Hayden sisters know how important Ear Health is to Aboriginal families.

Kassy and Chontae Hayden are two proud Ballardong (Noongar) and Badimaya (Yamatji) sisters from Perth, whose family comes from a small country town called Kellerberrin and Merriden. They grew up surrounded by family and the bush on a farm just shy of a town called Westonia, until their family moved to Perth.

Kassy graduated from Emmanuel Catholic College in 2015 having no idea as to what she wanted to do with the next chapter of her life as she felt University was not for her.

Kassy’s career journey began once she graduated high school and began working for a small family-owned business within the mining industry as the Commercial Administrator. It was her role here that manifested her love of people management, client relationships, policies, procedures, coordination and much more. Because of this, she went on to do her Certificate 3 in Business Administration to further her understanding of the organisation as part of a traineeship that the organisation arranged.

In May of 2020, Kassy decided that she wanted a change in her career and was offered a position with Earbus Foundation as the Office & Logistics Coordinator. After hearing about Earbus from her younger sister Chontae and what they did, it was something that resonated with Kassy, and she wanted to be able to contribute in whichever was possible to the goals and focus of Earbus- she was also thrilled to be working alongside her sister. Kassy then stepped into a new role as Outreach Coordinator in April 2022 where she coordinates anywhere between 45-55 trip a year across regional WA. Kassy coordinates the programs for Pilbara (East, South & Central), Goldfields, Esperance and most recently the Carnarvon Region. Coordinating the regions includes (but not limited) to the organising of flights, accommodation, liaising with over 40 schools, the teams on the ground and local community members.

Chontae graduated from St Clare’s School in 2018 originally wanting to study Primary School Education as she had a strong passion for teaching. However, the opportunity arose to work at the Earbus Foundation of WA in early 2019 shortly after graduating. Chontae started off at Earbus as an Outreach Admin working in the Goldfields and Pilbara East regions. In 2020, Chontae was trained to be an Ear Health Screener for the new Metro program at Earbus and she continued doing Outreach Admin and Ear Health screening work until 2021 when she started her new role as the Alcoa Program Coordinator. In August 2021 Chontae went on Maternity leave to have her son, and later in 2022 her daughter as well. Chontae joined back at Earbus in March 2023 as the Southwest, Metro Alcoa Earbus Program Coordinator.

As the Southwest, Metro Alcoa Earbus Program coordinator, Chontae liaises with schools in Bunbury, Australind, Dalyellup and Treendale areas. In the Metro Alcoa program Chontae coordinates with over 35 sites across the Metropolitan region and organises visits throughout the school terms.

The Hayden sisters know how important Ear Health is to Aboriginal families, they were just lucky they were only a 25-minute drive away from Perth city so their parents had access to Ear services. This is why working at Earbus resonates so deeply with both Kassy and Chontae. Both have stated that ‘We know there is Mob out there in communities where they don’t have access to a car or any transportation to get their children to appointments, we love the fact that we can help deliver a free mobile Ear Clinic to our own mob in their community without causing any unnecessary stress.’

Growing up, the sisters experienced lots of issues with their ears, but they were fortunate enough to have access to services so the issues couldn’t progress. Kassy had 7 sets of grommets while being under the age of 11 and also had a myringoplasty and skin graft which she remembers had such an impact on her childhood. Looking back on it now as an adult she is extremely grateful for the commitment of her parents and Doctors/ENT. If it had been left untreated it could have had permanent effects. Chontae was a bit more fortunate than her older sister Kassy and only had about 4-5 sets of grommets and a myringoplasty.

Both sisters are extremely lucky now that they have no ongoing permanent ear problems or hearing loss, although the sisters remember this time as a child as being very isolating.

‘I remember I was always the kid who had to sit out of swimming lessons because my ears hurt, and all the other kids would laugh because they didn’t understand – it was super embarrassing. Summers were the worst because we would have to wear earplugs and headbands every time we went for a swim, so we struggled even harder to hear our friends while playing. When I was around 11, I begged my parents to have the last set of my grommets surgically removed if I was allowed to because I didn’t want to go into high school not being able to enjoy the swimming carnivals’ – Kassy Hayden

‘I was always putting cotton wool I my ear to stop the discharge from leaking down onto my face during school. I remember just hating the fact that I was visually different from all my peers and all the kids used to stare, you never really get used to it.’ – Chontae Hayden

The work Earbus does deeply resonates with both sisters, and they find it extremely rewarding. As Coordinators, they get to listen to each teams’ individual stories of their visits and see all the visit data. Working at Earbus allows both of them to put their skills to good use and contribute to a foundation that makes a difference and is working toward bridging the gap of these important services.

Since commencing services 10 years ago, The Earbus Foundation of WA has recorded significant, measurable improvements in the ear health of Aboriginal children from all across WA. Earbus has created a broader awareness of the impacts of OM by liaising directly with families & schools to educate on the importance of ear health.