Kim Curtis is a Koorie woman from the Awabakal tribe, and grew up in Newcastle, NSW. She was three years old when her parents found out she was deaf. They were encouraged by medical professionals to send Kim to a mainstream school rather than a Deaf school so that she would learn to use speech instead of signing. Years later, she learnt to sign and attended Newcastle University where she graduated in 1991 with a BA in Social Science (Welfare Studies). Kim was one of the first deaf Aboriginal Australians to graduate with a degree, a special achievement at a time when there was no policy for equal access to education for people with disabilities. She went on to gain a Graduate Diploma in Education from the University of Technology in Sydney.
Even before graduating, Kim gained a position as Teacher/Consultant for the Deaf at New England Institute of Technical and Further Education (TAFE) in Tamworth. Her strong commitment to the Deaf Community and leadership skills have helped develop and improve services especially in TAFE institutions. Kim’s work with community groups helped to develop access provisions in this regional area, including setting up captioning at cinemas, public TTY phone access, installing smoke alarms in deaf people’s homes, forming an Interpreter Service at Tamworth Base Hospital and in the wider Tamworth community in order to access government services.
Kim has also conducted community consultations for the Aboriginal Disability Network, which was established in 2002. Through grants from the private sector, the network has been able to provide support for rural, regional and metropolitan Aboriginal people with disabilities and increase public awareness of issues faced by this minority group. Kim has presented a paper on Deaf Aboriginal people as an emerging community at a Deaf Australia Conference in Tasmania.
Kim worked as a Teacher/Consultant for the Deaf/Hearing Impaired at NSW TAFE - New England Institute for almost 20 years and now holds the same position at Sydney TAFE - St George Campus.
Personal information from Kim Curtis