Strong ears, Strong Futures: Healthy hearing starts at home

Monday, 29 June 2015

As the mother of five children, all under the age of 12, Kobi McKenzie-Ingrey is no stranger to looking after sick kids. Like most mums and dads, she makes regular trips to the doctor for treatment and check-ups as part of the regular routine of raising a family. However, after reading the Care for Kids’ Ears campaign resources, Kobi was alarmed at just how serious a health condition Otitis Media can be.

This motivated Kobi to become an ambassador for the Care for Kids’ Ears campaign, which has been designed and produced by the Australian Government to increase awareness of ear disease and hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Otitis Media (also known as ‘ear disease’, 'glue ear' or ‘middle ear infection’) is a common disease in children. Its prevalence, recurrence and degree of infection are significantly higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children than non-Indigenous Australians. Left untreated, ear infections can lead to hearing loss which may well limit a child’s capacity to develop socially and emotionally and adversely affect their educational outcomes.

 “I've got all these children and I didn't realise how important it is until I read the resources, and my eldest child is 11,” says Kobi. “My daughter has an ear infection right now, and previously, I wouldn't have thought to look for the different signs of ear infection. Now that I know, I looked for the signs the other day and I could see that she was scratching around her ear, so I’ve picked it up straight away and she’s started on antibiotics.”

The Care for Kids’ Ears campaign is the first national campaign to target Indigenous ear disease and is part of the Australian Government’s commitment to improving eye and ear health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It includes visual learning products such as activity books, memory cards and colouring-in sheets. There are also a variety of easy-to-understand information that ranges from how to spot and treat ear infections, to useful tips on encouraging kids to clean their ears and blow their nose, vaccinations and eating healthy foods.

The Care for Kids’ Ears resources for Parents and Carers, Early Childhood & Community Groups, Teachers and Health Professionals can be downloaded or ordered from the Care for Kids’ Ears’ website: http://www.careforkidsears.health.gov.au/