May 2018 Illawarra Mercury
The Shepherd Centre founder and pioneer of therapy and services for children with hearing loss in Australia passed away on May 25. He was 85. Dr Shepherd and his late wife Annette were pioneers of their time. They worked tirelessly at finding an alternative to the methods available in Australia for children with hearing loss when their children Penny and Danny were both born profoundly deaf.
Well-known Bowral resident Dr Bruce Shepherd AM has died
At that time, children with hearing loss were typically sent to designated schools for the deaf, often as boarders, where they were taught sign language and were isolated from their families and the hearing community. After extensive research, Bruce and Annette Shepherd embarked on a journey to America to attend the summer program at The John Tracy Clinic in Los Angeles. Impressed by this method of early intervention, Dr Shepherd brought this back to Australia where they established “The Council for Integrated Deaf Education” on Sydney University grounds – which later became known as The Shepherd Centre.
It was the first early intervention agency to teach “Auditory-Oral Therapy” to children with hearing loss in Australia. Starting with just five families, The Shepherd Centre now supports more than 500 families a year in NSW, the ACT and Tasmania and is continuing to grow. Dr Shepherd was also instrumental in lobbying the government for the introduction of the NSW State-wide Infant Screening Hearing (SWISH) program which was established in 2000 and is now used nationally.
His work has helped position Australia as one of the best places in the world to be born deaf with The Shepherd Centre’s outcomes for children with hearing loss incomparable.
In 1991 Dr Shepherd was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) for his efforts in deaf education, teaching deaf children to speak and enabling them to attend mainstream schools with full integration. During his professional life, he became NSW state and federal president of the AMA. He founded the Australian Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Australian Doctors’ Fund, and was first leader of both of these. He was also President of The Australian Orthopaedic Association.
Dr Bruce Shepherd was always committed to deliver the best healthcare for all Australians. He is well known for passionately leading a group of doctors fighting the Hawke Labor Government striving to nationalise the profession.
Since its inception almost 50 years ago, The Shepherd Centre has enabled more than 2000 children to develop spoken language and experience social inclusion.