The Australian Greens are using National Literacy and Numeracy Week to emphasise the need for investments which deliver strong learning outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children affected by disproportionately high rates of hearing loss.
“Hearing loss in kids dramatically impacts their ability to learn, particularly basic literacy and numeracy skills,” Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health said today.
“Hearing problems make it harder to participate and engage at school, disengagement from school but can also lead to kids misbehaving, playing truant or being bullied.
“A significant cause of hearing loss in children is a condition called otitis media.
“This middle ear infection is common in kids, but it is affecting Aboriginal children to a more severely than national averages or accepted public health levels.
“It has been estimated that Aboriginal children experience ear disease for an average of 2.5 years in the first five years of life, compared to an average of 3 months for other children.
“The link between a good education, and employment is well understood now, and Government is making significant investment to achieve better outcomes in this area.
“However there are almost no resources being dedicated to early educational programs in literacy and numeracy that can ensure that otitis media sufferers don’t lose vital opportunities in those early years.
“In the last sitting week, the Senate acknowledged the need to tackle poor hearing health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
“There needs to be a commitment for resources by the Commonwealth and State governments that addresses this problem or we will see a continuation of poor literacy and numeracy outcomes for the children suffering from the effects of otitis media,” Senator Siewert concluded.