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World class centre to help deaf and hearing impaired kids live normal lives

A world class centre helping hearing impaired children in the Macarthur region has moved a giant step closer to reality this morning.

The Shepherd Centre will receive $2.5 million towards the construction of a clinic where children can access services that will help them with speech therapy and other hearing impairment services.

To be located along Moore-Oxley Street, Campbelltown, opposite the old showground, it would be the sixth centre built by the charity, which has already started operating in Macarthur on a temporary basis.

“This is wonderful news and it sets us on the way to establishing a centre in Macarthur, a huge growing area, to help local children with hearing difficulties,’’ said Jim Hungerford, chief executive officer of The Shepherd Centre at this morning’s funding commitment by local Labor MPs and candidates in Saturday’s federal election.

“We are already making a difference with our temporary centre at Minto, just ask Jen, whose son Jack goes for speech therapy services,’’ he said.

Jack, 3, has a mild hearing impairment and his mother said it was great to have the Shepherd Centre services close to where they live at Gledswood Hills.

“Building a full centre here will be even better for all the local kids who need such services,’’ Jennifer said.

Support: Gledswood Hills mother Jennifer with three year old Jack who has a mild hearing impairment and (back row, left to right) Dr Mike Freelander, Aoife Champion (Labor candidate for Hume), Werrriwa MP Anne Stanley and Dr Jim Hungerford, CEO of The Shepherd Centre.

Dr Mike Freelander, Member for Macarthur, said Labor’s funding commitment of $2.5 million will benefit around 200 children and their families when the centre is opened in late 2020

“With the area experiencing rapid growth, the new centre will address the present shortfall in specialist services and cater to the diverse needs of children who are deaf or hearing impaired,” he said.

“Labor’s investment in a centre of excellence in Macarthur will allow the Shepherd Centre to expand their world-leading services in paediatric hearing loss.” 

Mr Hungerford pointed out that currently 50 percent of kids with hearing problems don’t access support services because they are too far or other reasons, and having one here will change that.

The Shepherd Centre provides a family centred early intervention program to teach children born deaf or hearing impaired how to develop spoken language, to give them the best possible start in life.

 The organisation has an international reputation as a centre of excellence in helping children with hearing loss learn to listen and speak.

 It currently provides a range of services to more than 500 families across five centres in NSW and the ACT, as well as outreach support across Tasmania and rural Australia. 

 Yet there are many families struggling to get the support they need because they live in areas where there are no specialist services, including Macarthur, but that is about to change – depending on the election result on Saturday.

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