July 2019 The West Australian

Ita Butrose

One of Australia’s leading media icons with an eye for fashion, Ita Buttrose, is now “lending an ear” and her public profile to WA’s Ear Science Institute Australia as its new ambassador. Ms Buttrose, 77, said she was keen to promote the institute which had recently been named by the World Health Organisation as a designated Collaborating Centre for the Prevention of Deafness and Hearing Loss. The WHO role, one of only six such positions in the world, gives the institute the task of addressing the epidemic of deafness and hearing loss in the Western Pacific region where more than a quarter of the world’s population lives.

“I’m very impressed with the work that the institute does and the fact that WHO has recognised them for the work they do is great,” Ms Buttrose said. “My father (Charles Oswald) had hearing loss and so did his mother. It’s quite prevalent and many people think, ‘Oh well, it’s just a normal part of ageing’, and in many ways it is but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do something about it.

My father was so stubborn about his hearing loss. We’d have conversations where I’d say something like, ‘The sun’s out’, and he’d say, ‘Yes, I missed the bus’. So we’d be having these completely different conversations. So I finally told him he needed to get a hearing aid and he’d say, ‘Oh I don’t want a trumpet’, and I’d say that they don’t make them like that any more. And then when he finally got a hearing aid he’d complain about all the noise the ‘bloody birds’ were making. He had a love-hate affair (with his hearing aid) but we were able to have better conversations with him, that’s for sure.”

Ms Buttrose, who assured fans her hearing was “perfect”, said there was still resistance to hearing aids. “We are an ageing population and the hearing aids nowadays are so small and so much better, they really do make such a difference to people’s quality of life,” she said.

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