29 May 2022

Earbus and Alcoa celebrate one year of boosting children’s ear health

Franklyn Nannup with Ian Brown  Peter Duncan and Scott Harper from Alcoa at 2021 Earbus Partnership launch event
Franklyn Nannup with Ian Brown, Peter Duncan and Scott Harper from Alcoa at the 2021 Earbus Partnership launch event.

During National Reconciliation Week, Earbus Foundation of WA and Alcoa are proud to announce outstanding results for the first year of its partnership to deliver vital ear checks and treatment to children across Kwinana, Peel and the Upper South West.

Earbus has operated in the South West since 2016 and has worked with Alcoa in the last 12 months to expand its reach, serving communities in the local government areas of Kwinana, Murray and Waroona, along with parts of the shires of Serpentine-Jarrahdale (such as Keysbrook and Jarrahdale) and Harvey (including Harvey, Yarloop and Coolup).

This partnership has enabled schools in the Kwinana, Peel and Upper South West to receive the same high-level hearing health care services Earbus currently provides in its already established programs. Community and school engagement has been high with 23 schools and early learning centres joining the program since the beginning of 2021 and new interest expressed by several other sites, who joined the program in 2022.

This excellent level of engagement allowed Earbus Foundation’s experienced clinicians to see 723 individual children, 416 of whom were new children to the Earbus program. In addition, 737 audiology and 196 Nurse Practitioner consults were conducted in 2021 alone, exceeding the goals set by Earbus and Alcoa.

Earbus Foundation CEO Paul Higginbotham said: “We were first invited into the region of Bunbury by Djidi Djidi Aboriginal School in mid-2016. On our first visit, every child bar one in Kindy, Pre-primary, Year 1 and Year 2 had ear disease. 30% of the kids in that school had a hearing loss that was interfering with their ability to learn. This is the sad reality for many Aboriginal children across our state. Since then, the ear health at that school has dramatically improved and this is our aspiration for the whole region through our partnership with Alcoa.”

Alcoa Corporate Affairs Manager Suellen Jerrard said: “Ear infections occur among Aboriginal children at a far higher rate than non-Indigenous children and can have a serious, adverse effect on the ability to learn. It is pleasing to see how this program is already making a real difference to many children both now and for their future.”

While Australia’s overall population has one of the lowest rates of chronic ear disease in the world, the World Health Organisation included a ‘special listing’ for Australia’s Indigenous people alongside its list of the five countries with the highest rates of middle-ear disease.

Earbus Foundation was established in 2013 to deliver world-class ear care in regional and remote communities. Today, it services over 120 sites across Western Australia and has helped thousands of children, deploying inter-disciplinary clinical teams into each region.

Comprising a Screener, GP/Nurse Practitioner; Audiologist and Ear Nose & Throat Specialist, each Earbus team provides a mobile ‘one stop shop’ at locations convenient for communities including schools. Meticulous records and trackable case notes are kept, ensuring children receive any ongoing care and support they need.

With all services together in the one place, Earbus makes sure no stones are unturned in terms of treating ear conditions, addressing the symptoms of ear conditions and preventing a recurrence of ear disease. Earbus works in partnership with a range of organisations including Aboriginal Medical Services, Royal Flying Doctor Service and Starlight Children’s Foundation to provide an extremely effective service through reliable, ongoing checks and treatment.

Through this ongoing partnership with Alcoa, Earbus will be able to continue to help children and their families in Kwinana, Peel and the Upper South West more than ever before.

For further information visit www.earbus.org.au