Kymberly Martin

Growing gap in children accessing hearing services

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The number of families accessing early intervention hearing services has declined significantly according to The Shepherd Centre. The NSW based Not-for-profit organisation specialises in early intervention to help children who are deaf and hearing-impaired develop spoken language skills.

According to centre data and NDIS statistics only 50 per cent of children aged up to 6 years are receiving a basic NDIS plan with only 30 per cent of essential hearing services government funded.  The centre has also seen a significant decrease in families accessing services since the start of Covid-19, with Sydney region enrolments down nearly 56 per cent.

A graduate of The Shepherd Centre’s early intervention program, Rosie Gallen, pictured, is now a strong advocate for the organisation and its early intervention services. She is not only proud of how far she has come, but also of other children, past and present, who are on the same journey.

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“Seeing children at the centre flourish, build confidence and reach their full potential is heart-warming to witness,” she said.

Despite being profoundly deaf, the 28- year old Gunnedah local  has gained a tertiary education, travelled Europe solo, moved from her hometown to live in the ‘big smoke’ for over eight years and built a successful career in interior design.

The Shepherd Centre is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, launching its inaugural fundraising Giving Day on October 29-30 to help bridge the growing gap in access to early intervention services.

The Centre was founded in 1970 by Dr Bruce Shepherd and his late wife Annette after the couple could not find a suitable program in Australia to teach their hearing-impaired children how to listen and speak.

For more information on Giving Day visit: https://the-shepherd-centre.giveeasy.org/giving-day

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