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November 14, 2002

Project tackling indigenous hearing problems

From: ABC Regional Online, Australia
Nov. 14, 2002

A new project will be launched today in Bathurst in order to address hearing problems experienced by many Aboriginal children.

The Mid-West Health program is called "Burray Galang Wudha Galang" - "children's ears" in the Wiradjuri language.

It is based on statistics showing up to 10 times more Aboriginal children suffer from the middle ear infection otitis media than non-indigenous children.

Today's launch will see the unveiling of FM amplification systems in three pre-schools at Bathurst, Cowra and Lake Cargelligo.

Project coordinator Paul Elbourne says the sound system is a simple, cost-effective way of amplifying the words of a teacher, without them sounding like a loudspeaker.

The amplifiers involve a set of speakers placed around the walls of the classrooms and a small microphone attached to the teacher's clothing.

"Otitis media is [in] essence a lifestyle illness. It's considered a disease of poverty and unfortunately a lot Aboriginal families fall into that low socio-economic category," Mr Elbourne said.

"Otitis media causes fluctuating hearing loss in early childhood and what we're trying to achieve here is to prevent learning and language delay that has life implications later on."

ABC Online

© 2002 ABC