Olivia Andersen’s Q&A:  Hear For You and the Integration With The Shepherd Centre

Member FAQs

Why do we as Members need to vote on this process?

The Hear For You Constitution requires a vote by the Hear For You members.

Will there be any redundancies, reductions to hours or changes to responsibilities for HFY staff?

No redundancies or reductions to hours, some TSC people will have some changes to responsibilities. The Hear For You services (mentoring and mental health website & referrals) will be continued on by the current HFY staff and TSC staff will also provide support for the HFY services. The HFY CEO David Brady’s role will cease however he is joining TSC in a new role, and our founder Olivia Andersen is also joining TSC and continuing to support the HFY services.

How are HFY Staff and Board learning more about TSC and their team?

We have been having group meetings over the recent months involving all the HFY team and many of the TSC staff (across the TSC departments of Clinical, Fundraising, Operations & I&A). HFY staff attended and presented at the TSC Tuesday morning VC sessions and at TSC fortnightly staff meeting. The HFY team joined TSC staff at the Clinical & Staff Day on 21 April 2021.

Who HFY are informing as part of the Integration process?

Outside the two organisations, we are implementing a structured plan to communicate this to:

  • Our families & participants, current & past (TSC to TSC families, HFY to HFY participants)
  • Donors and supporters, current & past (TSC to TSC families, HFY to HFY participants)
  • Hearing Australia (TSC and HFY together)
  • First Voice (TSC and HFY together)
  • NDIS EC Partners & LACs (TSC and HFY together)
  • Itinerant teachers (TSC and HFY together)
  • Cochlear (TSC and HFY together)
  • Macquarie University (TSC and HFY together)
  • Deafness Forum of Australia (TSC and HFY together)
  •  Deaf Society NSW/Deaf Services (TSC and HFY together)
  • Commonwealth and State Politicians (TSC and HFY together)
  • Media (TSC and HFY together)

What if HFY staff don’t want to continue in the integrated organisation?

Any HFY staff can of course resign as normal, however because their employment terms and responsibilities will continue, voluntary redundancies aren’t available.

HFY currently offers mentoring in Auslan – will that change?

The current Auslan support will continue (a small proportion of HFY participants use Auslan); TSC now and in the future supports children achieving their best whether that is with spoken or signed language. As now, TSC will not be teaching Auslan as they aren’t specialists in it. We will continue working with the Deaf societies and NextSense to support families who need Auslan.

Do we expect push-back from the Deaf societies because of TSC’s spoken language focus?

It is possible that the Deaf societies may be upset, worrying that support for participants who use Auslan will be stopped. This will not happen.

Do we expect push-back from the other First Voice centres because we’ll be offering national services?

We do not expect this and we are currently working with the First Voice centres in the other states (WA, South Australia, Queensland) to introduce and/or grow the Hear For You services in each state.

Who will the HFY staff report to in TSC?

HFY staff will join the relevant departments in TSC, mainly the Clinical team.

Would the integration create a financial risk for TSC?

There is no appreciable risk as far as we can tell. HFY mentoring services are sustainable from the NDIS income they generate and the mental health website and referral system that is funded under a Department of Health grant. HFY also has cash reserves that will move across to TSC.

What systems will be used for fundraising, services, accounts, etc?

All of the general activities will move across to TSC systems, however service-specific activities (mentoring, etc) will continue to use the HFY systems. The details of the systems will be worked out over the coming months.

Can Hear For You not integrate with The Shepherd Centre?

The main reason for integration is to combine the strength of HFY (programs, mentors, founder, staff, and cohort) with the strength offered by TSC (business operations, marketing, information technology, and alumni contacts) to be in a position to expand the reach of Mentoring programs to more young deaf Australians.
HFY do have the capacity to continue as a stand alone entity, however, with limited resources to support the vision of our founder to reach all young deaf Australians, this goal will take longer to achieve than being integrated into TSC.

We spoke with Olivia Andersen, founder of Hear For You, about the integration with The Shepherd Centre and what it means for her.

Who is the founder of Hear For You?

I am the founder of Hear For You as well as a graduate of The Shepherd Centre. I was diagnosed as profoundly deaf at 8 months of age and connected immediately with The Shepherd Centre.

When was Hear For You founded and why was it started?

Hear For You was started in 2007 because there wasn’t a mentoring program available for teenagers with hearing loss in Australia. I understood the challenges that deaf teenagers face and wanted to do something about it to help teens to be the best they can be and to realise their dreams. 

What was the long term vision for Hear For You? 

When I came back from overseas, as part of my Churchill Fellowship, I had the vision that Hear For You would spread its wings around Australia and offshore to New Zealand. The main goal was to connect as many teenagers as possible with mentors who have been there, done that. 

What do you love most about Hear For You now?

I am thrilled and proud to say Hear For You has a dedicated team who work hard to deliver programs to metro, rural and regional areas in Australia.  Hear For You is now one of the most innovative and inclusive organisations having managed to stay ahead of technology trends and adapt quickly to changing times.

What have been some of the greatest achievements along the way?

Personally, I think winning the Australian Government National Disability Award was one of the greatest achievements along the way. This not only felt incredibly rewarding, but at the same time it warms my heart when I see deaf teenagers go on to live the life they aspire to.

Another achievement was receiving feedback from parents and teenagers about how much our programs have helped them, which demonstrates the value of having deaf mentors supporting deaf teens. 

What is the long term vision now (in relation to the integration)?

My vision now is to create long-term financial stability and grow a base of individuals who will help increase our reach to meet the needs of more young Australians with hearing loss.  Hear For You has already helped hundreds of teenagers along their journeys, so increasing our mentoring programs will allow us to help even more deaf or hard of hearing teenagers reach their full potential in life.

The Board and I believe The Shepherd Centre with its similar values and vision to improve the lives of children, is the best fit for Hear For You as we are for them. Together, this move will enable Hear For You to take the next step towards realising my vision to reach all deaf and hard of hearing teenagers across Australia with the resources we always strive to have.

Will you have future involvement in the organisation?

As for my involvement, I am looking forward to working within The Shepherd Centre with Hear For You towards realising my vision.  I still hold The Shepherd Centre close to my heart. It gave me a wonderful start to life all those years ago and so I look forward to continuing my passion for the organisation. I would also like to ensure a smooth integration and a bright future for both The Shepherd Centre and Hear For You.