NSW Government and The Shepherd Centre to support deaf children in Macarthur
The Shepherd Centre has welcomed a NSW Government decision to support for deaf children in Macarthur by committing $2.5million in funding to secure the future of the organisation’s new facility in Macarthur in Sydney’s South West, where children with hearing loss learn to listen and speak.
Many families across Australia face challenges when it comes to accessing specialised early intervention services for hearing loss, despite one in every 300 children in the country receiving a hearing loss diagnosis before starting school.
In South Western Sydney, families currently have access to these services at a temporary, visiting site in Minto, in lieu of a permanent centre.The funding committed by the NSW Government means that a purpose-built centre can be developed in the Macarthur region, where the need for these crucial services is significant.
Dr Jim Hungerford, Chief Executive Officer of The Shepherd Centre said the news represents “an exciting step forward” that minimises the risk of children with hearing loss being left behind.
“We know that for every child with hearing loss there is another child out there who is not currently receiving the specialist support they need to develop essential speech, language and social skills that will give them the best possible start in life,” Dr Hungerford said.
The restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic have made it more challenging for some families to access the help and support they need, and the advent of a local centre will mean The Shepherd Centre is able to support families in Sydney’s South West, and continue its efforts to prioritise the future of children with hearing loss.”
“As a parent of a medically complex child who attends many different appointments and therapy, the convenience of a purpose-built centre for the Macarthur region will be amazing,” said Amy, the mother of three year old Claire, who was diagnosed with profound hearing loss in both ears at age two.
“To be able to attend our intensive sessions without having to factor in travel times allows us to spend more time on activities that children should be doing – such as going to the park or playing with their siblings,” she added.
The Shepherd Centre’s world leading program gives parents the skills and confidence to help their children enter mainstream schools with speech and listening abilities on par with – and sometimes above – their hearing peers.
It costs almost $14,000 per year per child to provide these essential services. The Shepherd Centre relies on government support and fundraising to help the more than 500 families who turn to them each year and to close the gap in access to these critical services.
For more information, visit www.shepherdcentre.org.au or call 1800 020 030.