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20 October 2014
The Assistant Minister for Health, Fiona Nash, has welcomed a $3.6 million Australian Government funding boost for research into hearing loss prevention.
The new funding, for three innovative hearing research projects, is part of a $539.8 million investment in health and medical research announced by the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott and the Minister for Health, Peter Dutton, today.
“As hearing services is within my area of responsibility I am very pleased that funding from the Department of Health’s Hearing Loss Prevention Programme has been awarded to these projects,” Minister Nash said.
“One of the projects is to help improve the language skills of infants with permanent hearing loss, another investigates a potential way to prevent middle ear infections by targeting bacteria, and a third addresses middle ear infection amongst Indigenous Australian children,” she said.
“One in six Australians is affected by hearing loss, with that figure estimated to worsen to one in every four Australians by 2050.
“Hearing loss has a significant impact on an individual’s capacity to communicate and participate in social situations and can affect a person’s education and employment opportunities.
“These three research projects are exciting, innovative and hold real potential to improve the lives of thousands of Australians.”
Professor Amanda Leach, Menzies School of Health Research, Centre of Research Excellence ($2,499,750)Professor Leach leads the Centre of Research Excellence in Indigenous Children's Healthy EARs, which focuses on middle ear infection, or otitis media (OM). OM is common amongst young children but especially prevalent amongst Indigenous Australian children. The infection can lead to hearing loss if it is not properly treated, which has significant educational and social impacts for the child. This CRE will seek to improve awareness, prevention and treatment of OM in Indigenous Australian communities to ensure better outcomes for Indigenous children.
Dr Lea-Ann Kirkham, University of Western Australia, Project Grant ($431,830)Middle ear infections are the most common reason for a child to be given antibiotics and undergo surgery worldwide. Indigenous Australian children have the highest rates of severe infection in the world, which impacts on speech development and quality of life. Dr Kirkham’s research will investigate new bacterial ways to prevent middle ear infections.
Dr Teresa Ching, Australian Hearing, Project Grant ($678,193)Dr Ching’s research aims to close the language gap between children with and without permanent hearing loss. The team will use a world-first clinical tool to identify infants with the greatest hearing deficits and help them reap the language benefits early cochlear implantation offers.
Media contact: Kay McNiece, Senator Nash’s Office, 0412 132 585