Since the mid-1990s, North Queensland children with hearing loss have been empowered to reach their full learning potential with the support of local charity, Hear and Say.
Just recently the Hear and Say Centre in Townsville received a visit from the local Freemasons, who met with staff to hear 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.
District Grand Master of North Queensland Les Keane who attended the special morning tea said it was a privilege to hear from those at the forefront of delivering this innovative support to local families.
“It really put into perspective, the impact that this state-wide grant is having at a grassroots level,” Mr Keane said.
“As well as a tour of the facility, we sat down to learn how local children are being empowered to hear, listen and speak, with the help of Hear and Say – going on to have the same opportunities in life as their peers with good hearing,” Mr Keane said.
“We are so proud that this grant was made on behalf of the Freemasons of Queensland, for what it has made possible for children in North Queensland and throughout the state,” he said.
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 at Hear and Say’s Centres in Townsville, Brisbane, Toowoomba and on the Sunshine and Gold Coasts.
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 Townsville and throughout Queensland to have a future which will not be limited by their hearing loss.”
Photo: The Freemasons of Townsville recently visited the local Hear and Say Centre to hear how Hand Heart Pocket’s half-a-million-dollar state-wide grant is impacting local children.