BHP and Ear Science to improve health of Indigenous children

Improving long term health outcomes for Indigenous children living in remote communities is the focus of a new partnership between BHP and Ear Science Institute Australia.

Through prevention and treatment of ear disease and hearing loss, the Healthy Ears on Country program aims to improve long-term health outcomes within Aboriginal communities across the East Pilbara region.

Aboriginal children have the worst rate of ear health in the world, with nine out of 10 Aboriginal children experiencing some form of ear disease. If left untreated, this can lead to permanent hearing loss, developmental and speech delays.

BHP will contribute $825,000 over three years to help expand the scope of services available on Country, supporting the purchase of specialist equipment, additional staff, and training for local healthcare providers.

BHP Head of Corporate Affairs Meath Hammond, said: “Access to quality health care is an ongoing challenge experienced by regional and remote communities.

“We are proud to partner with Ear Science to support the amazing work they do in the Pilbara, with a long-term vision to improve the ear health and quality of life for Indigenous Peoples.”

Delivered through the Ear Science Healthy Hearing Outback program, in partnership with Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medial Service (PAMS), the Healthy Ears on Country initiative will provide innovative solutions to hearing care challenges in the region.

Ear Science Ear Health Coordinator, Lucy Mitchell, said: “We are thrilled to have BHP on board. With their support, we can expand and improve care on Country, boost community involvement and ensure the program’s long-term sustainability for the Martu and Nyiyaparli peoples in the East Pilbara.”

The program aims to support the Martu and Nyiyaparli Peoples living in Newman, Jigalong, Punmu, Parnngurr, and Kunawarritji and is expected to directly impact more than 500 children.

Healthy Ears on Country will support Ear Science’s goals of:

· Providing onsite and portable ENT and Audiological equipment for the region.

· Employing two Martu Community Liaison Officers to guide the project team on service integration into the community.

· Enhancing ear health promotion activities to provide culturally safe education and information to the community.

· Building the skills and knowledge of local healthcare providers, in particular Martu and Nyiyaparli clinicians.

· Reducing barriers for individuals requiring surgery in Port Hedland and Perth.

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