Hearing service cut dismays MLA

MANDURAH MLA David Templeman is appalled that a well-used service for children in Mandurah has been cut by the Barnett Government.

“We learned this week that Health Minister Kim Hames has cut funding for the Telethon Hearing’s Ear Health program despite the fact that the service recently received an ‘outstanding’ rating during an independent review,’’ he said.

The service is used by local schools and detects hearing problems in children early so they can be treated promptly.

Mr Templeman said Riverside Primary School and Riverside Education Support Centre valued the service and it would be “sorely missed” if funding was terminated.

He said Riverside Primary had used the Earbus since 2011.

Aboriginal students with consent had been screened in both schools since then.

The screening has been on a term basis with full screening in Terms 1 and 3.

More than 50 students have been screened at the school this year, Mr Templeman said.

A Child and Adolescent Community Health (CACH) spokesman said the service agreements between CACH and Telethon Speech and Hearing would expire on December 31.

However, the ear health program for Aboriginal children in the metropolitan area would continue.

A new program starting from Term 1 next year would deliver ear health services using existing and new positions within CACH.

A comprehensive review of the ear health program identified the same services could be delivered internally at a reduced cost via existing school health services and new dedicated ear health staff. From Term 1, ear health services would be delivered by a dedicated ear health team co-ordinated by CACH and would provide ear health services to primary school aged Aboriginal children in the metropolitan area.

The spokesman said services would be provided to all metropolitan schools with a significant number of Aboriginal children and also to a large proportion of those children who were hard to reach or had difficulties accessing ear health services.

The new service model and the introduction of a new ear health co-ordinator role would provide co-ordination for the programs, which would include follow-up programs for children recommended for further ear checks.