Our History | Telethon Speech & Hearing

Our History

Origins of a Dream

Telethon Speech & Hearing stands today as a testimony to a belief in the worthiness of children with hearing, speech or language difficulties, and to the dedication and effort of their parents and friends.

From our humble beginnings and in the face of tremendous odds, Telethon Speech & Hearing has come to occupy a significant position in Western Australia’s health and disability landscape, and an equally significant place in the educational realm. Our success today stems from the incredible spirit and zeal of our founding teachers, families and friends who had great hopes for the future of their profoundly deaf children and refused to settle for what they thought was ‘second best’. Their efforts are a source of inspiration and motivation to our growing team and remain part of Telethon Speech & Hearing’s family-centred philosophy to this day.

Words from Jenny's father, the late Terry Crommelin

Jenny and Terry Crommelin
Jenny and Terry Crommelin

The time – about six o’clock, one night, December 1962. The place – our home in Perth, Western Australia. The scene – our kitchen where our twelve month old daughter, Jenny was playing on the floor, her back to the door of my entry.

Audrey was busy preparing the evening meal; the other two children were doing their homework or watching television in another part of our home.

From the moment of my outburst, it was only a few hours before we both knew we had a deaf, a very deaf, child.

Fear, horror – what do we do? Who do we consult? Who do we know who might help bring some resolution to their problem?

Naturally, we sought the advice of doctors, hoping against hope that our fears were unfounded, but after several confirmations we settled down to the reality that Jenny was deaf. 

We turned to friends and acquaintances for advice. I sought the counsel of a member of the golf club where I played as he held a senior position in the Special Education Branch in the Education Department.

The unacceptable advice that I received fired within me a desire, a determination, to find something else – there must be other, perhaps better, ways. Was Australia behind in these matters? What about overseas? USA? England? Their doctors must be way ahead of those in Perth.

I was looking at the possibility of a medical solution. But Jenny’s deafness was more than that and I realised that with deafness comes a ‘speaking’ problem. Would she ever learn to talk? Was it possible?

Long investigation followed and our personal search for answers became a shared one. Other parents, grandparents and friends were drawn together and began to express their hopes and aspirations. They also felt there must be another way of teaching deaf children to talk.

So commences, what is today, Telethon Speech & Hearing.

A ‘Jenny’ not only helps to bond a family but helps to build the character of each member, so bringing out the ‘giving’ and replacing the ‘taking’. We give thanks for our Jenny.

When I was asked to write this ‘Foreword’ my mind had to go back over thirty years and my emotions were deeply stirred, especially those of gratitude.

We have gained more from our ‘deaf’ experience than we can ever measure. To me, the softness that has developed as a trait in each member of my family is a characteristic of which I am so proud. That alone has made our ‘Jenny experience’ worthwhile.

A ‘Jenny’ offers a challenge to any caring parent, grandparent, brother, sister or friend. It is a family challenge so badly needed in this selfish world today.

Marie Kormendy Jenny Crommelin
Jenny with founding Principal, Marie Kormendy

The history of the first twenty five years of the Speech and Hearing Centre, so well put together by some of the real ‘givers’ of this world will give heart to those who, like Audrey and me, have a deaf child.

I say to those parents,

I commend this history to your attention and hope that you will find inspiration in the efforts of those parents and friends of the Centre who preceded you and whose achievements are recorded in it.

Excerpt taken from The Speech and Hearing Centre : the first twenty five years (1967-1992) by Vince McCudden.

Telethon Speech & Hearing through the years

Since our humble beginnings, Telethon Speech & Hearing has grown into a centre of excellence for assisting children with hearing and speech and language difficulties. The spirits of our tenacious founders have been a source of inspiration and motivation to our growing team and remain part of our family-centred philosophy to this day.


Telethon Speech & Hearing originated in 1966 with a group of parents, who had great hopes for the future of their profoundly deaf children and refused to settle for what they thought was ‘second best’. These parents decided to start a school of their own. With five students, no premises, little money and experience, they made a commitment to pursue the very best oral education for their children.


The following year they started The Speech & Hearing Centre for Children WA Inc. – an independent, registered school that officially opened on 6th February 1967. Marie McCudden (Kormendy) was appointed as founding Principal.

The school operated and survived in a number of temporary locations across Perth before a larger, more permanent premise was found to accommodate the growing demands of of its services. In 1972, a site alongside Lake Monger in Wembley was formally offered and the planning and building of a purpose-built school began.


On 14th March 1975, hundreds of children, parents and invited guests gathered to witness the official opening of the new school by Sir Charles Court. The new school was very tangible evidence of the dedication of a very determined band of parents and friends of deaf children.


In 1984, the centre made a formal application to become a Telethon beneficiary. Since this time, Telethon has been a significant supporter of the centre’s efforts and each year witnesses its welcome impact on families.


In February 2005, The Speech & Hearing Centre became the Telethon Speech & Hearing Centre as part of the continuing support and relationship with the Channel 7 Telethon Trust. The support offered by Telethon has enabled Telethon Speech & Hearing to maintain a significantly high standard of service to deaf and hard of hearing children, and to support programs of research that might otherwise not have been possible. 


On 30th April 2015, the members of Telethon Speech & Hearing Centre for Children WA Inc, passed a special resolution at an annual general meeting, to move from an incorporated association to a company limited by guarantee. This decision was based on the organisational size of Telethon Speech & Hearing and the increased governance and protection of client information afforded by the new structure.  It also allowed Telethon Speech & Hearing to seek sponsors and benefactors outside of Western Australia. Hence, Telethon Speech & Hearing Ltd. was registered by ASIC on 20 July, 2015.