IN­DIGE­NOUS YOUTH IN FO­CUS

Cru­cial new ser­vices avail­able for in­dige­nous youth

Central and North Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE - Adam McCleery adam.mccleery@cnbtimes.com.au

YOUNG Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der peo­ple from the North Bur­nett can ac­cess free hear­ing tests and surgery as part of a new ini­tia­tive by IWC fo­cus­ing on the health and well-be­ing of in­dige­nous youth.

IWC’s clin­i­cal gov­er­nance man­ager Jenni Too­good said ear health is­sues, if left un­treated, could have se­ri­ous im­pacts on learn­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

“The de­liv­ery of this pro­gram, which has a fo­cus on in­dige­nous chil­dren and teens, is un­doubt­edly pro­vid­ing a vi­tal early in­ter­ven­tion ser­vice,” Ms Too­good said.

At the end of a re­cent ses­sion in the North Bur­nett six stu­dents were re­ferred for fur­ther as­sess­ment, treat­ment and con­sul­ta­tion with a GP or au­di­ol­o­gist.

“While we know that around 9% of chil­dren over­all suf­fer from ear con­di­tions in the com­mu­ni­ties cov­ered by IWC’s ser­vices, for Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der chil­dren and teens that fig­ure is much, much higher,” Ms Too­good said.

“It sits well above the 20% mark gen­er­ally, and when we go into some schools it is even higher.”

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween schools and the IWC is a great as­set that al­lows the or­gan­i­sa­tion to iden­tify and then treat hear­ing im­ped­i­ments, Ms Too­good said.

IWC gen­eral man­ager Wayne Mul­vany said IWC saw a high ra­tio of in­dige­nous chil­dren and teens with ear con­di­tions that may re­quire clin­i­cal or sur­gi­cal in­ter­ven­tion.

“These range from is­sues that can be reme­died with a sim­ple sur­gi­cal in­ter­ven­tion, to a need for surgery,” Mr Mul­vany said.

“They all can, if left un­treated, cre­ate sig­nif­i­cant bar­ri­ers to our com­mu­ni­ties’ youth achiev­ing their po­ten­tial.”

The pro­gram will con­tinue un­til June 30, 2017 and was ar­ranged through CheckUP.

This is the first time this ini­tia­tive is be­ing tri­alled.

“Which aims to in­crease ac­cess to sur­gi­cal in­ter­ven­tions for Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der Aus­tralians liv­ing in ru­ral and re­mote lo­ca­tions with di­ag­nosed eye and ear con­di­tions,” Mr Mul­vany said.

Ear, nose and throat (ENT) ex­pert Dr John El­phin­stone, based at the Mater Hospi­tal in Bund­aberg, is work­ing with IWC and CheckUp to help with the sur­gi­cal in­ter­ven­tions for In­dige­nous Aus­tralian youth suf­fer­ing with ear con­di­tions.

Mr Mul­vany said par­ents con­cerned about their child’s hear­ing can re­quest a hear­ing check from an au­di­ol­o­gist, Aus­tralian Hear­ing, or their GP.

Ac­cess is avail­able by con­tact­ing IWC.

You can call 1300 492 492 for fur­ther de­tails.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

TESTS: In­dige­nous Health Prac­ti­tion­ers Kristy Dray­ton and Ni­cole Chap­man use an oto­scope to view this stu­dent’s ear canal and eardrum.

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