Health and wellbeing

It’s time to get loud!

Shout out your support for children with hearing loss.


Get set to get lairy and don your brightest apparel to mark Loud Shirt Day.

The national fundraising event is on Friday 19 October. Launched 20 years ago, Loud Shirt Day raises money for facilities and programs for children with hearing loss.

The City of Sydney is proud to support The Shepherd Centre in Newtown, a not-for-profit charity that provides early intervention programs and services to children who are deaf and hearing impaired.

Kate Michael and her son Jack. Image: Katherine Griffiths
Kate Michael and her son Jack. Image: Katherine Griffiths

On a recent visit to The Shepherd Centre, we met 11-month-old Jack Bourke, his dad Peter and mum Kate Michael.

Little Jack’s hearing loss was detected in hospital soon after he was born. He’s since been diagnosed with bilateral hearing loss and will soon undergo surgery to have a cochlear implant in his right ear.

Hearing loss hasn’t slowed down the adorable tot, who mum describes as “a delightful happy chappy”.

After researching her options, Kate chose The Shepherd Centre as it offered all the support and services the family needed at one location.

“They are proactive, professional and amazingly caring,” Kate says, as she watched Jack play.

“We are only starting our journey with Jack, but it’s incredibly reassuring to know we are now plugged into this network of experts.”

Heading the award-winning charity centre is CEO Dr Jim Hungerford. The Shepherd Centre won the award for excellence in business at the recent Sydney City Business Awards, while Jim was announced outstanding local business leader of the year.

“Learning that a child has hearing loss can be a traumatic experience for families,” says Jim.

“We need to be both family friendly and professional in our approach because not only are they entrusting the future of their children with us, they are also feeling quite vulnerable.”

The Newtown centre offers counselling, therapy and audiology rooms, video conferencing and even virtual reality facilities that help parents experience what their child’s hearing loss feels like. There is also a large playroom.

“Toys are a critical resource for treatment. Kids have to look forward to coming here every week, and games and playing are a wonderful interactive teaching opportunity.”

The Shepherd Centre is a member of the national umbrella organisation, First Voice, and runs 5 centres in NSW and the ACT, and supports families in Tasmania through video conferencing.

The Shepherd Centre relies on fundraising and donations to support the more than 500 Australian families who turn to it for help each year.

“Sadly with current funding only 50% of Australian children with hearing loss are being supported with early intervention,” Jim says.

Funds raised through Loud Shirt Day will help more families access critical services. Money will also help build a new centre in Campbelltown, which has been identified as an area of need.

“This is all about giving deaf children a voice in the community and making sure they get to lead their best, loud life,” Jim says.

Published 4 October 2018, updated 8 October 2018