We want to give you some concept of the wonderful breadth and experience of Deaf Children Australia’s Board and management team so you can gain a better idea of who is helping to guide us through this period of change for our organisation and the wider disabilities sector. In the coming months, we will publish interviews with some of our new Board and staff members including Dr Kerry Ferguson.
Kerry joined the Board in 2014 and has recently been appointed to the position of Deputy Chair. Kerry has over thirty years’ experience in Tertiary Education. She is a Higher Education Consultant; Director and Principal Consultant, EduResolutions. We are fortunate to have Kerry’s insightful perspectives as we consider the way forward for Deaf Children Australia.
Kerry recently shared her motivations on why she joined Deaf Children Australia’s Board:
“Working with children, young people and their families is what I have done most of my career – through family therapy or my academic position at university. I am passionate about the transformative nature of education and feel every child and every individual should have the opportunity to have the full availability of an educational experience. I am very committed to equal opportunity and addressing disadvantage in the community – whether that is because of people’s circumstances at birth or issues that have arisen throughout their lives.
Education should not have barriers to participation. I have spent my career thinking about that. I started out as an occupational therapist and became a family therapist and then an academic, teaching those subjects at university. Later, I took on a portfolio of services for uni students who were either underrepresented or disadvantaged. Those services were about creating level playing fields for all students.
At Latrobe University, I had responsibility for deaf services as well. I was very involved making sure services to students were high quality – in the form that they wanted – to enable them to be as independent as they wanted to be. At the forefront was the idea that the students are in charge of their experiences and their needs. For me, uni needed to be responsive to that and work in partnership with them.
So DCA was a natural fit for me – thinking about children who face challenges others take for granted. We need to make sure their needs are facilitated in whatever way possible to overcome those challenges. In my role in psychiatry, family therapy and education, it has always been about working in partnership with someone. It’s the individuals’ journey and their approach that we need to support.
I think people’s stories are amazing. I am always in awe of what challenges people face with courage and resilience. The students I have had the great fortune to be involved with – some profoundly deaf – just blew me away by their strength and dignity – the way they managed to engage with their studies and be involved in uni life as well. In any way I can give back to DCA from my experience in working with education, here I am.
It was part of the appeal to come in to Deaf Children Australia at a time when the organisation is at a cross roads. In one of my previous roles at uni, I was the Director looking after change facilitation and communication. I was a conduit for people’s experiences to be fed back into the change team. I have experience in several senior executive teams and as a Board member. I have a lot of experience in committees, and networking with communities.
I hope I have something to offer as a Board member for Deaf Children Australia with my experience in the transformative nature of education, and the knowledge that people have choices but they may face barriers in exercising that choice.
I am inspired by the idea that children can be co-creators of change.”
Kerry is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and from 1999 – 2013, she held a Pro Vice-Chancellor position with a major focus on Equity and Student Services. Prior to this, she held a variety of academic leadership positions in Health Sciences.
Her portfolio of responsibilities included being an inaugural member of the University Threat Assessment team and Crisis Intervention team, complaint management and resolution, diversity and equal opportunity for staff and students, student services, social inclusion, Indigenous education, student enrichment and engagement, counselling services and developing the University Mental Health strategy.
Her formal qualifications include a BA (OT), a Masters of Education in the field of Counselling and a Professional Doctorate in Education. Kerry is a Family Therapist and a Nationally Accredited Mediator.
To read more about other Board members’ qualifications and experience, go to the Who We Are page.