In July, this year, Audiologists Emeritus Professor Philip Newall, Cristy Newall and Suzi Marcos will fly to Samoa and they are looking for used hearing aids that are still in great working order to take with them.

For Philip and Cristy (husband and wife) this will be their seventeenth visit to Samoa to help with the program. Their first visit was in September 2008.  Prior to the first visit in 2007, there were no children fitted with hearing aids in Samoa. This year Suzi Marcos will be a very welcomed part of the team.

Samoa is a group of islands in the South Pacific with a population of around 180,000 people. Children with hearing loss are usually identified by parents, teachers and medical staff as there are no audiologists on the islands. Local staff refer children aged between 10 months and 19 years.

The SENESE Resource Centre for Inclusive Education supports deaf students by supporting teacher’s and teachers’ aides in the mainstream schools, under the banner of inclusive education. Nineteen visits of a week’s duration have been made by Australian teams to Samoa to fit donated hearing aids to children in the period 2007-2016. This initiative was initiated after a request from Donna Lene, principal and teacher of the deaf at the SENESE Resource Centre in Samoa in 2006. The present director, Marie Bentin has continued this initiative.

These visits were begun by a charity called the Carabez Alliance. Prof. Newall was a board member of the Carabez Alliance which as committed to improving rehabilitation services to children with a hearing loss in the pacific islands The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children were also a major supporter of the work.  SENESE is funded by AusAid and the local government. The clinic has been set up in various locations, including three rooms of the local hospital that have little more than a desk in each, with all equipment being bought over from Australia.

One of many success stories

A typical example of the outstanding work by the SENESE team under Dona Lene was to identify as hearing impaired, a 13-year-old girl C.L., who was in a school for intellectually disabled children. Her hearing loss was probably a result of a Rubella epidemic. The inappropriate placement was a result of her inability to acquire language and to follow simple instructions. Organising for her to be taken out of her original school was not easy, but it was eventually managed. She was taken to the SENESE Centre where she saw deaf children signing and she became very excited as she had not realised that there were others like her. We tested her and fitted hearing aids. This was about 3 years ago and on our latest trip, she was traveling to a mainstream secondary school on the bus by herself, using her hearing aids, and has sign language and other support. I saw her in February and she now appears to sign well. At this appointment Donna Lene said she was advocating for her to be allowed to attend the Deaf Sports, as she was really good at netball. She was very different from the withdrawn girl we saw initially.

These 3 audiologists all work for Attune Audiology and Attune is supporting their trip in July by making all our clinics Australia wide a collection points for  working aids. The drop off points can be found by heading to Attunes website on www.attune.com.au. Prof Newall and Cristy Newall work out of Attune clinics in Dubbo, Mudgee, Baulkham Hills, Norwest and Westmead.  Suzi works out of Attunes Mona Vale clinic.

We are wanting media support to gather as many pairs of hearing aids as we can before July, and would appreciate the media’s assistance in our project.

For further information please contact email kpaterson@attune.com.au or 0427211404.

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