New annual plan to tackle Indigenous ear disease released
Published Saturday, 10 September, 2016 at 01:30 PM
Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
The Honourable Cameron Dick
For the first time in Queensland, the health, education and early childhood sectors will combine in a joint annual plan to fight ear disease and associated hearing loss impacting Indigenous children.
Queensland’s new 12-month action plan to improve the ear and hearing health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children was released today.
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said the Deadly Kids, Deadly Futures Action Plan 2016-17 was an important step in the Palaszczuk Government’s landmark 10-year commitment to closing the gap in health and education outcomes for Indigenous children.
“The Deadly Kids, Deadly Futures: Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Ear and Hearing Health Framework 2016-2026 launched in March 2016 aims to prevent and manage the high rates of middle-ear disease and associated hearing loss,” Mr Dick said.
“Hearing problems can have a major effect on a person’s journey through life and sadly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have one of the highest rates of middle-ear disease in the world. This often means they have a conductive hearing loss.
“What is worse is that middle-ear disease, or otitis media, is most common in the earliest years of a child’s life, when hearing is crucial to development and learning.
“The 2016-17 action plan outlines 18 practical initiatives Queensland Health, the Department of Education and Training and non-government service providers will undertake to ensure Indigenous children across Queensland have healthy ears and can listen, learn and reach their full potential,” Mr Dick said.
“These initiatives will lead to measureable and practical on-the-ground service improvements across the health, early childhood and schooling sectors”.
Minister for Education Kate Jones said the early childhood and schooling initiatives in the 2016-17 action plan ranged from developing child health resources for early childhood education and care providers, to advocating for amendments to the Building Code of Australia.
She said the plan also seeks to develop information-sharing protocols between schools and local healthcare providers so teachers can provide targeted support to children with ear and hearing health problems.
“The commitment demonstrated by our non-government partners, in particular the Queensland Catholic Education Commission and Independent Schools Queensland, to introduce consistent service delivery and workforce improvements across the schooling sector, has been very helpful.”
Matthew Brown, Director of Children’s Health Queensland’s Deadly Ears program responsible for coordinating the delivery of the 2016-17 action plan, said there was a strong focus on supporting primary healthcare providers to embed ear and hearing health into all primary healthcare provided to children.
“Many primary healthcare providers, including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health sector and the Royal Flying Doctor Service are strong supporters of Deadly Kids, Deadly Futures 2016-2026 and have committed to undertake a range of activities to strengthen health promotion, prevention and primary healthcare management,” Mr Brown said.
“Early management of the disease in the primary health setting, including ensuring ear and hearing health screens are included in all routine child health checks, is the best way to ensure children can hear, talk and learn.”
The Deadly Kids, Deadly Futures framework builds on the foundations of the award-winning Deadly Ears program which had seen considerable improvements in Indigenous child ear health over the past eight years.
Since launching the statewide service, the team has conducted more than 12,200 assessments of children at ENT clinics in remote and rural areas and provided ear health training to more than 1,000 local service providers across Queensland.
The 2016-17 action plan is available at: www.childrens.health.qld.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/deadly-kids-action-plan.pdf
Minister Dick - Laura Gowdie 0413 492 117
Minister Jones - Matthew Jutsum 0408 998 940