Childrens Hearing Linked to Social Disadvantage
  • Dec 8, 2016

Childrens Hearing Linked to Social Disadvantage

It is now understood that chronic ear disease and the resulting deafness is a major cause of social disadvantage.

If a child can't hear it is difficult to learn, it's difficult to gain an education or a job.

Striking rates of hearing loss in people in juvenile detention - quite striking rates.

ABC RN Geraldine Doogue

Associate Professor Kelvin Kong
Dr Kelvin Kong - first aboriginal surgeon - ENT specialists describes it as a pandemic of deafness. In discussions with Geraldine Doogue on Saturday Extra Dec 3 2016

Discharge in the ear - Gooey Ear

Fluid in the middle ear - every kid in Australia experiences this issue but when it is not treated and looked after the complications associated with it can create long term issues.
Common complication is a hole or perforation in the ear drum with puss coming out - not to mention the hearing loss associated with it.

Trouble At School

Trouble at School

Children with hearing issues tend to drift away at school and end up not concentrating because they can't hear. These kids oftne get categorised a certain way leading to over representation in the juvenile justice system.
The long term trajectory of kids could improve if these issues are detected and treated early.

Surgical/Speech pathology

Speech issues are exacerbated when a child is not hearing sounds made in the early years.

There are a number of issues that need to be looked after -:

  •   medical silos
  •   educational silos
  •   surgical silos

If looked at sporadically on a piecemeal basis major issues are missed - need a more holistic approach.

Health Statistics

Australia is one of the 3 best countries in regards health OECD.
Conversely ear health has especially appauling statistics -  Aboriginal Health under WHO (World Health Organisation) has its own ear category (chronic discharge).
Blame is often levelled at the family or the community - but what are we doing wrong? These are vulnerable communities.

Spending money at the wrong end of the spectrum and not in the first part of life where we can change somone's life.
What can change someones life?
Chronic ear disease - community engagement - project 5-15 years time.
Public education required to prevent children slipping through the cracks due to misdiagnosis.

Hearing Loss in Juvenile Justice System

Hearing loss in the juvenile justice system - need to make sure there are screening processes, care to pick up hearing loss.
By not hearing kids get frustrated with resulting misinterpretation of the behaviour.

A study of Darwin and Alice Springs correction centres indicated 94% of Aboriginal inmates with hearing loss.

How to correct the problem
If an anatomical issue eg perforation address this problem.
Corrected through hearing rehabilitation and/or hearing aids.

One community had only one child without a perforated ear drum.
Almost normalised the situation that kids had cotton wool in their ears because of puss running out of ears. Normalising poor ear health is a problem.


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