As part of World Hearing Awareness Week (March 1 – 7), the Earbus Foundation is urging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have “the worst ear health in the world” to use its free testing service.
Earbus travels across WA providing free checks and ear health care to Indigenous children, particularly in remote and regional communities.
CEO Paul Higginbotham says poor ear health was a major contributing factor to Indigenous people struggling to get a good education and a job.
“Aboriginal children suffer from Otitis Media – middle ear infection – at a rate far worse, and for far longer, than non-Indigenous children,” he says.
“On average, they have it for 32 months of the first five years of life, compared to three months for non-Indigenous kids. It has an adverse impact on every aspect of early childhood development.
“These children are already falling behind by the time they start school. If you want to close the gap in this country, effective ear healthcare for all Aboriginal kids from birth, is vital. It is critical if these kids are ever going to realise their innate potential.”
Mr Higginbotham says he is delighted to see kids who receive treatment flourish at school.
“…They are so much happier without the pain and frustration of poor ear health holding them back,” he says.
“Our close working partnerships with local schools, day-cares and Aboriginal Medical Services are the key to closing the ear health gap.”
Earbus has also formed a partnership with St Pat’s Community Support Centre in Fremantle, helping homeless people suffering from hearing loss.
“People experiencing homelessness already face significant barriers to achieving quality of life and this is further compounded by the effects of hearing loss, which has been shown to increase social isolation and reduce earning potential,” St Pat’s CEO Michael Piu says.
“Through our partnership with the Earbus Foundation, St Pat’s is committed to ensuring our community’s most vulnerable people have access to quality hearing assessments and aids, so that they can reach their full potential through listening and learning, those vital currencies of daily life that many of us take for granted.”
To find out more visit earbus.org.au