THE Tasmanian Community Fund (TCF) has provided $500,000 to the Shepherd Centre which supports young people diagnosed with deafness and their families.

Based in Hobart, it will be the first permanent clinical intervention service for deaf children in the state, ensuring equitable access to life-changing support, long-term wellbeing, and community cohesion.

Three-year-old Ted Warren from Moonah was born deaf and has been utilising The Shepherd Centre professional support to develop speech and language.

Ted’s mum Caroline Verth said having The Shepherd Centre in a different state without a permanent presence in Tasmania had provided challenges to accessing all of the support they had to offer.

“The Shepherd Centre has been great for Ted and been invaluable for our family,” she said.

“Having regular access to its specialist services will change our whole experience and we are really looking forward to the difference it will make to Ted’s life.”

The Shepherd Centre will recruit and train a Hobart-based clinician who will focus on coordinating appointments for children, managing hearing devices, providing group education programs for families, forming relationships with local health and education providers, and organising community-building and social connection events for families.

Over three years, the centre will develop a full staffed local operation, enabling them to address urgent local needs, while utilising existing resources to support gradual growth of a local service.

The Shepherd Centre chief executive officer Dr Jim Hungerford said the service would focus on development of listening, speech, literacy, social skills and emotional resilience.

“The Shepherd Centre is a world leader in early intervention services for children with hearing loss and we have already been supporting children in Tasmania for the past 10 years via our Online Telehealth System and in-person visits from our clinicians,” he said.

“We are excited to establish a centre in Hobart as well as an additional facility in Launceston to ensure that children across the state don’t miss out on life changing services.

“We already have established networks with local hearing loss specialists and look forward to deepening these relationships to ensure that children with hearing loss and their families get the best support they need.”

The grant was part of $3.1 million worth of funding provided by the TCF for eight projects across Tasmania that support community wellbeing or workforce engagement outcomes for the Tasmanian community.

Included in the funding was a state-first health justice project from the Women’s Legal Service Tasmania, and an educational project with The Smith Family that will increase levels of digital inclusion for students and their families.

There were also specific community focused projects, such as an employment pathways project from the Burnie Local Enabling Group Inc to support jobseekers and their families in the area, and an initiative from the Future Impact Group to build young people’s capacity to engage in decision making and lead change in George Town.

“The Shepherd Centre is thrilled to be the recipient of this significant funding to establish essential services for Tasmanian children with hearing loss and their families,” Dr Hungerford said.

“This is an opportunity to establish critical support for hundreds of children in Tasmania and make real impact to their lives for future generations to come.”

TCF Chair Sally Darke said the TCF Board was proud to be able to support so many worthwhile projects and programs in Tasmania through these grants focused on workforce engagement and community wellbeing.

“Our communities are evolving, and the Tasmanian Community Fund is committed to enabling projects and programs that meet the changing needs of our communities,” she said.

“Improving the wellbeing and health of Tasmanians is something we strive to achieve, and we look forward to seeing how these projects will have a positive effect on the community.”

The Tasmanian Community Fund was established in 1999 following the sale of the Trust Bank.

An independent funding body, the Fund provides grants to community organisations that make a difference by improving social, environmental and economic wellbeing of the Tasmanian community. 

For more information, visit www.tascomfund.org or phone the Fund office on 6165 8333.

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