Since the mid-1990s, children with hearing loss in Cairns have been empowered to reach their full learning potential with the support of Queensland charity, Hear and Say.
On a recent visit to meet with families in the Far North as part of their Telepractice program, clinicians from the organisation also made time to meet with the local Freemasons, to share how a state-wide grant for half-a-million-dollars from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland is making a difference on the ground.
The grant, handed over earlier this year, will help to cover the funding gap to deliver critical early intervention services, ensuring continuity of support for deaf children throughout Queensland for the next year – till the full financial impact of the National Disability Insurance Scheme is known in late 2018.
Carpentaria District Grand Master Henry Condon said hearing directly from the Listening and Spoken Language Specialists that deliver this life-changing support to local children was invaluable.
“It’s not until you speak with those at the coalface that you get a true understanding of the impact this state-wide grant is having on children in our community,” Henry said.
“We were pleasantly surprised to learn that Hear and Say’s Telepractice service has been proven to be just as effective as receiving face-to-face support, considering that this is how many families in the Far North access these vital programs,” he said.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled that this grant, which was made on behalf of the Freemasons of Queensland, will contribute towards efforts to empower children with hearing difficulty, not just in our community but throughout the state, to hear, listen and speak and go on to lead independent lives like their typically hearing peers,” said Henry.
Collectively, the grant will mean that 200 children across the state will continue to have access to Hear and Say’s Audiology Services, and 300 children can take part in the Early Intervention Program.
Hear and Say Chief Executive Officer Chris McCarthy stressed how important essential listening and spoken language therapy is to a child’s development.
“It can take up to six years to teach a profoundly deaf child to listen, process language, and speak, using the latest technology and an Auditory-Verbal Therapy approach, so it’s vital that our services remain accessible – for children to be ready for mainstream schooling,” Mr McCarthy said.
“We are extremely grateful for this funding from Hand Heart Pocket. Without this, Queensland children could miss out on vital services and programs that build their potential.”
“We also thank the local Freemasons for their show of support for our local Hear and Say, families. It truly means a lot to them to know the local Freemasons are supportive of the grant.”
Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said providing sustainable support to charitable initiatives that have limited access to other funding sources was the organisation’s focus.
“Our values are centred around empowering people to lead better lives,” Mr Mark said.
“Support for education initiatives for children with a disability aligns with Hand Heart Pocket’s long-term strategy, and we are delighted that this partnership is enabling more children in the Far North and throughout Queensland to have a future which will not be limited by their hearing loss.”
Photo: Carpentaria District Grand Master Henry Condon, Hear and Say, Clinical Manager – Listening and Spoken Language Jessica Balfour-Ogilvy, Hear and Say, Acting Senior Clinician Amy Russell and Carpentaria Deputy District Grand Master Raja Chohan.