Peter Wayne Bonser was born in Sydney to deaf parents, Peter Bonser Snr and Betty Cassera. Growing up in a Deaf family, it was natural for Peter to turn his voluntary interpreting skills into a career during his mid-twenties. He first gained qualifications in Social Welfare and began work as a Welfare worker with the then Adult Deaf Society of NSW during the early 1980s. In the early phase of this work he lobbied successfully for new approaches in providing Welfare and Interpreting services for deaf people.
In 1985, Peter transferred to the Victorian Deaf Society where he was employed as a Community Worker. On his return to work at the Deaf Society of NSW in 1987 he was appointed Manager of Interpreting Services. That same year, he also went on to be one of the first in the interpreting field to gain a formal interpreter professional level (3) accreditation.
During Peter’s long employment with the Deaf Society he held numerous administrative positions that included; Manager of Interpreting Services, Manager of Community Access and Interpreting Services, Acting CEO, Manager of Information and Community Development and Project Manager – Outreach. In addition to his roles at the Deaf Society, Peter served as a member of the Advisory Council to the NSW Minister for Disability Services and initiated the development of ‘Choices’, an informative book for parents of newly diagnosed deaf children which is now a staple publication of Australian Hearing. Peter’s work oversaw two important demographic studies undertaken, one regarding education and access to services of the Deaf Community and the second on accommodation preferences for Deaf Seniors.
Along with his wife, Judie Treloggen, who also comes from a Deaf family, Peter founded CODA (Children of Deaf Adults) Australia in 1993. CODA Australia, a self-help organisation, aims to foster bicultural identities in hearing adults and children who have deaf parents. Peter served as the organisation’s first president. Both he and his wife were also instrumental in the establishment of Interpreting as a profession with the creation of the Australian Sign Language Interpreting Association (ASLIA). Peter served as ASLIA’s founding President from 1992 to 1994.
In March 2001, Peter Bonser moved to Queensland to work with the then Queensland Deaf Society where he was employed for the next decade as an interpreter, Manager of Lifestyle Support Services, Manager of Community Services, and his final position as Manager of Interpreting Services. It was during this time that the various Deaf Societies in Australia came together to establish SLC, a national Auslan interpreting service.
Both Peter and Judie, married since 1984, continue to work as interpreters in Queensland.
Personal information from Peter Bonser
DSNSW Annual Reports