24 March 2021
Middle ear disease can impact a child’s ability to listen, learn and reach their full potential, and is far more likely to impact Indigenous children. That’s why we’re helping the Earbus Foundation deliver their outreach program in Newman and the Jigalong community.
While middle ear infections are common in all children - particularly those under the age of five - Indigenous children have ten times the rate of ear disease of non-Aboriginal children. And if left untreated, ear infections can cause totally preventable hearing loss.
Thanks to the support of BHP, the Earbus Foundation now has a great new resource in the fight against ear infections – a new, fully customised and equipped earbus.
Earbus Foundation CEO Paul Higginbotham said the bus, built in Perth and delivered to the region last month, serves as a mobile children’s ear clinic based in Newman and providing vital checks and medical care to surrounding communities.
“The new Earbus Program to schools in Newman and Jigalong Community commenced mid-2020 with regular monthly visits of nurse, audiologist, GP and data entry officer. The new Earbus will further increase our capacity to serve communities in the region, thanks to the generous support of BHP.
“The Earbus Foundation mission is to eradicate middle ear disease in Aboriginal and at-risk kids in Western Australia. Children who can’t hear, can’t learn. Hearing early, when it counts most, lets children learn and hopefully navigate a career path towards a successful life.
“The BHP Newman Earbus joins our fleet of 10 vehicles based in Kununurra, Bunbury, Paraburdoo, Kalgoorlie and Perth. Thank you and congratulations to students from South Newman Primary School whose art adorns the new vehicle,” said Mr Higginbotham.
The artwork on the Newman Earbus was created by students from South Newman Primary School, giving it a distinctive local identity and making it instantly recognisable.
South Newman Primary School Principal Katie Wallace said: “For children to be able to hear stories passed down from their elders and to access the school curriculum, being able to hear properly is vital. Creating an opportunity where our most vulnerable children have support to learn, be healthy and have a brighter future is the greatest gift we can afford our children.”
BHP General Manager, Newman Operations, Marie Bourgoin added: “We are proud to support this important health service for Newman and surrounding communities. Ear health is critical for learning, and it’s fantastic that local children have provided the artwork for the BHP Earbus.”