Community education and services are a big part of the purpose of Ear Science Institute Australia. We aim to reduce the growing numbers of Australian’s suffering from irreparable hearing loss through education and for those who have existing hearing loss, we strive to improve their quality of life and provide suitable strategies to assist them.
Our prevention programs include our school program and regional WA health program. Cheers for Ears is our school program which is presented within Western Australian primary schools and educates children on the dangers of unsafe listening levels and how to reduce their risk of hearing loss through noise induced hearing loss. In the past 12 months, the program reached over 3100 children in Western Australia.
Our regional program, Healthy Ears, is an initiative of Ear Science Institute Australia, Australian Government Department of Health and Rural Health West. The program enables qualified medical services providers from Ear, Nose and Throat surgeons, to audiologists and nurses to visit remote and rural areas of Western Australia, providing greatly required services. Given the large prominence of Otitis Media, a major cause of hearing loss in over 90% of Indigenous Australians, the program aims to educate the local residents of rural communities and provide services and training to ensure ongoing care.
Ear Science Institute Australia also works closely with the Lions Hearing Foundation to provide community hearing screening services to the Perth metropolitan area. Over 900 people were tested for hearing loss in 2015 and where required, were referred on for further assessment to prevent any further hearing loss and provide solutions to assist with better hearing. Hearing Awareness Week is a government initiative to promote education, prevention and access to services. This year, Ear Science Institute Australia provided specialised education sessions and hearing services to the community. We also produced a range of educational videos on communication strategies for those with hearing loss in varied situations. The videos were provided to general practitioners and our patients throughout the Ear Science network to encourage people working or living with people with hearing loss to find new methods of communicating.
The vast majority of our community programs are based in Western Australia, however there is one that allows us to wide reaching in providing support to those who need it most. The Hearing Aid Bank is a joint initiative with the Lions Hearing Foundation whereby we collect donated hearing aids from those who no longer require them or have upgraded to newer models. The hearing aids are then sterilised, recalibrated and distributed back out into the community to those who need them most but are unable to afford their own. This can mean locally but has been as far reaching this year as Indonesia and Africa, in order to provide a difference wherever possible. Community engagement and education is a key strength of Ear Science Institute Australia. We pride ourselves on giving back to the community that supports us and assisting those who are in most need of our services. In the year ahead we will continue to further develop our existing programs and enhance our offerings to the local and wider community through the use of information technology to increase our reach.