Tackling the ongoing problem of middle ear disease in Aboriginal children, Earbus Foundation WA has secured $200,000 of funding to continue their life-changing work.

The first organisation to win two Impact100 grants in the same year, the grants will help Earbus travel throughout the Perth Metro area of Western Australia to treat Aboriginal children most at-risk of middle ear disease.

Collaborative philanthropy group, Impact100 WA, pools $1,000 donations from 100 members and a vote decides who receives the $100,000 grant.

This year Earbus was shortlisted for both Impact100 WA and Impact100 Fremantle grants, attracting interest from over 300 donors.

“This Earbus project was clearly important to those two lots of Impact100 donors who chose them out of nearly 100 other applications,” said Impact100 Committee Member, Sophie Chamberlain.

“This is the multiplier effect in action – look at the change we are creating!”

In the first year alone, the two grants will allow Earbus to screen 1,000 children across the greater Fremantle, Midland, Armadale, Kwinana, Rockingham and Mandurah area with new mobile ear health services.

Every Earbus mobile clinic is equipped with:

  • Screening and audiological equipment
  • Ear health screening, treatment and surveillance equipment
  • Specialist clinicians including doctors, audiologists, nurses and Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialists.

The mobile clinics will visit day-care centres and schools in order to engage with and screen as large a group as possible.

Earbus treats Otitis Media (middle ear infection) in particular – which disproportionately affects Aboriginal children across Australia.

In the first five years of their lives, Indigenous children suffer middle ear infection for 32 months – almost three years – whereas non-Indigenous children have the infection for only three months.

Statistics from the World Health Organisation shows the rate of middle ear infection in Australia’s Aboriginal children is the highest worldwide.

Figures in urban schools have even shown 75 percent of all Indigenous children have hearing problems.

The 2010 Senate Inquiry, Hear Us, also recognised middle ear disease as a catalyst for impaired brain and social development and disengagement from education resulting in poor employment prospects.

The Inquiry also identified a causal link between middle ear disease in Indigenous children and their overrepresentation in the justice system.

For Earbus, the solution starts with healthy ears.

“Children who can’t hear, can’t learn,” said Earbus CEO, Paul Higginbotham.

“Hearing early, when it counts most, lets children learn and hopefully navigate a career path towards a successful life.”