Jan 2018 Cairns Post

The sounds of their tropical home will become much clearer for 16 children from Yarrabah who have gone under the knife to improve their hearing. Several health organisations united to assist the indigenous children with day surgery in Cairns under the federally funded Eye and Ear Surgical Support Services program. Children ranging from 2-15 years of age were treated for a series of hearing impairments, including perforated eardrums and middle-ear infections.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience some of the highest levels of ear disease and hearing loss in the world. Rates are up to 10 times more than those for non-indigenous Australians. Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Aboriginal Corporation nurse Dannielle Gillespie said, due to Yarrabah’s relatively remote location, it was difficult for parents to get their children to doctors. She said an initial list of 200 children needing hearing loss surgery had to be whittled down to the list treated at Cairns Day Surgery.

Karen Leeman Registered Nurse Karen Leeman prepares 7 year old Dallas Sands for surgery on a perforated eardrum.

“Hearing loss in Yarrabah is right across all kids,” she said. “Basically, if the perforations in the ear are not fixed, then that has a future roll-on effect with their speech, their education, their learning abilities – even their social skills, it starts affecting that, too.” Yarrabah mum Zoe-Ann Sands’ daughter Dallas, 7, had surgery yesterday. Ms Sands said she was thankful her daughter would finally have better hearing. Funding for the surgery was provided to health advocacy group CheckUP by the Commonwealth Government.


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