Sixteen Aboriginal health workers undertaking a Diploma in Audiometry have been welcomed to campus for their first face-to-face teaching block.
The students hail from all over NSW, including regional and remote areas, and received scholarships as part of a Medical Research Future Fund grant for a project being led by Professor Catherine McMahon from the Department of Linguistics.
The project, ‘Improving care pathways for otitis media (OM) in Aboriginal children’, aims to involve Aboriginal communities in co-designing a pathway for Aboriginal families to feel supported in seeking treatment for middle-ear disease.
If left untreated, middle-ear disease can result in long-term hearing loss, which can reduce educational opportunities and go on to affect every aspect of a person’s life.
For the project, the research team has partnered with three Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) in urban, regional and remote NSW, and most of the students come from these ACCHOs.
The 12-month diploma includes four face-to-face teaching blocks, for which the University has partnered with TAFE NSW. The first block was due to take place earlier in the year, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
As part of the course, the students are taking part in audiometry measurements at Mia Mia childcare centre, being trained in first aid, learning how to recognise the signs and symptoms of OM, and learning how to promote cultural safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
While on campus, the students are being supported by Walanga Muru. A welcome event was opened by Associate Professor Boe Rambaldini, a proud Bundjalung man and Director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney, which is a collaborating organisation on the MRFF grant. Dr Leanne Holt, a Worimi/Biripi woman and Pro-Vice Chancellor of Indigenous Strategy at Macquarie, also welcomed the students to campus.