Ear­bus makes noise at gongs

North West Telegraph - - Telegraph News - Sophia Con­stan­tine

An or­gan­i­sa­tion fo­cused on re­duc­ing the im­pact and in­ci­dence of mid­dleear dis­ease in WA chil­dren has re­ceived the AIM WA WestBusi­ness Pin­na­cle Awards’ 2017 emerg­ing business ex­cel­lence award.

Ear­bus Foun­da­tion of WA has had a ma­jor pos­i­tive im­pact on the ear health and well­be­ing of Abo­rig­i­nal chil­dren, par­tic­u­lar­ity in the Pil­bara, since it started its vis­its in 2014.

The award recog­nises or­gan­i­sa­tions that have op­er­ated for less than five years and have emerged as lead­ers in their field.

Ear­bus chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul Hig­gin­botham said the Pil­bara and Gold­fields held a special place in the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s heart as Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties had the high­est preva­lence in the world of ear in­fec­tion.

He said there had been dras­tic im­prove­ment be­tween the first and last visit to the Pil­bara.

“The Pil­bara is an in­ter­est­ing chal­lenge,” he said. “The dis­tance and the com­mu­ni­ties are a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent. It’s a re­gion with in­ter­est­ing pro­file.

“When we first started in 2014, we were ba­si­cally just vis­it­ing Port and South Hed­land, Yande­yarra and War­ra­long.

“In the last cou­ple of years, we have added other ar­eas, such as Nul­lagine and Mar­ble Bar.

“That was largely at the sug­ges­tion of indige­nous ed­u­ca­tion man­agers up there that could see a need for the ser­vice.”

Dur­ing the foun­da­tion’s first vis­its in early 2014, about 54 per cent of chil­dren had mid­dle ear dis­ease.

The fig­ures have now dropped to 20 per cent.

Mr Hig­gin­botham said the most im­por­tant part of the ser­vice was build­ing a re­la­tion­ship of trust with Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple.

“It’s the friend­ships you de­velop with the kids and the fam­i­lies,” he said.

“These kids are very real to us, they’re not just faces and num­bers to us, they’re the kids our fu­tures are in­vested in.”

The $10,000 prize money will be di­rected to­wards Ear­bus’ out­reach part­ner Starlight Chil­dren’s Foun­da­tion.

Pic­ture: Matt Jelonek

Awards pre­sen­ter Monika Kos with Ear­bus Foun­da­tion of WA chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul Hig­gin­botham.

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