Hear­ing the call

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By KATE LEAVER

A PAS­SION for indige­nous chil­dren’s health­care has earned au­di­ol­o­gist and UWA PhD stu­dent Chris Bren­nan Jones the Premier’s Stu­dent Sci­en­tist of the Year Award.

Mr Bren­nan-Jones’s ears pricked up when he heard ear health in indige­nous chil­dren was a “mas­sive pub­lic health prob­lem re­quir­ing ur­gent at­ten­tion”, ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

An indige­nous ear health pro­gram co-or­di­nated by Mr Bren­nan-Jones in the East Pil­bara has al­ready led to an over­all im­prove­ment.

The team found that 70 per cent of chil­dren in East Pil­bara com­mu­ni­ties had ev­i­dence of ear dis­ease in at least one ear.

Mr Bren­nan-Jones has spent the past three years work­ing on his PhD fo­cused on im­prov­ing ef­fi­ciency hear­ing health­care in WA. He said he was ini­tially shocked at the gap in health­care for re­mote com­mu­ni­ties.

“I did my train­ing in the UK so when I came back, set­ting up this pro­gram was one of my first ex­pe­ri­ences with indige­nous health; it was a bit of an eye-open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for me,” he said.

Mr Bren­nan-Jones said there was still a long way to go de­spite break­throughs with re­mote health­care.

“Hear­ing af­fects ev­ery­thing we do, from so­cial and emo­tional de­vel­op­ment to ed­u­ca­tion and be­havioural de­vel­op­ment,” he said.

“I think the most re­ward­ing part is see­ing a child who was with­drawn and not en­gaged putting their hand up and be­ing able to par­tic­i­pate in the classroom af­ter their hear­ing is fixed.”

Keep­ing busy with work as a se­nior pae­di­atric au­di­ol­o­gist at Princess Mar­garet Hos­pi­tal, re­search at the UWA Ear Sciences In­sti­tute and work as an hon­orary re­search fel­low at Telethon Kids In­sti­tute, Mr Bren­nan-Jones said he felt hon­oured to be recog­nised.

The 2016 Premier’s Science Awards win­ners will be hon­oured at an Au­gust 18 cer­e­mony dur­ing Na­tional Science Week.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d457390

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