Popular soap opera Neighbours has catapulted hearing loss into the spotlight with their newest storyline. Kirsha, youngest daughter of the Rebecchi family, experienced sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) as well as visual disturbance and minor burns when a firework went off close to her ears. It is wonderful to see such an important issue being addressed on Australian screens, especially on a show like Neighbours, which is seen to represent somewhat typical Australian lives.
DCA Information Services Coordinator Alana Doyle worked with Neighbours to help prepare the actors and to provide guidance on becoming deaf and the complex feelings that can arise from a sudden diagnosis.
Alana says, “I lost my hearing at thirteen, just as Kirsha has, so it was great to have the opportunity to pass my experiences on and to see those experiences help to educate others through Kirsha’s story.
“I was expecting to chat with the actor who plays Kirsha and her on-screen parents, but the whole family ended up being involved, as well as the director and producer. It was a wonderful experience – we talked about the emotions experienced post-diagnosis, different roles family members might play when someone is diagnosed with a hearing loss, and many of the silly everyday things that happen – startling easily, talking too loudly and the dreaded “never mind” response.
Hearing loss can bring up a lot of complex emotions and involve grief for the deaf persion and their family, and seeing the cast members so dedicated to their roles in conveying the experiences was amazing. Seeing them play an empowered, connected family supporting their daughter who has just experienced a hearing loss will be inspiring for so many families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing.”
We look forward to watching Kirsha’s story unfold. Tune into Neighbours at 6.30 each night on Eleven (captioned), or catch up on episodes at tenplay.com.au (no subtitles available).