March 2021 Australian Hearing Hub
The Shepherd Centre, a leading provider of early intervention services for children with hearing loss, is pleased to announce the opening of a new visiting centre in Shellharbour’s Flinders Child and Family Centre on the NSW South Coast. This is a positive development for families in the region as they will now have local access to The Shepherd Centre’s specialised early intervention services. Previously, these families relied on travelling to centres in Wollongong and Greater Sydney.
One in every 300 Australian children will be diagnosed with hearing loss by school age 1, however, many of these families can have difficulty accessing specialised early intervention services.
Dr Jim Hungerford, Chief Executive Officer of The Shepherd Centre said that the establishment of the new centre will help to ensure that children with hearing loss on the NSW South Coast aren’t 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,” said Dr Hungerford. “The opening of The Shepherd Centre in Shellharbour means that we are able to support more families on the NSW South Coast. We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even harder for families to access crucial services like early intervention. We hope this new visiting centre will remove some of the barriers families in Shellharbour, and surrounding areas, face when trying to ensure their children can reach their full potential,” said Dr Hungerford.
A new centre further down on the South Coast means that children like Ava can access the support they need to develop spoken language skills, at their doorstep. Mum Ashleigh is thankful for all the help that the centre has provided for her 15-month-old daughter but admits the travel had been challenging. “It’s not bad, but when you have got the logistics of travelling from the South Coast, and peak hours and traffic and a baby that’s on a schedule, and nap times and feeding and all those things come into play, the logistics of it can become quite tricky.”