The Shepherd Centre scores funding to build new facility in Macarthur

Dr Mike Freelander with Jen and Jack, a mother and son from Gledswood Hills who will benefit from the new facility. Picture: Supplied
Dr Mike Freelander with Jen and Jack, a mother and son from Gledswood Hills who will benefit from the new facility. Picture: Supplied

The Shepherd Centre will soon bring its vital services to Macarthur after it scored $2.5 million from the NSW Government to build a new facility in the region.

The centre provides early intervention services and speech therapy for childen with hearing loss.

Parents in Macarthur currently have to travel to Liverpool to access The Shepherd Centre or take part in online sessions.

Harrington Park mum Amy Hoppitt said her daughter Claire, who was diagnosed with profound hearing loss in both ears at age two, will have a brighter future with local access to the essential early intervention services they rely on.

"As a parent of a medically complex child who attends many different appointments and therapy, the convenience of a purpose-built centre for the Macarthur region will be amazing," she said.

"To be able to attend our intensive sessions without having to factor in travel times allows us to spend more time on activities that children should be doing - such as going to the park or playing with their siblings.

"The convenience of a centre in our local community means that we have the opportunity to network with local families and share our stories and journeys together."

Ms Hoppitt said the new centre would also allow children with hearing loss to meet other children locally who are going through the same thing.

"It's also support for the parents as well because there is a gambit of emotions we all go through when a child is diagnosed with hearing loss," she said.

"It will be great for local families to be able to share this journey with others.

"As a family we are really pleased that the need for a Shepherd Centre in Macarthur has been recognised."

Harrington Park mum Amy Hoppitt said her daughter Claire, who was diagnosed with profound hearing loss in both ears at age two. Picture: Supplied

Harrington Park mum Amy Hoppitt said her daughter Claire, who was diagnosed with profound hearing loss in both ears at age two. Picture: Supplied

Dr Simon Greenberg, an Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon at Campbelltown and Liverpool Hospitals, praised the funding decision.

"It is such wonderful news for the children of the Macarthur region and their families that the new centre can proceed," he said.

"If not treated early, hearing loss in children can have a life-long impact on educational and social outcomes.

"The services provided by The Shepherd Centre hub in the Macarthur area will make a huge difference to the lives of these children. This announcement is truly wonderful."

Macarthur MP and renowned paediatrician Dr Mike Freelander said he was over-joyed that the centre had received funding.

"There are a staggering 431 children in south west Sydney with hearing loss as their primary disability living in south west Sydney; the second-highest region in Australia," he said.

"The Shepherd Centre provides world-class early intervention services for deaf and hearing-impaired children, and it is wonderful that they will now have a wonderful new facility in Macarthur."

Shepherd Centre chief executive Dr Jim Hungerford said the funding commitment was an exciting step forward that minimises the risk of children with hearing loss being 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," he said.

"This funding means that The Shepherd Centre is able to support families in Sydney's south west, and continues its efforts to close that gap.

"We applaud the government for prioritising the future of children with hearing loss.

Dr Hungerford said the Covid-19 pandemic had made it even harder for some families to access the centre's early intervention services.

"A new local centre will make it much easier for families who could only access our sessions online or have had to travel great distances," he said.

"This new facility will help ensure children with hearing loss across the Macarthur region will have the best chance to reach their full potential, regardless of disability and where they live."

This story The Shepherd Centre scores funding to build new facility in Macarthur first appeared on Camden-Narellan Advertiser.