Dr LEIGH (Fenner) (16:16): When Isam Gurung first came to Amaroo Primary School he was in an unfamiliar environment. Isam is deaf, and had moved from a specialist school in Sydney to a mainstream school in Canberra. He found it difficult to adjust and was initially very shy. That was before he befriended Ross Kelly: a boy who decided, after passing notes forwards and backwards, that he would go a step further and learn sign language to help his friend.
As Ross Kelly put it:
If you write down 'look at that bird there', you write it down and you give it to Isam, [but] the bird's already gone.
So Ross took his time and learnt Auslan. That led to a strong friendship which assisted Isam's settling into the school. As Isam's father, Indra, said, the boys would play at scouts and in scouts they would also work to teach the other boys Auslan.
The Fred Hollows Foundation has given Ross a special award for his citizenship, for reaching out. Gabi Hollows said of Isam:
He came into a new environment here in Canberra and he had an interpreter at school but having a friend who can communicate with him is another thing again.
I commend Ross Kelly for showing the great values of Canberra in helping his friend incorporate into a new environment by learning Auslan.