What drives Drisana
YOUNG Australian of the Year Drisana LevitzkeGray is carrying on the family legacy of being a strong woman advocating for the human rights of people within the deaf community.
The Balga resident is the fifth generation deaf woman in her family who has been a prominent leader and inspiration to women of all ages, achieving many accolades in her 22 years.
Ms Levitzke-Gray said International Women’s Day meant celebrating past and present leaders and making sure the community worked together for a better future.
“As a deaf woman, it is important for us to look back and recognise and acknowledge the important deaf women who have taken part in advocating and ensuring that our rights are known, particularly when it comes to access to Auslan,” she said.
“My great-grandmother Dorothy Shaw was the second of the five generations of deaf women in our family and she is an iconic figure in the deaf community.
“There are so many things we have today that are due to her hard work.”
Ms Levitzke-Gray, who is studying to become a deaf interpreter, said her focus was about raising awareness and access of sign language to deaf children because it was not provided as a right in Australia from birth.
“We have a lot of research that proves that sign language has enormous benefits for deaf children. That research is used for hearing children in terms of cognitive development and baby sign. We don’t apply that same research to deaf children. It reduces isolation in deaf children and it reduces mental health risks in children.”
Growing up, Ms Levitzke-Gray said she was fortunate to have deaf parents and a deaf brother, as it meant the four of them shared the same language and did not have any barriers.
Toni Misitano created the Ryan Marron Foundation to help with her partner's extensive treatment and rehabilitation costs after he contracted Murray Valley encephalitis while working as a police officer in the Kimberley. ASHLEE HARRISON Founded the Zero2Hero organisation following the death of her stepdad. SELINA BELLO For her bravery during a stabbing attack at her South Perth hair salon in which her mother Angela Ferullo was killed. JESSICA SMITH Creator of the Join The Revolution campaign and
OTHER INSPIRING WOMEN WHO MADE THE LIST: TONI MISITANO