Organisation: Otitis Media Group trading as Earbus Foundation of WA
Project: Earbus Health Ambassadors Program
Location: Regional locations across WA
Requested Amount: $20,000 from a total project cost of $73,000.
This grant will be used to fund the part time employment of a registered nurse, regional travel and accommodation costs, and materials and evaluation.
Overview: This project aims to educate, train and support young Aboriginal women in regional communities to improve ear health and hand hygiene in their communities.
Who is the organisation and what is their mission?
Earbus Foundation of WA (EFWA) works to reduce the incidence of middle ear disease in Aboriginal and at-risk children across WA. EFWA brings together experts from education, health, culture and communities to support Aboriginal children to succeed at school unhindered by the debilitating effects of ear disease, which can significantly impact learning and educational outcomes.
What is the project that the 100 Women grant will support?
The Earbus Health Ambassadors Program will engage Aboriginal young women aged 12 to 18 who have shown interest in ear disease and health. EFWA will engage these young women via its outreach program, which currently visits more than 120 sites every year. Nurses and clinicians will train and mentor the young women chosen to be ambassadors, teaching them about self-care options for preventing and treating middle ear disease, including good hand hygiene practices. These students will be able to teach hand hygiene and ear health self-care options to children and adults in their local community.
This project seeks to empower young women to recognise their value and consider their employment prospects. Through the program, participants will gain an understanding of the skills required to move forward into health, education or leadership roles.
Who is the project for? Who else will benefit?
The direct beneficiaries of the Earbus Health Ambassadors Program will be young women chosen to participate and undertake Earbus Health Ambassador training. The aim is to train four to five young women in each community.
Other beneficiaries will be children and young people with ear and primary health care needs, along with schools, day care centres, kindergartens and under-resourced medical centres and hospitals.
Why is the project needed – what is the need or opportunity that is being addressed?
Middle ear disease in Aboriginal and at-risk children is exacerbated by factors such as overcrowded housing, inconsistent access to primary health care services, and poor hygiene and nutrition. As a result of COVID-19, many Aboriginal children and families have struggled to access basic hygiene supplies, and while EFWA has distributed some supplies, many schools and communities are still at risk of COVID-19 related illnesses including ear health issues.
Aboriginal and at-risk children need strong and consistent hygiene practices in place to support optimum health outcomes – particularly in the current environment.
This project will respond to the issue of health literacy, particularly while COVID-19 still poses a risk to vulnerable populations, and also meet a need for young women and girls to take on important leadership roles within their communities.
Providing opportunities to this population – for whom there are significant barriers to success – is an important contributing factor to positive feelings of worth and self-esteem.
Why is the solution the best answer to the identified need or opportunity?
One of the most effective ways to communicate health messaging is from within the community itself. Aboriginal Medical Services and local community representatives working in partnership with EFWA can have a direct and positive impact on the ear health, and overall health, of children and young people.
Based on the successful previous delivery of an iteration of this project, EFWA is confident in the ability of the Ambassadors program to deliver positive outcomes across many more communities.
A service provider since 2013, EFWA is well placed to deliver this project in a culturally safe manner. EFWA believes that the delivery of services that are co-designed by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people, in consultation with community and allied services, will ensure that community needs are met.
What impact is planned to occur as a result of the project?
Ear Health Ambassadors will:
- Understand and be able to demonstrate proper hand hygiene;
- Supervise and encourage daily Breathe, Blow, Cough programs;
- Possess the practical and theoretical knowledge required to conduct Betadine washes to treat discharging ears; and
- Mentor younger children to take on the Ear Health Ambassador role.
Educating the young women chosen as Ambassadors is expected to:
- Raise awareness of middle ear disease and COVID-19 related health risks and impacts;
- Increase health literacy to expert levels;
- Empower Ambassadors to become informed partners of EFWA by enabling their siblings and extended family to ‘get well, hear well and learn well’;
- Increase Ambassadors’ self-esteem and sense of self-worth through an important leadership role within their communities; and
- Explore the potential of the Ambassadors and assist in creating tangible paths for future training and employment in education or health.
Overall, EFWA expects there to be a reduction in the incidence of middle ear disease, increased classroom engagement, a reduction in disruptive behaviours associated with hearing loss, and reduced risk of vulnerability to COVID-19 and related health issues as a result of the Earbus Health Ambassadors Program.