The PLUM and HATS checklists


The PLUM & HATS checklists

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander bubs have ear and hearing trouble. This often happens during the first few years of life – a critical period of learning. If bubs can’t hear properly, bubs can’t learn to listen, yarn and communicate. This can have a lifelong impact on education, employment opportunities and social life.

However, hearing problems can be fixed if they are detected early. Hearing Australia and our research arm the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL) have worked with Aboriginal health and early childhood services from both urban and remote communities to develop two new tools to help called the PLUM and HATS.

WHAT are the PLUM and HATS?

The PLUM and HATS are simple checklists. They help health and early childhood workers ask parents and carers about how bub’s listening and communication skills are growing. The PLUM (Parent-evaluated Listening & Understanding Measure) has 10 questions and screens for listening problems. The HATS (Hearing and Talking Scale) has 5 questions and screens for communication problems. They are designed for use by people who may not be trained to do hearing or language assessments. Primary health workers and early educators are well positioned to use the checklists with parents to detect children who need referral.

The checklists use a picture format to engage parents or carers to talk about their children’s listening and talking activities in everyday life. The checklists are validated for use with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children below 6 years of age in urban, rural and remote communities. They can be used with families with young children who use any spoken language for communication, working with interpreters as appropriate. Both checklists have accuracy levels of >80%. That is, 8 of 10 children who receive a ‘refer’ result have a hearing or communication problem when they receive professional assessments.

To access the PLUM and HATS checklists

Please go to the PLUM and HATS website at There, PLUM and HATS resources are available for free download, and workers can register and make use of online tools and learning resources at no cost.