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Marie Kormendy receives Order of Australia

in Be Empowered, Latest News, Stories of Independence

There has been an outpouring of congratulations for teacher Marie Kormendy who is now a Member of the Order of Australia AM. Marie received the accolade for significant service to helping babies and children who are deaf or hard of hearing in Indonesia.

While she is widely recognised for her work with youngsters in the deaf community, she’s also been actively involved with VisAbility.

Marie sitting at an outside table, smiling with sunglasses in hand.
Marie Kormendy was a regular visitor to VisAbility organising Braille textbooks

How did Marie feel on learning she was a recipient of a Member of the Order of Australia (AM)?

Very humbled, I love what I do and to receive recognition for what I have achieved is just amazing. However, there have been many people who have helped me along the way.

Marie Kormendy (AM)
Teacher of the Deaf

Forging links with VisAbility

Marie smiling broadly with a bouquet of flowers.
Marie has received bouquets of flowers and cards

Marie first became involved with VisAbility in the mid-1990s, when it was known as the Association for the Blind WA.

“My first interaction was when I was Equity Officer at Edith Cowan University. It was 25 years ago when students with limited vision needed textbooks transcribed into Braille. VisAbility was able to help me with that request and it enabled students to access the curriculum,’’ Marie explains.

At the same time Marie was instrumental in establishing a Vision Services Committee with VisAbility. Its aim was to offer support for students with vision loss who were moving from high school onto tertiary study. This included workshops and fact-finding trips to university campuses.

It was satisfying to be able to help youngsters during this transition so they could achieve their goals as they moved onto adulthood and post-school education.

Marie Kormendy
Teacher of the Deaf

Empowering young people at college and university

In 2013 Marie, along with other visiting teachers and the assistance of Occupational Therapist Jacinta Nuske and Youth Officer Ryan Honschooten, set up a Youth Advisory Council. This became a platform for high school students with vision impairment to voice any concerns, and also foster leadership talents.

“I have fond memories of working with the team at VisAbility, meeting staff and students. These meetings were held outside of school hours which meant they were great social occasions. I always felt warmly welcomed,” she explains.

Hearing and speech services for deaf children in Indonesia

Marie, originally from Melbourne, set her heart on becoming a teacher of the deaf from an early age. After she moved to WA she became the founding principal of the Speech and Hearing Centre in 1967. It’s now called Telethon Speech and Hearing.

Image shows Marie with audiology equipment which she's donating to two people from Indonesia.
Marie was instrumental in developing speech and audiology services for the deaf in Indonesia

At that time there was very little offered to parents with very young deaf children.

“There was’t much support. We offered guidance on how to best interact with their deaf child. To witness children who are deaf engage with those around them, is wonderful to watch.’’

Working with Rotary and Hearing AID East Java, Marie then went on to help children in Indonesia. This humanitarian project in Indonesia develops audiology, speech and hearing services. Its main focus is on early identification and intervention.

Recognition of her work in the deaf community

Individuals who receive a Member of the Order of Australia are nominated by the public. The accolades are recognition of people making a difference.

“When I received the notification, it made me realise the impact I’d had on others and highlighted my contributions. Yes, it makes me feel very proud,’’ adds Marie.

“I’ve had people send me cards and congratulations including two students I taught back in the 1950s. I’m one of the oldest to receive an award and many people can’t believe I’m still working at 84. I wouldn’t give it up because I love it so much.’’

Marie’s Investiture for the Order of Australia takes place on the 26th August at Government House.

If you’d like to find out more about the services we provide to young people, take a look at our Therapy for Children.