Release type: Media Release

Date:

Boost to Northern Territory Hearing Health Services

Ministers:

The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for Education
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Minister for Social Inclusion

Joint Media Release with:

The Hon Warren Snowdon MPMinister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Services Delivery

The Hon Karl Hampton MLCNorthern Territory Minister for Central Australia

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Federal Minister for Indigenous Health Warren Snowdon and Northern Territory Minister for Central Australia Karl Hampton today announced a $1.8 million funding boost to help improve Indigenous hearing health in the Northern Territory.

Hearing problems that go untreated have a profound long-term impact on educational outcomes and employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians in the Territory.

Speaking following visit to a hearing booth at the Alice Springs Hospital, Ms Gillard and the Rudd Labor Government was committed to improving hearing health for Indigenous Australians through the delivery of effective and coordinated hearing health services.

Up to 9,000 Indigenous people in the Northern Territory are seriously affected by ear disease and more than a quarter of all Indigenous students suffer from hearing loss.

Ms Gillard said the funding will significantly strengthen the Territory’s ear health workforce and improve detection and management of hearing health problems for Indigenous Territorians.

The investment will provide:

  • Follow-up hearing checks and treatment of ear disease for more than 600 children across the Northern Territory.
  • Testing that will help address middle ear infection, which is a major of cause of hearing loss.
  • Visits by audiologists to more than 22 communities that have been equipped with hearing booths (specially made sound proof rooms to enable accurate hearing testing).
  • Five additional hearing case managers in regional teams in Central Australia, Barkly, Top End Central, Top End West and East Arnhem, to support management of people with complex ear health problems.
  • Four additional local community hearing workers to service Gunbalanya, Angurugu, Umbakumba, Gapuwiyak, Maningrida and Millingimbi, bringing the total to 12 community health workers in the NT.

Mr Snowdon said the Rudd Government was paving the way for a network of workers in hearing health services across the Territory who will roll out a new approach to hearing case-management and coordination activities.

“A key element of the new service will be the employment of five regional case managers to support the supervision of people with complex hearing problems in Central Australia, Barkly, Top End Central, Top End West and East Arnhem,” Mr Snowdon said.

“The service will make use of the network of 22 hearing booths established through the Northern Territory Emergency response and will work through NT Government and Aboriginal Medical Services,” he said.

Northern Territory Minister for Central Australia Karl Hampton said that Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) data showed that there was an ongoing need for follow-up audiology services.

“A team of two audiologists will visit the communities that have a hearing booth – each for a minimum of three days – providing a minimum of 20 weeks of service by the end of the year,” Mr Hampton said.

“The services will transport children from surrounding communities to the booths for audiological assessment, with priority to be given to children with an outstanding audiology referral identified by the Child Health Check Initiative,” he said.

The Rudd Government is committed to closing the gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

Hearing Booth Locations

Hearing booths are operational in the following sites:

Top End:

  • Darwin
  • Galiwinku
  • Borroloola
  • Gapuwiyak
  • Katherine
  • Lajamanu
  • Maningrida
  • Ngukurr
  • Nguiu
  • Gunbalanya
  • Angurugu
  • Wadeye*(in construction)

Central Australia

  • Alice Sngs
  • Ali Curung
  • Ampilawatja
  • Epenarra
  • Hermannsburg
  • Papunya
  • Santa Teresa
  • Ti Tree
  • Yuendumu
  • Lake Nash*(in construction)