Hearing Australia partners with community spokespeople to ensure First Nations kids are school ready

One in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience chronic ear disease in Australia1. Poor hearing can make it difficult for kids to engage and learn at school and Hearing Australia is encouraging parents and carers to get their kids checked for the 2022 school year. 

To reach communities across Australia, Hearing Australia’s HAPEE Ears for Early Years program is partnering with local spokespeople and community services to improve the hearing health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. 

New HAPEE Spokesperson Elsie Seriat, is a proud Torres Strait Islander woman and mother and says early hearing checks are critical. 

“It's really important that kids get their ears checked early at the start of the school year which we know is a critical time for them to learn and grow,” she said. 

Elsie highlights that there is greater flexibility for parents to access hearing checks.

“Booking a hearing check is easy and now with telehealth appointments you can have a hearing check anywhere in Australia. That’s important for families who may not have access to services nearby, to be able to phone up and get that initial consultation,” Elsie said. 

All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0 – 6 not yet attending full time school are eligible for a free* hearing check. 

HAPEE Community Spokesperson Daniella Borg, a proud Noongar woman residing in Perth, WA has also joined forces to promote the importance of hearing health and early learning. As a mother of 9 and grandmother of 10, Daniella has firsthand experience in ensuring children get the best start in life with healthy hearing.  

“For children to get the most out of their education they need to be able to engage meaningfully in their learning. Hearing trouble can prevent them from enjoying and succeeding in school,” Daniella said. 

Daniella and Elsie will join HAPEE spokespeople Luke Carroll and Emma Donovan, in raising awareness about the importance of children getting hearing checks.

Managing Director of Hearing Australia, Mr Kim Terrell, acknowledges the important milestones the HAPEE program has achieved as it approaches its third year. 

“Since 2019, Hearing Australia has conducted hearing checks for 12,778 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,” Kim said. 

“Unfortunately, around one in four have had undiagnosed ear disease or hearing loss and have needed clinical help,” he continues.  

As well as providing free* diagnostic assessments, HAPEE aims to upskill and support primary care providers, early education staff, and parents and carers with the ability to identify, manage and monitor potential hearing loss in young children.

“With the ongoing support of the Australian Government and our partners, we are dedicated to significantly improving the hearing health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Kim said.

Resources are available for parents and educators to support hearing health through the HAPEE Ears for Early Years program. Visit https://www.hearing.com.au/HAPEE for more information. 

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*The Hearing Assessment Program is an initiative of Hearing Australia and funded by the Australian Government. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids aged 0 - 6 not yet attending full time school are eligible to be seen. All services provided under this program are free of charge. A hearing check includes a number of age-appropriate tests of hearing and middle ear function.

References
1 Health, A.G.D. (2019). Roadmap for Hearing Health - Hearing Health Sector Committee. [online] www1.health. gov.au [Accessed Sep. 2020].

Background

Hearing Australia’s HAPEE Ears for Early Years program is dedicated to the prevention, early detection and treatment of hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0 – 6 not yet attending full time school. 

HAPEE uses world leading hearing screening resources developed by the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL), the research division of Hearing Australia, to identify hearing problems earlier in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. NAL developed the Parent-evaluated Listening and Understanding Measure (PLUM) and the Hearing and Talking Scale (HATS) in collaboration with Aboriginal health and early education services.

Media Enquires:
Tori Phillips
33 Creative
0478 787 065
media@33creative.com.au 

Melanie Berenger
Hearing Australia 
0414 607 581 
Melanie.Berenger@hearing.com.au