The Earbus Foundation of WA and the Wirraka Maya Aboriginal Health Service in Port Hedland have formalised their existing close working partnership by signing a Memorandum of Understanding.

The MOU supports the close collaboration between EFWA’s Earbus team and Wirraka Maya’s primary health care staff, particularly in relation to shared visits to Warralaong Community in the Pilbara. EFWA and WMAHSC have also run a highly successful joint ENT Clinic at their South Hedland Centre with more clinics planned for the future.

Wirraka Maya staff travel with the Earbus Team on our monthly visits to Warralong and provide continuing care between Earbus visits with their weekly clinics on site. The partnership also extends to supplying and dispensing much needed prescription medications.

Wirraka Maya has also generously made equipment available which has allowed the Earbus Team to be in multiple sites at the same time. Our thanks go to June, Karen, Melinda, Tania. Stephen and WMAHSC colleagues for their support, valuable advice and encouragement.

Picture Above: Dr Aanand Acharya testing new satellite phone donated by Marcus and Elizabeth Good



Earbus Foundation staff are taking part in NAIDOC activities in two regional locations this year to celebrate our partnerships with Wirraka Maya and Bega Garnbirringu Aboriginal Medical Services. In Port Hedland, Dee Parker and Paul Higginbotham set up an Earbus Foundation stall and offered free hearing screening at Wirraka Maya’s wonderful Family Day. Our thanks to Karen Glenn, Steve Magwenzi and Sethu Raman for the invitation and support on the day.


In September the Earbus Team will support NAIDOC Celebrations at East Kalgoorlie Primary School, offering access to the Earbus, hearing tests, screening, education and awareness information for families, staff and children. NAIDOC is a great way to meet extended family members like grandparents as well as other service providers working in Aboriginal Australia.

NAIDOC started as the National Aborigines Day Observance Committee (NADOC) but it wasn’t until 1974 that the Committee consisted entirely of Aboriginal people. In 1975 the event expanded to become a week of celebrations, from the first to second Sunday in July. NADOC expanded to recognise Torres Strait Islanders and is now the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC).

pictured below: EFWA Audiometrist Dee Parker setting up the Earbus stall at NAIDOC Port Hedland and CEO Paul Higginbotham with Karen Glenn from Wirraka Maya AMS



Detailed plans will soon be announced for Earbus Foundation services to Aboriginal communities in regional and remote centres across WA for the second half of 2014.

The first half of the year saw EFWA on the road for 5 months of intensive work in Aboriginal communities in WA’s Goldfields and Pilbara regions. Over 12 visits our professional team worked at 16 sites - 9 in the Goldfields and 7 in the Pilbara, bringing screening, GP, audiology and ENT treatment to hundreds of children. Our primary health care approach was delivered in partnership with Bega Garnbirringu AMS in Kalgoorlie and Wirraka Maya AMS in Port Hedland.

This culminated in the first EFWA surgery list at Hedland Health campus on 26 June with ENT Aanand Acharya. We are pleased to report 7 children were listed, all attended and all seen and treated on the day. Visits for the regions recommence in late July, firstly in support of ENT Francis Lannigan’s Kalgoorlie clinic.



May was a busy month for the Earbus Foundation professional team with first-time visits to schools and communities in both the Goldfields and East Pilbara regions of WA. Towns serviced in the Northern Goldfields included Menzies, Leonora and Laverton with two EFWA teams on the ground providing Audiology, GP and ENT. In support of the Primary Care team our Audiometrists supplied identification and continuing surveillance. With the help of the local pharmacy and Community Clinic in Leonora we were able to get medications dispensed quickly and on-going care arranged for children at Leonora District High School.  Great organisational efforts from the School Principals Lesley, Ian and Jonathan meant we saw 170 children in two days. In East Pilbara two new sites at Tkalka Boorda in Port Hedland and the Community School at Strelley were visited with ENT and GP available for immediate consultations and treatment. Our thanks to Wirraka Maya Health Service for their fantastic support with medications and equipment.



A new ENT and Audiology Clinic in the southern suburbs of Perth launched in May at Moorditj Koort in Medina with ENT Professor Harvey Coates and EFWA Audiologist Lara Shur.


Moorditj Koort is a community-based Aboriginal health and wellness centre catering to families in the Rockingham and Kwinana area. Organised by Clinical Services Manager Colleen Inoue RN, the clinic attracted a great mix of local adults and children accessing ear health services at this location for the first time.


Pictured below is the EFWA team of Professor Coates (centre rear) and Lara Shur (right) with Moorditj Koort staff and family.




Earbus Foundation of WA and Bega Garnbirringu Aboriginal Medical Service in Kalgoorlie have started their ear health partnership rolling in fast and furious fashion. At the recent March visit ENT Dr Hannah North ran a busy ear clinic with 60 Bega clients listed for specialist appointments. At the same time EFWA screeners began identification testing at three Kalgoorlie primary schools seeing hundreds of children for whom schools had obtained consent. Each school also received a GP and ENT visit on site to triage and diagnose children needing further referral. The Bega Garnbirringu mobile GP clinic bus was deployed across the different schools to provide a safe and professional testing environment and EFWA audiologists were available to do on-the-spot diagnostic work. Clinical staff had same day access to the Bega dispensary so that Aboriginal children requiring medication were supplied quickly and the medication was dispensed back through the schools for tracking and administration. A great start to our Goldfields working partnership.




Earbus Foundation of WA has been successful in securing substantial Commonwealth Government funding to provide ear health services to regional WA, commencing from February 2014. EFWA CEO Paul Higginbotham was excited by the prospect of building on the extensive consultation work done throughout 2013. “We have forged excellent partnerships with Aboriginal Medical Services, the ENT community and Education Department offices in the regions. We are looking forward to working in partnership with WA Country Health Services to enhance screening and treatment for Aboriginal children throughout the regions” said Mr Higginbotham.

EFWA Director of Clinical Services, Lara Shur will lead the EFWA professional team in planning and delivering the new services. “We are focussed on providing high-quality, innovative ear health for the regions” said Mrs Shur, who has extensive managerial and clinical experience across both WA and NT.  “Our aim will be to deliver the Commonwealth the best value possible for their investment of ear health funds in the Earbus Foundation.”



The Earbus Foundation of WA has completed the exciting move into its new premises and from the start of 2014 our operational base will be at 53 Curtin Avenue, Cottesloe. We are moving into the historic premises previously occupied by the WA Institute for Deaf Education as part of an agreement with the WA Foundation for Deaf Children. This heritage-listed building has been the spiritual home of deaf education in Western Australia for over a century.

EFWA has two offices for staff, access to meeting rooms and other shared facilities and is looking at utilising the excellent audiological facility on site to deliver services to families and children in the near future. The move is part of an innovative Centre for Families concept being developed by the WA Foundation for Deaf Children in partnership with a range of community organisations working in the field of childhood deafness.

New telephone number (with voicemail) for Earbus Foundation is (08) 9385-3557 extension 107.



Earbus Foundation ‘s Paul Higginbotham (pictured) and Lara Shur presented a well-received keynote address to the National Indigenous Health Conference held in Cairns from November 25th to 27th. Voted the best presentation on the Conference’s opening day, EFWA presenters showcased the Earbus as a model of collaborative social impact and outlined how programs are destined to fail unless they plan around the five key elements of collaboration. Based on the work of researchers Kania & Kramer in the United States the EFWA team’s presentation detailed how the Earbus model includes the five key elements required for working together to address complex social issues like Aboriginal ear health.

The WA Earbus Program was designed as a sophisticated and collaborative primary care model under Ken Wyatt’s leadership at the WA Office of Aboriginal Health.  Before implementation the model was workshopped with Indigenous educators to ensure all children could be reached, treated and tracked until they had healthy ears and could hear well



Tuesday 12 November saw the launch of the Earbus Foundation of WA with an exclusive sundowner at Gargano’s Ristorante in Claremont. EFWA CEO Paul Higginbotham welcomed guests and spoke about the need for a charity with a sole focus on Aboriginal children’s ear health. The Foundation’s Clinical Patron, Professor Harvey Coates, spoke about the need for Earbuses all over Western Australia. Carol Dowling, Chairwoman of Noongar Radio, touched all the guests’ hearts when she spoke about the ear infections her son Jamie had endured and her work to raise awareness among Aboriginal people of how devastating ear disease is on children’s lives and futures. A video of Jamie talking about his experiences with middle-ear disease was a crowd stopper and drove home how middle-ear disease has robbed generations of Aboriginal children of their potential. Guests included  shadow Minister for Health Roger Cook, Liberal MP Liz Behjat, WA Chief Scientist Lyn Beazley, John and Jenny Vukman and Peter and Robyn Briggs.




Earbus Foundation staff’s recent visit to New Zealand produced some great insights and ideas from how the original Earbus works and treats ear disease in young children. EFWA CEO, Paul Higginbotham and Lara Shur, Director Clinical Services, visited programs in Auckland, Waitakere and Kaikhoe to see the Kiwi Earbus in action and compare notes on operational matters.


New Zealand was the originator of the model that inspired ENT specialist Professor Harvey Coates to source funding and support for the Australian Earbus from Variety WA in 2005.


“It was a really valuable insight into how the District Health Boards deal with their high rates of middle-ear disease in iwi (indigenous) populations,” said Mr Higginbotham. “The Kiwi buses are fitted out differently and provide different services from their Australian cousins so we came away with some interesting new ideas and perspectives.”


EFWA sees the NZ visit as a valuable benchmarking exercise and a building block for continuous improvement in local service excellence.

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