Another slice of federal funding has been dedicated to improving hearing in Indigenous communities.
The government today committed $29.4 million to extend the Healthy Ears - Better Hearing, Better Listening Program.
Indigenous Health minister Ken Wyatt said the program would be extended until 2021-22, expanding on its successes in communities across the nation.
“Hearing loss can have a devastating and lifelong impact on education, employment and wellbeing,” Mr Wyatt said.
“Since Healthy Ears began just over four years ago, approximately 120,000 children and young adults have received its services in at least 400 locations, with its family approach ensuring far better access to doctors, nurses and hearing specialists.
“Continuing this life-changing work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to stamp out ear disease, particularly otitis media, is one of my top health priorities.”
Healthy Ears focuses on young people until the age of 21, linking health professionals such as GPs, nurses, audiologists and speech pathologists - some of them travelling to remote communities regularly from city locations - with families and schools to prevent and stop the spread of ear disease.
There has been a drop in Indigenous children aged 0–14 years with self-reported ear or hearing problems, from 11 per cent in 2001 to 8 per cent in 2014–15.
The decline in remote areas was steeper, from 18 per cent to 11 per cent.
However, the proportion of Indigenous children with otitis media is triple the rate for non-Indigenous children, with the Northern Territory and Western Australia recording the highest rates of Indigenous children with hearing problems.