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The Hearing House enables Henry to find his global voice

It will be eleven-year-old Henry Optican’s first trip to Australia when he goes to Canberra in July to

represent The Hearing House at the annual Power of Speech event in Parliament.

Regional member organisation First Voice hosts the Power of Speech forum, targeted at key

policymakers and designed to challenge the perceptions of what children with hearing loss can


As part of the event, a group of children – all with cochlear implants and representing First Voice

organisations throughout New Zealand and Australia – make individual addresses to a group of MPs, policymakers and government officials around the theme of ‘’The Power of My Hearing Support Team.’’.

Mark Fitzpatrick, chair of First Voice, says, "The Power of Speech gives attendees the chance to hear first-hand how critical it is to have the holistic and connected services provided by the members of First Voice in the shaping lives of children with hearing loss and their families."

The children’s participation shows how early intervention, support and cochlear implants are helping them reach their full potential.

Henry’s unique sense of humour shines

Henry, who is in Year 7 at Kowhai Intermediate School in Auckland, wrote his address for the Power of Speech himself, and has managed to inject his own brand of humour into his speech.

Here is a brief extract:

“The reason I’m able to speak to all of you today is because of my cochlear implants. These life-

changing pieces of tech have helped so many people around the world lead good and noisy lives. If I had been born 100 years ago, I wouldn’t be able to hear anything, from my own footsteps to my parents talking, to an audience clapping — which hopefully all of you will be once I finish this speech!”

Henry was diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss at birth. Although he wasn’t completely deaf,

his hearing quickly deteriorated to the point of total deafness.

Henry received bi-lateral cochlear implants just before his third birthday.

In addition to his hearing loss, Henry has been diagnosed with high-functioning autism spectrum


“The Hearing House gave me confidence and courage”.

Henry credits The Hearing House’s support and training with enabling him to become a good and

confident speaker, who has the courage to give a four-minute speech to a large audience without

fear — as he will be doing next month.

In addition to speaking and writing, Henry loves video gaming and coding, and is an avid reader.

Henry is also currently learning Japanese online via Duolingo, something he says he could not havedone without the help of cochlear implants and The Hearing House.

“I wouldn’t be able to present my speech, if it wasn't for the help and support provided by the

fantastic people at The Hearing House,” he says. “I want to thank them as much as I possibly can.

The Hearing House is an amazing organisation that has changed many people's lives — as they have changed mine.”

Henry’s parents, Claire Campbell and Scott Optican, will be accompanying him to the Power of

Speech event in Canberra, along with The Hearing House CEO, Dr Claire Green.

“Being able to attend this event is a highlight of my role,” says Dr Green.

“It’s profoundly moving to witness the power of technology and human relationships as children

with cochlear implants speak in Parliament. Their voices, once unheard, now speak with clarity and

purpose, and are evidence of the transformative impact of the work we can do together.

“At the Power of Speech, we celebrate not only their words, but the possibilities and life choices that lie ahead for these children. Their speeches are a testament to our commitment to breaking barriers and unlocking potential. Together, we redefine what it means to listen, to communicate and to thrive.”

Henry will be speaking at the Power of Speech event in Canberra on Wednesday, 3 July from 10.30- 11.30am AEST. His speech will be live-streamed. Follow The Hearing House on Facebook to access the live stream.

For more about the Power of Speech event, visit


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