Earbus pledged in the Kimberley

KIM KIRKMANBroome Advertiser

State Opposition Leader Mark McGowan has pledged to expand a program diagnosing inner ear infections in children to the Kimberley; a move he says would improve behaviour, education and give children a better chance at life.

Earlier this year a parliamentary committee reported “third world” rates of hearing loss among Aboriginal children in the Kimberley and Pilbara had prompted some schools to install classroom speaker systems and use sign language interpreters.

“What you find is, amongst indigenous kids, massive levels of hearing loss, and that’s because inner ear infections go undiagnosed,” Mr McGowan said last week.

“In the Kimberley it is far more prevalent because the Aboriginal population is far higher than any other part of WA.”

Mr McGowan said indigenous children’s susceptibility to middle ear infections created hearing problems and could lead to learning difficulties and behavioural problems.

“You’ve got to diagnose it early and fix it early and that allows them to excel at school, allows them to hear and fixes a lot of behaviour,” he said.

If elected, a WA Labor Government will provide $3.6 million over three years to expand the Telethon Speech and Hearing Earbus program to the Kimberley region.

The Earbus program is a network of mobile clinics that travel throughout the State to screen children’s ear health and hearing.

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