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Professor Stephen O'Leary presenting the third 150th anniversary public lecture at the Eye and Ear hospital Tuesday.

Preventing Indigenous ear disease a community concern



Ear diseases leading to permanent hearing damage or loss are widespread amongst Indigenous Australians – with devastating, lifelong effects. Yet these conditions are easily preventable. 

Chair of Otolaryngology at the University of Melbourne, Professor Stephen O'Leary, explored how researchers and clinicians at the Eye and Eye are working towards eradicating these diseases during a public lecture held this week. 

The lecture, coinciding with NAIDOC Week, was the third installment in the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital's 150th anniversary public lecture series.

Professor O'Leary noted, while advances in medicine have enabled many one common eye and ear diseases to be easily prevented and treated, progress has not reached all members of the community.

“Not all Australians have benefited equally from the progress made in science and medicine over the last century. It is well known that members of Indigenous communities – particularly those in rural areas – still struggle with ear conditions rarely if ever encountered in other population segments,” said Professor O'Leary.

Preventable ear disease impacts more than 90 per cent of Australia's Indigenous population.

“In particular, we are seeing what can only be described as epidemics of conditions such as Otitis Media amongst Indigenous children. This condition is having a devastating, often lifelong impact on these children's lives, yet is rarely seen outside these communities.

Through a number of Eye and Ear-led community outreach initiatives, staff and researchers are working together with local communities toward a solution.

“The Eye and Ear hospital, in conjunction with its partners, has initiated a number of measures to help address this imbalance, as part of our commitment to closing the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,” said Professor O'Leary.

The next lecture in the 150th anniversary series will be held in conjunction with our partners the HEARingCRC, during Hearing Awareness Week on August 20. To register your interest, please contact:



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