An amazing week in the Northern Territory – I was warmly welcomed by the NT Department of Education Hearing Team and spent the week with them travelling to numerous schools in Darwin and then out to Katherine on a 3 day road trip. I was very grateful to have the opportunity to visit an indigenous community and visit the community crèche and school; as well as schools in Katherine.

An ongoing and unremitting issue in indigenous communities and for indigenous students is the high incidence of otitis media and fluctuating conductive hearing loss. A review into ear health by Burns and Thomson in 2013 cited concerning statistics about the prevalence of ear disease and hearing loss amongst indigenous children. The effect on health is compounded by hearing loss, which impacts directly on student language development, learning and literacy. The Indigenous Literacy Foundation cites ‘one clear stat shows that between 40% and 60% of Indigenous children in very remote locations across WA, SA and NT are achieving below minimum standard in Reading in Year 3’.

The focus for my week in the NT was twofold – to visit schools and meet and present to staff, and discuss the link between captions and literacy and to provide information about captioned access to the curriculum, and ways to explicitly teach literacy skills using captions. My further focus was to consider my exploration into the building of teacher capacity regarding curriculum access.

I was warmly welcomed everywhere I went and wonderful discussions and sharing of ideas ensued. I’m very grateful to the NT Hearing Team for their generosity and sharing of their time and expertise.

Photo collage of schools visited in NT