Naaguja mum-musician Emma Donovan urges support for Federal Government ear health HAPEE program for kids

Headshot of Lisa Favazzo
Lisa FavazzoGeraldton Guardian
Emma Donovan and her daughter Jirriga Councillor, 4.
Camera IconEmma Donovan and her daughter Jirriga Councillor, 4. Credit: Supplied

Hearing loss and ear disease affect one in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Now one Naaguja mother and musician is calling on families to get behind a Federal Government program picking up ear health issues early.

On Sunday, Hearing Australia launched a campaign to encourage First Nations parents to access the ear health project Hearing Assessment Program Early Ears.

Open to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children under six who haven’t atten-ded school yet, the program is available at 240 locations country-wide — including in Geraldton and Wiluna — thanks to a $30 million Australian Government investment in First Nations ear health.

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A TV and radio push to take up the opportunity will feature Emma Donovan, a Naaguja and Gumbaynggirr woman whose father Neville Councillor is from Geraldton. It also features her daughters Kwilena Councillor, 2, and Jirriga Councillor, 4.

Ms Donovan has been on stage and in front of the camera since she was a little girl, appearing first with her family band The Donovans and now with The Putbacks — as well as several other acts in between.

The cause has a special place in Ms Donovan’s heart, with the program detecting her daughter Kwilena’s hearing loss early, making way for quick intervention. “Good hearing makes such a difference to how kids interact with family, friends and community and to how they learn at school,” she said.

“They also need good hearing to learn about our 60,000-year-old history, our beautiful stories and our enduring culture and connection to country.”

Hearing Australia’s managing director Mr Kim Terrell said: “With the support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services across Australia, we’ve helped over 8000 First Nations children aged 0-6 over the past 12 months. This is in addition to the services we provide to some 10,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults each year.

“Together, we’re making progress in helping more children to listen, learn and talk.”

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