As part of the new Government’s promised spending in healthcare, three new Shepherd Centres will be created.
Shepherd Centres provide support services to children with hearing loss, including the development of speech and communication skills, life skills and emotional resilience. These are all areas where hearing-impaired children and young people need intensive clinical support, including early intervention.
The Shepherd Centre is part of the First Voice network, which includes SA Can do Group, QLD Hear and Say Centre, WA Telethon Speech and Hearing, and Victoria’s Next Sense.
The new Shepherd Centres will be established in Tasmania (Hobart and Launceston) and New South Wales (Macarthur).
There are currently no organisations providing comprehensive on the ground clinical services for children with hearing loss in Tasmania. Currently, kids in need of support in Tasmania can only access the support they need through a fly-in-fly-out program. The new services in Hobart and Launceston will provide services across Tasmania and are expected to help over 2,000 children and their families over the next two decades.
The Macarthur Region in South West Sydney is the fastest growing area in NSW. And services in nearby areas are over-capacity.
The Government will also support the development of the Shepherd Centres’ HearHub, an online health platform that provides clinical testing, educational and diagnosis tools for children with hearing loss. A fully resourced HearHub will be able to support over 9,000 Australian children with hearing loss and related communication difficulties such as autism spectrum disorder.