Newcastle creatives bring Indigenous ear health to the national stage

Newcastle creatives bring Indigenous ear health to the national stage

Newcastle communication and production house, Rollingball, has launched an Australia-wide campaign that has gained national attention and highlights a gross health disadvantage that plagues many Australia’s First Nation children under six.

The Hear. Listen. Yarn. campaign, launched in September, has already received accolades for sharpening the nation’s focus on the plight of First Nation children’s ear health.

The ground-breaking set of screening tools were developed by National Acoustics Laboratories (NAL), the research arm of Hearing Australia (HA), in collaboration with Aboriginal health and early education services.

They are the only resources of their kind in Australia that assess infants as young as 4 months to 5 years and can be accessed for free via Plum and Hats website.

Over the past few months Rollingball has been busy developing the national awareness and uptake initiative. The team developed a multi-faceted awareness and engagement strategy.

Assets included a communications and engagement strategy, website and training portal

development, video and radio community service announcements, electronic direct mail (EDM), social media tiles, demonstration videos, informative fliers, and photography.

Rollingball also collaborated with an Aboriginal-owned public relations agency to effectively reach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences.

Additionally, Rollingball consulted with cultural consultant, Sarah Corrigan, at every level of planning, creative design, branding and message development to ensure it resonated with audiences, was culturally appropriate, and achieved optimum outcomes.

“Hearing, Listening and Yarning are integral to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and our culture, we tell our stories through yarning, we learn our lore by hearing and listening deeply to our Elders and our Country,” Sarah said.

“The PLUM and HATS tools are an easy way community can ensure our children have the best hearing health possible so they can grow up strong and proud in their cultural identity.”

The campaign aims to reach parents and carers to encourage them to ask for the checklists, but also health and childcare workers to encourage them to familiarise themselves with and use the tools.

The checklists have particular focus on cultural considerations that relate specifically to First Nation infants, the tools – the Parent-evaluated Listening and Understanding Measure (PLUM) and the Hear and Talk Scale (HATS) – are a simple yarn, or chat, between the parent or carer and their health or childcare professional and have been proven effective for picking up listening and talking issues in young children. Issues that can be addressed when caught early.

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children suffer from hearing difficulties which is caused by middle ear infection (or otitis media), which is shown to impact learning and social outcomes. These tools help families to pick up hearing issues much sooner.

The initiative consisted of a national PR campaign reaching all relevant media, and an electronic direct mail campaign to all relevant medical and childcare stakeholders across the country.

It included a story about a local Maitland toddler who had been screened with the tools and quickly received a hearing device to help his hearing and speech.

Rollingball Producer, April Howard, said that since learning of the hearing issues many First Nation community members face, their team felt a personal urge to create this campaign and get involved in support.

“We became aware of the inequitable prevalence of hearing issues in our First Nations community some time ago, so working on this campaign has been really significant for us,” she said.

“The Hear. Listen. Yarn. campaign was backed by extensive stakeholder research that offered a broad range of suggestions for promoting the use of PLUM and HATS tools.

“While we prioritised placement in Indigenous media, we also acknowledged that engagement with mainstream, in particular, regional media was essential to reach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences nationally.”

The campaign has been picked up nationally across SBS network radio and TV and many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander networks across the country.

“It’s a privilege to be able to work on a project like this that can effect real change,” April said.

“The results can be life changing for the families – their children can hear clearly for the first time and then find their voice.”

IMAGE | Rollingball produce award-winning Hear. Listen. Yarn campaign.

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