Thousands of Aboriginal kids in NT at risk of hearing loss

Thousands of Aboriginal children have outstanding referrals for specialist hearing appointments in the Northern Territory because services have been cancelled.

Key points:

  • 1,200 fewer hearing services have been delivered to Aboriginal children in the NT since 2016
  • More than 6,000 children have outstanding referrals to have their ears checked or problems treated
  • Nine out of 15 youth in the NT’s youth detention centre have a recognised hearing problem

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) NT hearing health report analysed the success of the Hearing Health program delivered to more than 10,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from 2012 to 2018.

Hearing loss and ear disease is considered a public health emergency in the NT by the World Health Organisation because on average it affects 12 per cent of people in Aboriginal communities.

The report said the problem was because of a shortage of specialists available through the Federal Government-funded Remote Area Health Corps.

The shortage meant 2,600 children and young people had outstanding referrals to see an audiology service to diagnose potential ear problems at the end of 2018.

3,484 youth were also overdue for ear, nose and throat appointments, where hearing loss can be assessed and treated.

Menzies School of Health Research professor Amanda Leach has been working in hearing health in the NT and said Aboriginal communities were becoming frustrated with service delivery.

“They’re not being listened to. They’ve had this issue for decades and it hasn’t really improved,” she said.

By Sowaibah Hanifie. Full article at ABC News:…/hearing-loss-affecting-th…/11596888