It is with great sadness that we inform you that The Shepherd Centre’s inspirational founder, Dr Bruce Shepherd AM, passed peacefully this morning on 25 May 2018 at the age of 85.
As many of our important stakeholders know, Dr Shepherd and his late wife, Annette, were pioneers of their time by introducing life-changing services to children with hearing loss in Australia. 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 with profound hearing loss.
Bruce and Annette would not accept the options that were available to their children. After extensive research, they embarked on a journey to America to attend the summer program at The John Tracy Clinic in Los Angeles. Clearly impressed by this method of early intervention, Dr Shepherd brought this back to Australia. Sadly their own children never truly benefited from this method but this determination led to the establishment in 1970 of “The Council for Integrated Deaf Education” – 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.
Bruce worked incredibly hard in his time and has left more than a legacy. Not only was he a highly respected Orthopaedic Surgeon, Bruce established The Shepherd Centre as it is known today which has enabled thousands of children to develop spoken language and experience social inclusion. This was unheard of when he first embarked on this journey. At that time, children with hearing loss were sent to specialist schools, often as boarders, and taught to sign – thus not giving them the option to participate fully in a hearing world.
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.
In the late 1990’s, Dr Shepherd was also instrumental in lobbying the government to introduce the routine newborn hearing screening test (SWISH program) that takes place in hospitals today. The earlier a child with hearing loss is diagnosed, the better the outcomes and the introduction of the SWISH testing program has been an important part of the incredible speech and language results that children with hearing loss are able to achieve today.
At the request of the Shepherd family, a special ‘In Memoriam’ donation page has been established in lieu of flowers. Should you wish to make a donation to The Shepherd Centre in Dr Shepherd’s legacy, please go to: shepherdcentre.org.au/dr-bruce-shepherd-memoriam.
Eulogies from Dr Shepherd’s public memorial service were streamed live on our Facebook page.
If you would like to send your condolences or message of support to the Shepherd Centre family, please email them to this address and we will pass them on [email protected].