World Hearing Day: Early intervention drives lifelong success for deaf children

03 Mar 2017
  • Results of Australian-first study revealed on World Hearing Day
  • Concern over future funding for crucial programs
  • World Hearing Day – Friday 3rd March 2017

The results of an Australian-first study into the education, employment and social outcomes of hearing impaired children who receive early intervention therapy have been revealed today – marking World Hearing Day. The study, completed by First Voice, reveals that around three in five (62%) of those with a hearing impairment who receive early intervention go on to achieve a tertiary level qualification. This compares to only two in five (43.3%) of the general population (1).

In addition, the majority (77%) of respondents have been in regular employment for a period of at least six months between 18-28 years of age (1).

Research conducted by Deloitte Access Economics reveals that for every dollar invested in a First Voice early intervention program, there is a $2.20 return on investment. These benefits include wellbeing, economic gains and financial benefits* (2).

The analysis covered both short term (improvements in wellbeing) and long term factors (increased income due to improved employment and educational attainment, childcare, avoided school costs and other avoided losses). The research demonstrated an estimated saving of over $60,000 in avoided school costs achieved through childhood participation in early intervention therapy (2).

Jim Hungerford, Chief Executive Officer of The Shepherd Centre (a First Voice member centre), said these long-term results reinforce the importance of continued funding for early intervention therapy, particularly as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) rolls out in Australia.

“We now have evidence highlighting the increased productivity and achievements of our graduates not just as they enter primary schools but into adulthood as well. The evidence shows that children receiving early intervention support mature into productive members of society with high levels of education, social participation and full time employment, in spite of their hearing loss,” said Mr Hungerford.

“It is important to ensure that we are setting deaf and hearing impaired children up for lifelong success by providing access to early intervention support services. This is something we are unsure will be provided in the current and future funding arrangements.”

The Shepherd Centre has an extraordinary track record when it comes to giving deaf children access to sound and speech, with over 90 per cent of the centre’s graduates heading to mainstream schools with outstanding communication skills.

Deafness is one of the most common disabilities diagnosed at birth, affecting one in 1,000 Australian babies born each year.

It costs almost $20,000 per year to provide the essential early intervention therapy needed to help just one deaf child learn to listen and speak, and to reach their full potential.

As a charity organisation, The Shepherd Centre relies heavily on public donations to fund over half of this cost. To make a donation to help The Shepherd Centre continue its life-changing programs for children and young people with hearing loss, click here or call 1800 020 030.

*Calculated over a 50 year timeframe.

1. First Voice Report on Education, Employment and Social Outcomes of First Voice Member Centre Graduates (18-28 years). 
2. Deloitte Access Economics. First Voice Cost Benefit Analysis of First Voice’s Early Intervention Program: A sound investment. 2017.

About First Voice:

The Shepherd Centre is a proud member of First Voice, a national alliance of member organisations whose primary focus is the provision of listening and spoken language for children who are deaf or hearing impaired. Established in 2010, First Voice plays a leadership role in shaping public policy and funding decision-making relating to hearing impaired children.

About The Shepherd Centre:
The Shepherd Centre is a not-for-profit organisation specialising in early intervention to help children with hearing loss develop spoken language skills.

Since its foundation, The Shepherd Centre has opened up a world of sound for more than 2,000 deaf children. The organisation is recognised as a world leader in the field of early intervention Auditory-Verbal Therapy, providing families with assistance to develop their child’s spoken language, so they can reach their full potential.

The Shepherd Centre relies heavily upon fundraising and donations to support close to 450 Australian families who turn to them for help each year. Funds raised by The Shepherd Centre help give deaf and hearing impaired children access to critical therapy support to help them learn to listen and speak, and to reach their full potential in the classroom – and in life. 

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