Dunsborough resident wins Heywire storytelling competition

Dunsborough resident Brielle Hunt was one of 37 young regional Australians announced as a winner of the ABC Heywire storytelling competition.
Dunsborough resident Brielle Hunt was one of 37 young regional Australians announced as a winner of the ABC Heywire storytelling competition.

Seventeen year-old Dunsborough resident Brielle Hunt was one of 37 young regional Australians announced as a winner of the ABC Heywire storytelling competition.

Heywire is a place for regional and rural people, aged 16 to 22 years, to share their stories and make a difference in their communities.

Ms Hunt's own story is one of overcoming adversity in the best possible way. After suffering lupus cerebritis - an infection of the brain - Ms Hunt's world went completely silent as she slowly lost her hearing.

"It's my superpower, not a burden," she said.

"My hearing loss was a result of brain damage, which came along with bladder control, hearing, vision, dizziness, nausea and all these other things.

"It was 2.5 years and four trips to Sydney before I received a diagnosis.

"I am on trial medication at the moment, for me it is doing amazing things."

Ms Hunt first began feeling unwell when she was 12 years old, she started writing lists to remind herself to do things such as brushing her hair, brushing her teeth and packing her homework.

"It got to the point when the anxiety part would kick in and I would not be able to go to sleep until I had written things down on the list," she said.

"It was really effecting my memory."

All her life, Ms Hunt experienced recurring ear infections, by the time she was 17 years old she had undergone 14 ear surgeries.

On one of her yearly checkups, Ms Hunt had a hearing test and was told she had lost 50 per cent of her hearing.

"I had no idea, my world turned upside down," she said.

"Because of the ear infections I had when I was younger, they think I learnt to lip read as I learnt English.

"I am just perfectly fine."

When Ms Hunt first realised she would lose her hearing she had so many questions about her future and whether she would be able to get a job, get married or even move out of her home.

"It took about three months for me to get my head around everything, I was in complete denial because I could not accept it, I felt fine," she said.

"While it did change friendships, looking back I now have more great friends and it has changed the whole picture, my life is much better now and much more positive then it was two years ago."

Ms Hunt underwent an intensive AUSLAN program to learn sign language and she hopes to attend university after completing her final year of school at the School of Isolated and Distance Education.

"There is an amazing community in the South-West who know AUSLAN, there are many teachers of the deaf who do it with me, it is a beautiful language and surprisingly easy to learn," she said.

"Distance education helps me with the hearing a lot because they have cameras on so I can lip read them, I also have one-on-one classes with every single one of my teachers."

In February 2020, the winners will attend the Heywire Regional Youth Summit in Canberra. During the week-long summit, they will meet with Members of Parliament and community leaders, to develop ideas to strengthen their communities.

ABC Regional and Local director Judith Whelan said Heywire continued to provide important opportunities for young rural and regional storytellers to develop their talent and to give them a national voice.

"We are very proud to share their stories with audiences across the country," she said.

Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie also applauded the successful entrants.

"It's heartening to see so many young people excited and engaging in making their community a better place, and sharing the stories that matter most to them with all of Australia," Minister McKenzie said.

All the winning stories are available to stream via the ABC listen app or to see Ms Hunt's story online please visit abc.net.au/heywire/heywire-winner-brielle-hunt-bunbury/11685418.