In Australia's diverse charity sector, there are thousands of fantastic stories about the impact charities have on their communities.

We recently spoke with The Shepherd Centre about their work, the importance of volunteers and how they manage the process of operating overseas.

shepherd centre

What does your charity do?

The Shepherd Centre provides family-focused early intervention services and school aged services to teach children and young people who are deaf or hearing impaired to develop spoken language, listening and social skills. Recognised as a world leader in paediatric hearing loss, The Shepherd Centre has supported thousands of children and their families since being founded in 1970 by Dr Bruce & Annette Shepherd.

What is the most rewarding part?

Without a doubt, our kids and families. Each year we hold graduations in each one of our centres where parents are welcomed to get up and speak about their child’s journey through The Shepherd Centre. Every year and at every graduation there is not a dry eye in the house!

What is the biggest challenge faced by your charity?

The implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme was a huge challenge that we faced, along with many others in the disability space. We trust the intention of the NDIS will mean a better outcome for all living with a disability and we are now in a fairly good place in terms of the speed and breadth of NDIS plans. There is still work to go, but working with the NDIA and with like-minded organisations in our space, we’ve made good headway.

The implementation of the NDIS has also meant there is a perception in the community that all services are fully funded for those who need it. However there are still gaps where we rely on the generosity of the community to help those programs and services continue. We recently ran an appeal to support our Transition to School program that provides advocacy and social skills to our children who are starting Kindergarten. Programs such as this aren’t funded by the NDIS but we know from research how important these skills are for a smooth transition into mainstream schools.

How important is the support of donors and volunteers to your charity?

Support from volunteers and donors is paramount. We have volunteers that support our group programs by playing games and looking after the children while our parents attend education sessions in the centres around hearing loss. Some of our volunteers have been coming for years and it’s wonderful for the children to return each week to the same familiar faces.

Philanthropy helps to fund approximately 70 per cent of our costs, from individuals dressing up in loud shirts during our annual Loud Shirt Day to corporate teams running the City 2 Surf, every little bit counts towards giving a child the gift of sound and speech.

How have the ACNC's resources assisted your charity?

The ACNC is often the first port of call for guidelines and resources when running a charity or not-for-profit. From the fact sheets to the webinars and podcasts, it’s great to be able to have a resource you can cross-check or contact if you have a query.

Find out more about The Shepherd Centre on their website, or via their social media channels:

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