This report presents the findings from my performance audit of whether key entities are effectively reducing the burden of ear disease for Aboriginal children in Western Australia.
Undiagnosed or untreated hearing problems can create challenges that last for life. They can delay speech development, making it harder to learn. Hearing loss and educational deficits can make work and social interaction more difficult, and cause problems in interactions with government services and authorities.
While most children will experience an ear infection, the situation is much worse for Aboriginal children. The World Health Organization has found the rate of chronic middle ear infection in Australian Aboriginal children was among the highest in the world. For non-Aboriginal Australian children, the rate is one of the lowest.
This is a complex problem with many contributing factors, and identifying and treating the problem involves many entities. State-funded health services must work alongside educators and housing entities, as well as Commonwealth-funded primary health care and non-government Aboriginal health services. For state entities to be effective partners and providers they need good information, clarity on roles and responsibilities, and a clear approach to working together with Aboriginal people to design and deliver the services they will use.