Website to improve hearing loss journey for Indigenous children

31 August 2017

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children diagnosed with a permanent hearing loss now have greater support in accessing vital early intervention services, thanks to a new website launched by Children’s health Queensland today.

The Mipla Binna (‘Our Ears’) website provides engaging, practical and culturally appropriate health information to support a family’s understanding of hearing loss and the care pathways required to ensure their child has the best possible chance of achieving good developmental, learning and communication outcomes.

Children’s Health Queensland’s Child Development Program director Ven-nice Ryan said the website aimed to reverse the higher disengagement rate of Indigenous families from services after a child was referred for diagnostic and early intervention care.

“Indigenous infants referred after their newborn screening are three times more likely than non-Indigenous infants to have an unresolved diagnosis and/or to disengage from the early intervention pathways before 24 months of age,” Ms Ryan said.

“Early diagnosis and access to early intervention is critical in making a difference to the health outcomes for children diagnosed with permanent hearing loss.

“Infants who are diagnosed within three months and engaged in early intervention options
by the age of six months, have a significantly greater likelihood of developing language
and communication milestones comparable to their same-age peers over time.”

Mipla Binna was developed by Children’s Health Queensland’s Queensland Hearing Loss Family Support Service and Child Development Program, in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders.

Mipla Binna provides families with important, practical information on how to cope after a hearing-loss diagnosis, make informed choices about their child’s early-intervention hearing services and better cater to their child’s individual, social and educational needs. It includes video interviews of families sharing their own experiences and offering advice for other families.

The website also supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers, community services and professionals to assist families’ healthcare journeys.

Midwifery student Kyleigh Brown-Lolohea and her husband Ma’ulupe Lolohea, who feature in the videos on the site, have seen and heard first-hand the benefits of early intervention when a child is diagnosed with a hearing loss.

Their daughter Moana-Lynne was diagnosed with bilateral, severe-to-profound hearing loss at birth through Children’s Health Queensland’s Healthy Hearing newborn screening program.

Today, 18-month-old Moana-Lynne’s bilateral cochlear implants and audiology and speech therapy have proven so successful, she is performing above the average range for both her hearing age (seven months) and chronological age.

“It was nothing short of amazing for us to hear her say a few words and sing nursery rhymes,” Ms Brown-Lolohea said.

Kyleigh, who’s of Aboriginal descent, and Ma’ulupe, who’s Tongan, said they were excited about the Mipla Binna’s capacity to assist other families with their child’s hearing loss journey.

“The website will really make a big difference for families likes ours,” Kyleigh said. “The plain language is easy to follow and will help Indigenous families better understand hearing loss and how they can help their child. I like the audiology appointment planning information, too.”

Children’s Health Queensland Chief Executive Fionnagh Dougan said the Mipla Binna website was the latest milestone in Children’s Health Queensland’s commitment to closing the gap in health and developmental outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

“By improving the health literacy and engagement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, via early-intervention pathways, we aim to ensure every Indigenous child in Queensland diagnosed with a permanent hearing loss reaches their full potential,” Ms Dougan said.

The Mipla Binna website was made possible with the support of the Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Hayles Charitable Trust.

ENDS

Note to editors:

The name ‘Mipla Binna’ is a combination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander words.
Mipla is Torres Strait creole for ‘us’, ‘we’ or ‘ours’ and Binna is Aboriginal (North Queensland area) meaning ‘ear’. Mipla Binna translates to ‘Our Ears’.

Media contact:  3068 5608 / 0403 384 442