The Earbus was the brainchild of ENT Professor Harvey Coates who launched the first Australian Earbus in 2006 with financial support from Variety WA. Professor Coates had seen the Earbus idea in action in New Zealand and could see its potential for targeting and improving the ear health of Aboriginal children in WA.
On average Aboriginal children suffer from middle ear disease for 32 months of the first five years of life, compared to three months for non-Indigenous children. While vaccination programs have been tried and prevention/awareness programs are in place, middle ear disease continues to afflict Aboriginal children at a disproportionate rate.
Earbus mobile ear health clinics offer a model of continuous care to Aboriginal children and young people in schools, daycares, kindergartens and playgroups. The Earbus model provides comprehensive ear screening, surveillance and treatment, with the Earbus employing GPs, Audiologists and ENTs so referral is quick and treatment is seamless.
With three custom-designed buses in the Earbus fleet, the Earbus clinicians visit locations across regional and remote WA - the South West, Kimberley, Pilbara and Goldfields regions. Each location is visited up to 11 times a year so the team can ensure continuous surveillance and follow-up. Our clinical buses are designed to be culturally safe and fun environments for children, with local artwork adorning each bus.
“The idea of the Earbus Program is to take healthcare to Aboriginal people instead of expecting them to negotiate their way through white fella mainstream services” says Earbus Foundation CEO Paul Higginbotham. “This service model was designed by Aboriginal people, for Aboriginal people and it works to keep children in the treatment pathway from first contact to wellness.”