06 March 2017
L-R Michael Forwood, CEO Cora Barclay Centre & Chair of First Voice; Assistant Minister, the Hon Jane Prentice MP; Rosie Gallen, The Shepherd Centre graduate; Jonah Roberts, The Shepherd Centre graduate, Jim Hungerford, CEO The Shepherd Centre.
Last year, First Voice commissioned 3 studies on the social and economic benefits of the speech and language early intervention programs provided by member centres, including the Cora Barclay Centre.
- an independent literature review on the effectiveness of listening and spoken language early intervention for deaf children;
- a cost benefit analysis of our programs; and
- a survey of the education, social participation and employment outcomes of graduates of our early intervention programs who are now 18 to 28-years-old, i.e. they have finished school and are out and about in the real world
First Voice’s aim was to inform government decision-makers, other stakeholders and the general public of the extraordinary outcomes achieved by deaf children participating in our programs throughout Australia.
Why did we need to do this? Because things have not gone well for hearing-impaired children and their service providers in the NDIS Children’s Trial site in South Australia over the past 3 1/2 years and everyone, including the government, NDIA, service providers, and relevant professional associations and advocacy bodies are struggling to find solutions.
Fixing the problems is a matter of great urgency as there are around 4,000 deaf and hearing-impaired children due to join the NDIS over the next 12 to 24 months and as things currently stand some children will be excluded from the NDIS, others will suffer from delayed or inappropriate referrals and many will be inadequately funded relative to the costs of their chosen program.
So on Friday, 3 March 2017 - World Hearing Day - First Voice officially launched the three reports at The Shepherd Centre in Sydney, in the presence of a distinguished audience including the Commonwealth Government Assistant Minister for Disabilities, the Hon Jane Prentice MP.
The Shepherd Centre Chief Clinician, Aleisha Davies presents the results of the cost benefit analysis and the graduate outcomes results.
Proceedings were brilliantly managed by our 14-year-old MC, Jonah Roberts. Jonah is a past graduate of The Shepherd Centre, profoundly deaf, has two cochlear implants, and is an inaugural winner of the Power of Speech public speaking awards held annually at Parliament House, Canberra. An impressive CV for one so young! Jonah adeptly opened the Launch with a short speech about his own journey with The Shepherd Centre and proceeded to run the show like clockwork introducing each of the speakers in turn, thanking them, and giving the final wrap up.
As Chair of First Voice I spoke first about World Hearing Day and its theme of making sound investments in hearing services for children as without such investments research shows children who are deaf, worldwide, generally experience poor educational outcomes, social and emotional well being issues and feelings of isolation.
My speech was followed by Aleisha Davies, The Shepherd Centre’s Chief Clinician, who gave us a highly informative and compelling presentation on the key findings and significance of the two main reports. Next came Rosie Gallen, a respondent to the First Voice Graduate Outcomes Survey, who spoke beautifully about the difference that The Shepherd Centre had made to her life and how important it was that all deaf children should have the same opportunities that she has enjoyed. Rosie has successfully finished school and her tertiary studies and is happily getting on with life in interior design.
The final speaker was the Assistant Minister, the Hon Jane Prentice MP, who warmly acknowledged Jo and Rosie’s speeches and made it abundantly clear that she absolutely “gets it” in regard to early intervention, its real effectiveness for hearing-impaired children, and the importance of ensuring that government health and disability funding are appropriate to meeting the needs of Australian deaf children into the future.
After the formalities everyone mingled, chatted, congratulated each other and happily “chewed the ear” of the Minister, NDIA, academics from Macquarie Hearing Hub, and friends and supporters from Cochlear Ltd, the Deafness Forum of Australia and others in attendance.
Altogether, the celebration of World Hearing Day through the launch of the reports was a great success. You can read the reports on our Outcomes Results page. Please take a minute or two to read them – or, at least, the three Executive Summaries which are intentionally very short!
Until next time.
CEO, Cora Barclay Centre