Rates of ear disease and hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are up to ten times national averages. Otitis media (middle ear disease) hurts children in these communities more than anyone else.
That's why the Greens are announcing our $47 million Caring for Aboriginal Hearing policy to close the gap in hearing health, as part of our comprehensive hearing health plan.
Our plan will provide testing and diagnosis, early language and literacy support, and ongoing evaluation through an exemplar program in up to five communities. This will guide work nationwide to reduce rates of otitis media and help those with the disease.
We'll install sound field systems in new and existing classrooms with a significant population of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children, to help children hear the teacher.
We'll fund training for teachers posted to schools in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, to equip them with strategies to help children who might have a hearing impairment.
Early detection is critical, so that children with hearing impairments can receive treatment and support. We'll call on the Council of Australian Governments to prioritise hearing screenings and follow-up for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from remote communities.