After sight, hearing is one of our most relied upon senses. It’s critical to our development both socially and emotionally, but did you know your child’s hearing could be under threat without you even knowing?
Metro Screen, the company where Wayne Blair, director of the multi-award winning film The Sapphires, began his screen career, is making a series of short films about ear health.
The films funded under the Care for Kids’ Ears campaign throw a spotlight on Otitis Media, an ear infection that affects children from 0 – 5 years of age. Otitis Media is 10 times more common in Aboriginal children than non-Aboriginal children.
Metro Screen commissioned two Aboriginal film makers to produce the short films: James’ Silent Disease by Mitch Stanley and Can You Hear Me? by Fran Dobbie. The films focus on practical ways to look after ear health, CEO of Metro Screen Christina Alvarez says.
“I think it’s a really strong video for mums about raising healthy kids, specifically in relation to ear health. The films provide a really clear overview of the simple steps to take to look after your kid’s ear health. It’s from the mum’s point of view and experience, and is also a really good insight into the kid’s experience,” she says.
James’ Silent Disease is aimed at educating parents, mothers in particular, about Otitis Media and middle ear infection, and raises awareness of what can be a debilitating infection.
The film follows Elizabeth, played by Aboriginal actress Elaine Crombie, a mother whose son has been affected by Otitis Media and lost partial hearing as a result. It depicts how it has impacted both of their lives.
For filmmaker Mitch Stanley, working with Elaine Crombie who’s been the face of the Break the Chain quit smoking ad campaigns, was rewarding. “She’s a very diverse and talented actress. I’ve seen her as a comedic actress and as a theatre performer but when we approached her to do Elizabeth she was able to take on the script and perform it very well,” Mitch says.
When your child gets sick, as a parent you feel responsible. Part of Mitch’s inspiration for the film was to assure mothers that it’s not their fault and they shouldn’t feel shame or guilt. “I hope parents can watch it. My aim for the film is to make sure there is no shame factor because it’s a disease that can go unnoticed for a long time. Through making a film about ear disease, Mitch hopes to make a difference to the community.
“I’ve worked in the community in the past and I got to see that there are sick kids out there, and I thought that as a filmmaker I could make a difference by doing a drama documentary about ear disease.” Aboriginal children experience Otitis Media at a younger age, more often, for longer periods and with more complications than other children. There are steps parents can take to look out for their child’s ear health.
Most importantly they can look out for the signs of Otitis Media and be sure they get regular ear checks. Signs of an ear infection can include not eating, diarrhoea, vomiting, pain in the ear, pulling on ears, fever, cold symptoms and a lack of hearing . However, sometimes there might be no symptoms associated with an infection.
Prevention is better than a cure, so make sure your child has their ears checked every time they see a health care professional.
Other practical steps you can take are:
•Keep their ears clean
•Make sure they have a healthy diet
•Ensure vaccinations are up to date
•Get your children to blow their nose regularly
•Breastfeed as it helps fight infection
•Don’t smoke around the child
•Keep the ears free from all objects and don’t let them stick anything in their ears.
For more information on Otitis Media visit: www.careforkidsears.health.gov.au/