Vale Dr Bruce Shepherd AM

25 May 2018

Friday 25th May 2018 – Sydney, Australia – World-leading children’s charity, The Shepherd Centre is mourning the loss of its iconic founder, Dr Bruce Shepherd AM, who passed peacefully this morning, aged 85.

Dr Shepherd and his late wife Annette were pioneers of their time. They worked tirelessly at finding an alternative to the methods available in Australia for children with hearing loss when their children Penny and Danny were both born profoundly deaf.  At that time, children with hearing loss were typically sent to designated schools for the deaf, often as boarders, where they were taught sign language and were isolated from their families and the hearing community.

After extensive research, Bruce and Annette Shepherd embarked on a journey to America to attend the summer program at The John Tracy Clinic in Los Angeles. Impressed by this method of early intervention, Dr Shepherd brought this back to Australia where they established “The Council for Integrated Deaf Education” on Sydney University grounds – which later became known as The Shepherd Centre. It was the first early intervention agency to teach “Auditory-Oral Therapy” to children with hearing loss in Australia.  Starting with just five families, The Shepherd Centre now supports over 500 families a year in NSW, the ACT and Tasmania and is continuing to grow.

Dr Shepherd was also instrumental in lobbying the government for the introduction of the NSW State-wide Infant Screening Hearing (SWISH) program which was established in 2000 and is now used nationally.

His extraordinary work has helped position Australia as one of the best places in the world to be born deaf with The Shepherd Centre’s outcomes for children with hearing loss incomparable. In 1991 Dr Shepherd was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) for his efforts in deaf education, teaching deaf children to speak and enabling them to attend mainstream schools with full integration. 

During his professional life, he became New South Wales State President and Federal President of the AMA.  He founded the Australian Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Australian Doctors’ Fund, and was first leader of both of these.  He was also President of The Australian Orthopaedic Association.

Dr Bruce Shepherd was always committed to deliver the best healthcare for all Australians. He is well known for passionately leading a group of doctors fighting the Hawke Labor Government striving to nationalise the profession.

A public memorial service will be held to commemorate the life of Dr Bruce Shepherd AM. Details will be made available on The Shepherd Centre’s website www.shepherdcentre.org.au.

The Shepherd family has requested donations be made to The Shepherd Centre in lieu of flowers via the following link: shepherdcentre.org.au/dr-bruce-shepherd-memoriam

Deafness is the most common childhood disability in the western world. One in every 1,000 Australian babies is born deaf and one in every 300 children is diagnosed with significant hearing loss by the time they reach school.  Since its inception almost 50 years ago, The Shepherd Centre has enabled over 2,000 children to develop spoken language and experience social inclusion.

Media contact: Jo Wallace, Senior Communications Manager, 0407 201 394 or [email protected]