Summary

This report presents information on ear and hearing health outreach services funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and delivered by the Northern Territory Department of Health between July 2012 and June 2015 to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the Northern Territory.

Service delivery

  • In 2014-15:
    • 2,904 outreach audiology services were provided to 2,421 children and young people
    • 937 ear, nose and throat (ENT) teleotology services were provided to 860 children and young people
    • Child Hearing Health Coordinators (CHHCs) conducted 569 visits to 550 children.
  • From July 2012 to June 2015:
    • 6,964 outreach audiology services were provided to 4,427 children and young people
    • 2,737 ENT teleotology services were provided to 1,872 children and young people
    • 1,604 children were seen at 1,777 CHHC visits.

Hearing health status

  • In 2014-15, 46% of audiology service recipients had hearing loss at their latest service, and 29% had a hearing impairment.
  • Of the 1,237 children and young people who received 2 or more audiology services from July 2012 to June 2015, a total of 984 (80%) had hearing loss at their first audiology service. Of these, 44% experienced functional improvements in their hearing by their last service (33% gained normal hearing capability at their last check, and 11% improved from bilateral to unilateral hearing loss).
  • Among the 626 children and young people with a hearing impairment at their first audiology check, the severity of impairment improved for 56% at their last check, remained at the same level for 37%, and deteriorated for 6%.

Ear conditions

  • In 2014-15, of the 2,410 children and young people who received an audiology or ENT service, 64% were diagnosed with at least 1 type of ear condition (a slight increase from 61% in 2013-14)-most commonly otitis media with effusion (OME) (24%).
  • There were 1,505 children and young people who received 2 or more ENT or audiology services from July 2012 to June 2015. Of these, the proportion diagnosed with at least 1 ear condition decreased from 78% at the first service to 72% at the last service.
  • Among the 1,820 children and young people who received 3 or more audiology or ENT services between August 2007 (when hearing health services funded by the Northern Territory Emergency Response Child Health Check Initiative started) and June 2015, the proportion diagnosed with at least 1 ear condition decreased from 79% at the first service to 52% at the last service-an overall decrease of 27 percentage points.
  • Among audiology and ENT service recipients diagnosed with chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM) with discharge or CSOM without discharge at an initial service, there were some improvements-the proportion with no ear conditions at their latest service was 23% of those initially diagnosed with CSOM with discharge, and 33% of those initially diagnosed with CSOM without discharge.