now. I would not have found my passion for film if I wasn’t able to listen to the staggering emotion in the stories I watch. Even though I have moments of craving peace in total silence, hearing my family and friends’ voices is bliss.
“I am eternally grateful for their care and knowledge in my years of growing up. Getting implanted at a young age was the best decision my parents have ever made.
“Upkeep with my hearing takes a lot of work, but it’s worth the effort.”