Hear­ing the work of Dubbo’s Hear our Heart Project

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Bet­ter Lis­ten­ing) pro­gram.

Also, the Lo­cal Health District has ac­cess to this which we have been for­tu­nate to use through our part­ner­ship with them.

The Hear our Heart Ear Bus Pro­gram (HOHEBP) is unique. We have many suc­cess­ful part­ner­ships that help us in our day to day oper­a­tions.

The pro­gram has quite a sig­nif­i­cant point of dif­fer­ence to other screen­ing pro­grams, th­ese are shown in the con­tin­uum pic.

Ed­u­ca­tion is the key as­pect of our pro­gram. We’ve seen the days where the piles and piles of hear­ing screen re­sults sit with­out fol­low up.

Th­ese are chil­dren’s hear­ing re­sults that need the hand-in­hand ex­pla­na­tion to un­pack, to fol­low up, to de­ter­mine the path­ways for sup­port needed for each in­di­vid­ual.

HOHEBP is an award-win­ning, re­spected pro­gram now nationwide. (It) has at­tracted fund­ing from a wide range of sources, in­clud­ing in 2017 from lo­cal coun­cil and state gov­ern­ment (when we were) a re­cip­i­ent of a Com­mu­nity Part­ner­ship grant to fit out the bus.

Our ef­forts to get a slice of the sub­stan­tial pie have pro­vided us, as men­tioned, with a share through a part­ner­ship with the Lo­cal Health District.

The Sig­gins Miller re­port has many rec­om­men­da­tions and HOHEBP cer­tainly meets all of th­ese as we’re al­ways re­view­ing and main­tain best prac­tice pro­to­cols.

We up­date our gov­ern­ment con­tacts and have re­cently pro­vided our lat­est pitch to help deepen their un­der­stand­ing of our work.

We’ve pro­vided cost ben­e­fit in­for­ma­tion which show lo­cal data and demon­strate the worth of our pro­gram as we demon­strate that kids’ ears are worth car­ing for.

Tell us about some of the fam­i­lies the project has helped?

HOHEBP has seen thou­sands of chil­dren and many of them many times.

There are some chil­dren who are quite reg­u­lar visi­tors, some who have been re­ferred to fur­ther path­ways and now wear de­vices to as­sist with hear­ing, as well as many who have had surgery (or mul­ti­ple surg­eries) to amend ear health is­sues.

Many of the fam­i­lies HOHEBP has sup­ported have come so far in their own con­fi­dence and com­pe­tence in car­ing for their chil­dren’s ears.

Ed­u­ca­tion is so im­por­tant with this as­pect – em­pow­er­ing par­ents with knowl­edge and un­der­stand­ing is para­mount to this.

Know­ing about preven­tion strategies as sim­ple as cor­rect nose blowing, hand hy­giene, healthy diet, ear clean­ing/pro­tec­tion are just a few of the key messages.

Know­ing what signs to look for to then think their child may need an ear health check and hear­ing test again are ar­eas we fo­cus on in ed­u­ca­tion for fam­i­lies.

Ev­ery child who has had an ear health is­sue di­ag­nosed or hear­ing loss de­tected has been helped and it’s the con­tin­ued sup­port that’s im­por­tant, as ear health and hear­ing is­sues fluc­tu­ate.

Gen­uine part­ner­ships are over­whelm­ingly im­por­tant in th­ese grassroots ini­tia­tives. Tell us who you’re part­ner­ing with and how that’s mak­ing the dif­fer­ence?

We have mul­ti­ple suc­cess­ful part­ner­ships in many as­pects of the pro­gram. Th­ese range from the ve­hi­cle do­na­tion, fit out, and run­ning right through to our vol­un­teers and au­di­o­log­i­cal staff.

With­out th­ese part­ner­ships we would not be op­er­at­ing. We’re now in our fifth year and through­out that time have seen some as­sis­tance, staff and vol­un­teers come and go.

How did you feel when the Wal­ter and El­iza Hall Char­i­ta­ble Foun­da­tion called you up – was it a hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence?

The ini­tial call from Helen the CEO was a sur­prise, but af­ter she in­tro­duced her­self and ex­plained why she was call­ing we in­stantly be­came very com­fort­able with shar­ing more de­tails re­gard­ing our pro­gram.

Helen had al­ready done a great deal of re­search into oti­tis media and the im­pli­ca­tions of it, es­pe­cially within the Aboriginal com­mu­ni­ties.

HOHEBP is for all chil­dren, so much of our data is re­flec­tive of huge num­bers, but not the high per­cent­age of indigenous as you’d find in other parts of Aus­tralia, we have an iden­ti­fied 43 per cent rate of Aboriginal chil­dren.

We had many in-depth conversations with Helen and her un­der­stand­ing of our pro­gram deep­ened.

We felt she had re­ally gained quite an insight and was very pos­i­tive with praise that the key ob­jec­tives were re­ally rel­e­vant to the suc­cess of the pro­gram.

When we re­ceived the call to hear that The Wal­ter and El­iza Hall Foun­da­tion wanted to part­ner with us with the fund­ing we were quite over­whelmed.

There were tears and per­son­ally I was lost for words.

We are truly hum­bled to be con­sid­ered and, now be­ing the re­cip­i­ent of such sub­stan­tial fund­ing, that will help us to not only con­tinue but now pro­vide sup­port for more chil­dren in our area.

It’s of­ten said that the projects which get grant fund­ing are the ones which can af­ford to hire the best pro­fes­sional grant writ­ers – how im­por­tant is it that or­gan­i­sa­tions such as The Wal­ter and El­iza Hall Char­i­ta­ble Foun­da­tion are do­ing their own re­search to see what projects are gen­uinely ef­fec­tive grassroots or­gan­i­sa­tions and then of­fer­ing to help?

There are cer­tainly no paid grant writ­ers us­ing HOHEBP’S money but we have a great team of vol­un­teers here.

Grant writ­ing is very time-con­sum­ing and, although we’ve had suc­cess over the years, we’ve also had many “we re­gret to in­form you/sorry” let­ters too.

To ac­tu­ally have The Wal­ter and El­iza Hall Foun­da­tion ap­proach us was re­ally sur­pris­ing, but won­der­ful, and it makes sense that fund­ing be di­rected where pro­grams are ef­fec­tive and have proven that they are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence.

We see this as a great pat on the back for worth­while work, at the least.

There’s been such an in­cred­i­ble take-up and sup­port for the HOH project. How im­por­tant is it to get com­mu­nity buy-in, from or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­di­vid­ual fam­i­lies as well as spon­sors, vol­un­teers and sup­port­ers?

Hav­ing been in­volved with Dubbo & District Sup­port for the Deaf and Hard of Hear­ing for now 21 years, (Hear our Heart is one of their projects) I have cer­tainly seen how gen­er­ous our com­mu­nity has been to­wards all of our projects and ac­tiv­i­ties.

We’ve had sup­port for a whole range of ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing camps, as­sist­ing fam­i­lies with travel and ac­com­mo­da­tion, and pur­chas­ing re­sources for par­ent and the teach­ers to ac­cess.

When HOH ini­ti­ated back in 2012, we ral­lied sup­port, hosted some events to pro­mote the project and raise funds, so we’ve come a long way – it’s an ex­pen­sive project to run, but we’ve man­aged to do it.

We like to keep the com­mu­nity in­volved be­cause Oti­tis media re­ally is every­one’s busi­ness – it’s not se­lec­tive and can af­fect any­one.

When a fam­ily has ex­pe­ri­enced their child hav­ing hear­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, it re­ally does open their world to a whole new range of the un­known.

Hear­ing loss is an in­vis­i­ble dis­abil­ity that can have quite dev­as­tat­ing out­comes if not de­tected and then treated or sup­ported with de­vices or in­ter­ven­tion pro­grams – aware­ness is key to un­der­stand­ing what the wide-rang­ing ram­i­fi­ca­tions can be.

We are cer­tainly very thank­ful for the gen­er­ous sup­port we’ve been given by our lo­cal com­mu­nity, in­di­vid­u­als, grant providers, spon­sors and or­gan­i­sa­tions – es­pe­cially now from The Wal­ter and El­iza Hall Foun­da­tion.

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