Telstra gong is WA charity's second major business prize in 9 months


Perth-based charity Earbus Foundation of WA last night scooped up its second major business award in nine months by winning the WA Telstra Business Award Social Change Maker category.

In November last year, Earbus won the Emerging Business Excellence gong at the AIMWA West Pinnacles Business Awards.

Earbus CEO Paul Higginbotham hailed the win as a high-point in the charity’s five-year existence from start-up to multi-award winner.

“When we made the decision to start as three people round a kitchen table in the northern Perth suburb of Wanneroo five years ago we never in our wildest dreams imagined we would be on that podium last night,” said Mr Higginbotham.

“The start-up space is littered with failed dreams. I’m delighted that our dream of ear health parity for Aboriginal children is alive and well and, with growing support, thriving.”

Mr Higginbotham said that although Earbus Foundation achieved much in its short existence there was still much more to do to achieve that parity.

“Priority plans include securing a bus for the Pilbara Program, extending our Wembley-based hearing clinic for children and looking at new areas that can benefit from their service. We have launched a “Build A Bus” project for the Pilbara which is our major focus over the next few months.

“We have some major sponsors who wish to remain anonymous but we can publicly thank the generosity of the Stan Perron Charitable Trust, AngloGold Ashanti Australia, Minara Community Foundation, Fortescue Metals Group, Atlas Iron and the eastern states-based Neilson Foundation.

This year’s Telstra Business Awards selected the most innovative and entrepreneurial small to medium businesses across four categories. The winners were announced at a gala dinner at the new Westin Hotel in Perth last night (16 August 2018), which makes them finalists in the national Telstra Business Awards in Melbourne in September.

Since 1992, the Telstra Business Awards have showcased some of Australia’s best business talent, with over 45,000 businesses nominated to date.

Earbus Foundation of WA provides regular free ear screenings and health checks to an ever expanding list of primary schools and Aboriginal playgroups at 45 sites across regional and remote WA. It currently provides screening and follow-up services to about 12,500 children a year working closely with Aboriginal Medical Services in regional WA.

“Kids who can’t hear, can’t learn” Mr Higginbotham said “and working with Aboriginal communities and health organisations is the only way to turn this around.”

In its short life, Earbus has developed purpose-designed buses as mobile clinics in the Goldfields, Kimberley, and South West. Each Earbus is emblazoned with the artwork of Aboriginal children in those regions who have received its services.

The Foundation is part-funded through the Australian Government’s Healthy Ears (Better Hearing Better Listening) program in regional WA. It also is delivering a Kimberley Earbus program as part of a WA state government election pledge. The Foundation also generates income from sponsorships, fundraising and public donations.

Earbus Foundation of WA also won the Community Group of the Year Award in the 2016 Regional Achievement and Community Awards and in 2015 was a finalist in the Community Service Excellence Awards.