The evolution of St Dominic’s Centre

St Dominic’s Centre, Mayfield, has responded to the changing needs of the community, accepting enrolments for students with either a primary disability of moderate cognitive disability or who are deaf or hard of hearing.

St Dominic’s was founded 145 years ago by the Dominican Sisters in response to the need for a high quality education for students who were deaf or hard of hearing.

Sister Mary Gabrielle came from Ireland to Waratah to set up what would become a thriving school for girls who were deaf or hard of hearing, with up to 250 girls enrolled as boarders??  during its early years.

As the needs of the community changed, it became clear it was time for the school to evolve. This saw the introduction of enrolment opportunities for students with moderate cognitive disabilities.

Philosophy of Total Communication

Under St Dominic’s philosophy of total communication, students are encouraged to interact and communicate in ways that are most effective for them. Students’ modes of communication may include verbal, signing (AUSLAN and key sign language), visuals or assistive technology.

This strengths-based approach is not only highly beneficial for students, giving  them the greatest chance to  achieve their full potential; it allows both moderate cognitive and deaf or hard of hearing students to be taught coherently together in class.

Specialist Staff

With staff who are proficient in AUSLAN and key sign language, these modes of communication can be adopted throughout the school’s teaching on a needs basis.

The school also has a range of other specialists on-site including a speech therapist, occupational therapist and school psychologist who all work closely with staff and other external specialists.

St Dominic’s also has close links with Hearing Australia and its representatives regularly visit the school to provide feedback and insights to staff.