Call to retain vital service

Ear Bus Foundation of WA Clinical Services director Lara Shur, Kwinana MLA Roger Cook and Ear Bus Foundation of WA chief executive Paul Higginbotham. d411635
Ear Bus Foundation of WA Clinical Services director Lara Shur, Kwinana MLA Roger Cook and Ear Bus Foundation of WA chief executive Paul Higginbotham. d411635

The program, which operates in Armadale, Rockingham, Kwinana and Mandurah, tests and treats Aboriginal children for glue ear.

Glue ear can lead to debilitating health problems and contributes to children falling behind in school.

Opposition Health spokesman Roger Cook quizzed Health Minister Kim Hames on the apparent funding cut, but Dr Hames said there was no suggestion from him or his staff that the funding should not continue.

Mr Cook called on Dr Hames to guarantee funding so the southern metropolitan service could continue.

‘I am not providing a guarantee because I have not made the decision,’ Dr Hames said in Parliament.

Mr Cook said cancelling the Ear Bus program would set back efforts to improve Aboriginal health and literacy. ‘The prevention of glue ear not only stops debilitating health problems, it helps them hear, pay attention in school and get an education,’ he said.

Ear Bus Foundation chief executive Paul Higginbotham said the foundation was interested in taking over the service and would see if the department would offer the contract for tender.

A Telethon Speech and Hearing representative said the organisation was still contracted to provide ear health services at select schools in the eastern metropolitan area and the South-West.

The Ear Bus is run by Telethon Speech and Hearing.