Earbus makes noise at gongs

Sophia ConstantineNorth West Telegraph
Awards presenter Monika Kos with Earbus Foundation of WA chief executive Paul Higginbotham.
Camera IconAwards presenter Monika Kos with Earbus Foundation of WA chief executive Paul Higginbotham. Credit: Matt Jelonek

An organisation focused on reducing the impact and incidence of middle- ear disease in WA children has received the AIM WA WestBusiness Pinnacle Awards’ 2017 emerging business excellence award.

Earbus Foundation of WA has had a major positive impact on the ear health and wellbeing of Aboriginal children, particularity in the Pilbara, since it started its visits in 2014.

The award recognises organisations that have operated for less than five years and have emerged as leaders in their field.

Earbus chief executive PaulHigginbotham said the Pilbara and Goldfields held a special place in the organisation’s heart as Aboriginal communities had the highest prevalence in the world of ear infection.

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He said there had been drastic improvement between the first and last visit to the Pilbara.

“The Pilbara is an interesting challenge,” he said. “The distance and the communities are a little bit different. It’s a region with interesting profile.

“When we first started in 2014, we were basically just visiting Port and South Hedland, Yandeyarra and Warralong.

“In the last couple of years, we have added other areas, such as Nullagine and Marble Bar.

“That was largely at the suggestion of indigenous education managers up there that could see a need for the service.”

During the foundation’s first visits in early 2014, about 54 per cent of children had middle ear disease.

The figures have now dropped to 20 per cent.

Mr Higginbotham said the most important part of the service was building a relationship of trust with Aboriginal people.

“It’s the friendships you develop with the kids and the families,” he said.

“These kids are very real to us, they’re not just faces and numbers to us, they’re the kids our futures are invested in.”

The $10,000 prize money will be directed towards Earbus’ out-reach partner Starlight Children’s Foundation.

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