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Deadly ears, the Queensland state-wide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ear health program



Deadly ears is the Queensland state-wide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ear health program. Its aim is to reduce the high rates of conductive hearing loss attributable to middle ear disease among Indigenous children. The program operates in 12 rural and remote communities in Queensland, and is delivered by four teams:

Deadly ears has produced several resources in collaboration with communities including:

Deadly ears also works with Queensland's health, education and early childhood sectors to improve Indigenous ear health policy and practice across the state. These state-wide actions by Queensland Health and its different partner agencies are outlined in annual reports which can be downloaded from the Deadly ears website.

Abstract adapted from Queensland Health


Deadly Ears
Children's Health
Queensland Hospital and Health Service
Level 9, 199 Grey Street
South Brisbane Qld 4101
PO Box 5492
West End Qld 4101
Ph: (07) 3310 7709
Fax: (07) 3310 7810

Related publications

Nguyen KH, Smith AC, Armfield NR, Bensink M, Scuffham PA (2015)

Cost-effectiveness analysis of a mobile ear screening and surveillance service versus an outreach screening, surveillance and surgical service for Indigenous children in Australia.

PLOS ONE; 10(9): e0138369

Retrieved 25 September 2015 from

Deadly ears resources for children, health professionals, educators and communities (2015)

Queensland Health

This online collection of health promotion resources is produced by Queensland's statewide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ear health program, Deadly ears. The collection includes:

The resources are divided by audience type:

Resources include posters, fact sheets, brochures and videos. Examples are:

To obtain hardcopies of the resources, see contact details below.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Brisbane Indigenous Media Association (2011)

Deadly ears [podcast].

: Brisbane Indigenous Media Association

This short podcast is one of a series of messages providing information about Indigenous health issues. It was produced by a team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media workers as part of the Stayin' strong project. The culturally appropriate podcast includes an interview with Matthew Brown, Director of Queensland Health's Deadly ears program, who demystifies ear checks and explains their importance for good ear health.

The Stayin' strong project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and produces 20 audio messages each month that are initially aired on Indigenous radio station, 98.9fm, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander listeners in south-east Queensland.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Deadly Ears Program (2009)

Deadly ears, deadly kids, deadly communities: 2009-2013: making tracks to close the gap in ear health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Brisbane: Queensland Health

This document provides a comprehensive framework for addressing the high level of middle ear disease and associated hearing loss among Queensland's Indigenous children. It forms part of the Queensland Government's commitment to 'close the gap' in ear health.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Sargison H, Marsh B, Craigie L (2005)

Good hearing, good talking, strong futures: establishing a model of service delivery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Acquiring Knowledge in Speech, Language and Hearing; 7(2): 65-68

Smith AC, Brown C, Bradford N, Caffery LJ, Perry C, Armfield NR (2015)

Monitoring ear health through a telemedicine-supported health screening service in Queensland.

Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare; Online First( 1-4

My trip to hospital (2011)

Deadly Ears program

The My trip to hospital resource package is for children and their families, to inform them of the surgery process when they have been identified as requiring ear surgery. The resource package includes a DVD, iPad and iPad applications and after hospital care activity books.

The resource package was developed by the Deadly ears program, lead by occupational therapists and with the support of key community champions and the broader Deadly ears team. A participatory approach was used to develop the resource package and will be used in the Queensland community.

Abstract adapted from Deadly Ears

Evaluated publications

Durham J, Schubert L, Vaughan L (2015)

Deadly Ears Deadly Kids Deadly Communities framework evaluation report.

Brisbane: Queensland Health

This publication reports on the evaluation of the Deadly ears deadly kids deadly communities framework. The framework initiated in 2009 was aligned to the Queensland government's whole of government 'close the gap' plan; Making tracks: a state-wide plan towards addressing the gap in health outcomes for Indigenous Queenslanders 2009-2013.

The framework targets a reduction in the significant rates of otitis media (OM) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. OM is the result of an interaction between medical and environmental causes. As such, the framework aims to reduce both the incidence and impact of conductive hearing loss associated with OM by intervening at a number of different levels, from the local to the national, and across different sectors. The purpose of this evaluation was to evaluate the effectiveness of the framework in relation to three broad areas:

  1. the extent to which the incidence and impact of chronic suppurative OM is reduced in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
  2. the extent to which the framework has enhanced the coordination, integration and delivery of health and education services that support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experiencing OM and associated conductive hearing loss
  3. the extent to which the framework has enabled the inclusion of information on OM and conductive hearing loss among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in policy and service planning for health and education.

The report includes key findings and recommendations.

Abstract adapted from authors


Last updated: 30 September 2015
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