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The Shepherd Centre [virtual] Graduation Ceremony, Canberra [Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley]


I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and pay my respects to their elders, past and present.

As Joint Patron (with David) of The Shepherd Centre, I’m delighted to be part of this year’s graduation ceremony. David is unavailable today but has asked me to pass on his best wishes to all of you.

Sitting here, watching and listening to the stories of the graduates as told by their parents has been a truly uplifting experience. Thank you to the parents for sharing those very personal stories. What a journey you have all been on.

These wonderful outcomes don’t just happen. There’s an enormous amount of time and energy invested on the home front — and behind it all is The Shepherd Centre.

The Centre’s early intervention programs that enable children with hearing loss to develop clear spoken language are a godsend. So, I especially want to acknowledge and thank all at The Shepherd Centre — the medical professionals, the supporters, the volunteers and the donors — for helping to improve the lives of children who are deaf or have hearing loss.

Despite the obvious challenges of the past year, you have had a remarkable 2020.

Sixty-two children will graduate from The Shepherd Centre early intervention programs this year. Importantly, almost all will have speech and language that is equal to or better than the average for a child with no hearing loss.

And most of the graduating class will go on to attend a regular Primary School in 2021. That’s an outstanding result and reflects the inclusiveness of modern Australian society.

In closing … you are wonderful people and represent all that is good in our society. David and I are privileged in our working lives to meet so many Australians who give selflessly of their time and expertise to help others.

Put simply, you bring sunshine into people’s lives. That is a wonderful gift to give. Thank you.