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Monday, 19 October 2015
Page: 11675

Ms HALL (ShortlandOpposition Whip) (11:21): We have heard excellent contributions to this debate. I thank the member the Parramatta for bringing this important issue to the House and the member for Reid for sharing his personal experiences with the House, including the challenges of being a father to a hearing impaired child and the challenges for a hearing impaired child.

From 17 to 24 October is National Week of Deaf People. It is important to note, as the member for Parramatta outlined in her motion, that one in six Australians are affected by hearing loss and that there are approximately 30,000 Auslan users. It is projected that, along with the ageing of our population, by 2050 one in four people will be living with hearing loss. I strongly support the issues that the member for Parramatta raised in her motion, particularly the issues around Auslan. I call on the government to do a little bit more in parliament in that space. We should regularly have an Auslan interpreter in the gallery during question time so that people who are hearing impaired can understand what is happening—not just if they are watching the text on their screens at home. If they are in the gallery, it can be hard to follow.

For a very long time in my previous life I worked as a rehabilitation counsellor. I worked with people that had hearing impairments. On Sunday I bumped into one of those people. She has had children and is now thinking of undertaking study to learn Auslan, teach others and work as an Auslan interpreter. But I want to concentrate a little bit today on the Tingira Centre—or the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children Hunter, as it is now been renamed.

The Tingira Centre, which was opened in 1991, has a number of programs and provides a lot of support for people in the Hunter who have a hearing impairment. It has a preschool program, which I will talk a little bit more about in a moment. It has five hearing impaired children and 10 other children from the community. It works very well and concentrates on integrating and promoting understanding of hearing impairment in the community.

The families who are part of the early learning program, which is what I wanted to talk about first—there are 27 children with a hearing impairment, and eight children in that program also have vision loss—have weekly individual sessions and they have input consultation with a transdisciplinary team. These teams concentrate on things like family education and home intervention because a lot more work is actually done in the home than at Tingira Centre, which is what I will continue to call it. It helps establish goals and to develop speech and language. This is an excellent program. It works with education and development psychologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and orthodontists.

This is a vital service, a vital program that is provided in my local community and I would like to pay tribute to everybody who works there and to the organisations who have given it support over a long period of time. There is also an early learning group, where the families have the opportunity to network and the opportunities extend to the children to set social goals. There are great forums for parents to sit down and talk about issues that have an impact on all of them. There is also a program where allied health provide support for students once they attend school. It is an opportunity for speech therapists and OTs and physios to work with them. Teleschool works with people outside the area. All up, the Tingira Centre, or the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children, is a wonderful organisation that operates in the Shortland electorate. (Time expired)