Ear health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

All children have the right to be able to hear well.

However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience some of the highest levels of ear disease and hearing impairment in the world.

A leading cause of preventable hearing loss is ear infection, which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience from an earlier age, more often and for longer durations, and with more ongoing complications than other children.

In a bid to improve the early detection of ear disease and hearing loss among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in South Australia, Flinders University Research Fellow, Dr Jacqueline Stephens, has received a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant to work with Aboriginal organisations and Aboriginal Health Workers  to analyse current approaches to ear health screening programs for this group of children.

“The aim of this project is to understand the experiences of Aboriginal Health Workers and stakeholder agencies delivering ear health programs in South Australia, to identify strengths and gaps in the delivery of these programs and use this evidence to inform strategies to enhance ear and hearing screening among Aboriginal children,” Dr Stephens says.

“Ear disease and hearing difficulties in early life have lifelong consequences for children’s speech and language development, school preparedness and quality of life.

“So, it’s imperative ear health screening programs are optimised to detect and treat ear disease early to reduce the long-term impact on health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

It’s imperative ear health screening programs are optimised to detect and treat ear disease early to reduce the long-term impact on health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples


Research category: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

Project title: The role of Aboriginal Health Workers and Practitioners in the early detection of ear disease and hearing impairment among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Lead researcher: Dr Jacqueline Stephens

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