Actor Luke Carroll and musician Emma Donovan are getting behind a Hearing Australia campaign to prevent and reduce hearing loss in children through free hearing checks.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children have some of the highest rates of ear disease and associated hearing loss globally.

Hearing Australia’s new campaign, ‘Hearing Assessment Program — Early Ears’, or HAPEE, aims to address this through early prevention efforts.

Through the HAPEE campaign, all First Nations children who are not yet in full time school are eligible for a free hearing check. The service is available across Australia in urban, regional and metro areas.

Wiradjuri man, acclaimed actor and Play School presenter Luke Carroll said campaigns like this are vital, as they encourage regular hearing checks for children.

“Hearing is a big part of our development as people, as humans beings,” he said.

“The crucial early stages of a kid’s life, with learning, education is a big part of that, and speech.”

“That’s why we’re rolling out this campaign with Hearing Australia to make sure our young kids … especially the ages from zero to six get those regular hearing checks.

“It’s free as well for the kids, all you do is go to your Doctor and you’ll get that free hearing check.”

Gumbaynggirr, Dhungatti, Yamatji and Bibbulman woman and musician Emma Donovan said regular ear checks helped to detect her youngest child’s hearing loss early on and allowed for better support for her, too.

“From birth, my daughter has had regular appointments with Hearing Australia,” she said.

“I had a lot of questions. I was a little bit frightened and I was unsure about things. What Hearing Australia did for me and my daughter was help us to understand more about her deafness and what kind of deafness it was.

“My biggest concern was always worrying about my daughter’s learning ability with hearing loss and the impact it might have on things that I want to teach her. I want to teach her traditional songs in language. That’s important for me to pass down to my kids.’

The HAPEE program was also created in collaboration with representatives from Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hearing health sector.

“With the support of the Australian Government, Hearing Australia is increasing its focus on improving the hearing health of all Australians through the prevention of avoidable hearing loss,” said Hearing Australia Managing Director Kim Terrell.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to reduce the rate of hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children by at least half by 2029.”

By Rachel Stringfellow