The Shepherd Centre, is a non-profit charitable organization that has been providing early intervention services and programs to children who are hearing and deaf impaired, and their families, for about 45 years. The Centre was established by Dr Bruce Shepherd AM and Annette his late wife, in 1970 because the couple was unable to get in Australia a suitable program to teach their children who were hearing impaired to speak and listen. They believed that, given the training and opportunity, children born hearing or deaf impaired ought to be able to completely assimilate with the community and attain their full potential.
Following and intensive and long search, Bruce and Annette did attend the summer program held at The John Tracy Clinic located in Los Angeles and were convinced that the clinic’s techniques best covered the family and educational ethos they wanted to copy and follow in Australia. The Shepherd’s first centre, initially known as ‘The Council for Integrated Deaf Education’, was constructed within The Sydney University grounds and was in fact the pioneering early intervention organization teaching ‘Auditory-Oral Therapy’ to children who were impaired of hearing in Australia.
Starting with only 5 families, The Shepherd Centre today assists above 350 children and their families yearly through 5 centres in ACT and NSW, including in remote and rural areas of Australia plus overseas through tele-intervention (assistance via video conferencing) and residential workshops. Latest outcomes show that above 90 per cent of The Shepherd Centre graduates go on to conventional school, the huge majority with language and speech skills at par with their normal hearing classmates.
The Shepherd Centre Work
From the year 1970, The Centre has been transforming the face of services meant for children with hearing loss in Sydney and the broader NSW, including the ACT; supplying children with loss of hearing with the tools they require to learn to speak and listen. The Early Intervention program run by the Centre is world-renowned due its results – in excess of 90% of children having hearing loss graduating from the program attend normal school with language and listening skills at par with those of their peers who are hearing.
Since inception, The Shepherd Centre has helped about 2,000 children who are either hearing impaired or deaf, to enhance their quality of life. The Centre is recognized as a global leader in the Auditory-Verbal Therapy early intervention field, offering families with help to develop the spoken language of their child, so they could attain their full potential and become a wholly contributing community member.
In line with the mission of the Centre, it works along with other partner organizations, towards helping every child who has hearing loss in the ACT and New South Wales achieve the best possible spoken language and listening ability they are capable of. The Centre supports the development of their skills in order to maximize their social and community inclusion.
Services are also given selectively to kids in some other areas like Tasmania, and to adults we were supported as children. The Centre strives for all of its work to be grounded on evidence-based best practices. The goal aim is to become the best globally in terms of the clinical programs standard; the results being attained by the children; operations efficiency; and the ability of connecting people with the cause.
The Centre’s clinical work comprises integrated services that incorporate spoken language and listening clinical programs that include counselling and audiological support; harmonized accessibility to multi-agency services/support such as cochlear implantation; and outreach support and research in support of the Centre’s mission. The basic customer in focusing all the efforts towards attaining this mission remains the family of the child having loss of hearing.
The Centre’s Vision
Shepherd Centre’s vision is to enable children who are hearing-impaired and deaf to be able to develop their spoken language so that they might fully participate in their community and in the world, and in so doing, attain their full growth potential.
Shepherd Centre’s Focus
The Early Intervention Program being run by The Shepherd Centre utilizes the Auditory-Verbal Therapy methodology with a focus on the family. The multi-disciplinary team of the Centre equips and supports parents with the methods and strategies they require to seize each opportunity in situations that happens day-to-day in teaching their kids to listen and understand the meanings of different sounds and to be able to speak.
Support coming from the community supplies nearly 75 per cent of the much needed finances to offer these programs to the students. Fundraising towards The Shepherd Centre also helps towards continuing the life-changing work.
Although, The Shepherd Centre is not a listed Australian company, it utilizes the guidelines as laid down in the Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations formulated by the Australian Stock Exchange Corporate Governance Council (ASECGC) as the basis for its general governance arrangements. The Shepherd Centre has no obligation in terms of adopting these principles but is dedicated to transparency and good corporate governance. A Board of Directors comprised of a Chairman and 6 Directors governs The Shepherd Centre. Their expertise and knowledge ensures that The Shepherd Centre:
- Attains objectives in line with the Strategic Plan
- Is in compliance with all relevant regulations and laws
- Continues meeting management and financial performance expectations
The Shepherd Centre is proudly a member of First Voice. This is a national alliance of member outfits and organizations whose prime focus is directed towards the provision of spoken and listening language to children who are hearing or deaf impaired. Set up in the year 2010, First Voice has a crucial leadership role in terms of shaping funding decision-making and public policy relating to children that are hearing impaired.
First Voice has evolved from what was previously known as the Alliance for Deaf Children that had been formed in 2003. First Voice has 5 founding members with an affiliate member organization in New Zealand. Regardless of its limited financial resources, First Voice has today emerged as a very active, strong, and influential organization in the early child intervention sector. First Voice lobbying efforts were very instrumental towards securing federal government recurrent funding for early childhood intervention services not just for children who are hearing impaired, but across a variety of other child disability areas.