He’s most comfortable in red, but Premier Mark McGowan embraced a much wider colour palette on Thursday as part of Loud Shirt Day in benefit of Telethon Speech and Hearing.
In what has become a long-running tradition, Labor MPs shed their power suits and jackets to don their most garish shirts while raising funds for a good cause.
Mr McGowan presented Telethon Speech and Hearing with $500 in donations direct from Labor caucus — but not before those gathered in the room heard speeches from two of the not-for-profit’s direct beneficiaries, brother and sister Kyden and Jemma Robertson.
The siblings — aged 9 and 7 respectively — were both born with profound hearing loss, a genetic condition inherited from their parents.
With the support and early intervention of Telethon Speech and Hearing — including cochlear implants, years of speech pathology and school-based support — both children are now able to hear and communicate effectively.
Kyden spoke about all things Egypt — including pyramids and mummies — while Jemma delighted guests with the ins-and-outs of the tooth fairy.
A clearly impressed Premier said he had gleaned more from their speeches than during his more than two decades of debates in Parliament.
“I learnt more in the last five minutes than in the last 20 years,” Mr McGowan joked.
The WA Labor Party has supported Loud Shirt Day for the past 11 years, with the concept conceived as a way of drawing attention to the plight of children living with hearing loss.
Telethon Speech and Hearing began as a school for profoundly deaf children in 1967 but has evolved over the ensuing decades to offer a wide range of services and support for children with ear health, hearing, speech or language issues.
TSH chief executive Mark Fitzpatrick said that 87 per cent of children whose hearing loss was diagnosed early in their lives went on to achieve speech outcomes “comparable to their hearing peers”.
“We’re the only State that allows kids like Kyden and Jemma to go to a school where we have teachers of the deaf — supported by a specialist education assistants, occupational therapists, speech therapists, psychologists and audiologists — all wrapping around these kids in one spot,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
Kyden and Gemma are students at Mel Maria Catholic Primary School in Myaree.