Nation hears call for help

HEAR our Heart is proudly holding its head high as it recently won the prestigious National Volunteer Award.

Co-founder Rowena Galway told the Daily Liberal the Dubbo organisation was thrilled to receive the award.

Ms Galway said her daughter had nominated her and she was completely surprised.

"The award means what we're doing is right and we will keep doing it until we reach the end result," she said.

The Hear Our Heart Ear Bus Project was set up to combat otitis media, a common but serious problem that reduces hearing and also causes disadvantages to communication, learning and social capacity.

The committee's mission was to raise $360,000 to purchase a purpose-built ear bus.

"The bus itself costs $60,000 and the rest is for equipment costs. Ideally we would be able to perform surgery in the ear bus," she said.

There would be three stages. Firstly, an audiologist would check ear health of children at schools, then those who need help would see the doctor and the next day an ear and nose specialist would perform the appropriate surgery."

Ms Galway said there were three challenges she faced to get the bus - the federal government, state education and health departments.

"It is frustrating they won't come to the table," she said.

"I don't know what the problem is. Its not for me, it's for all the children of NSW who need hearing help."

Federal member for Parkes, Mark Coulton praised Ms Galway for her efforts in the community.

"Volunteers are the backbone of every community and I am always overwhelmed by the number of people who are selflessly devoting themselves to making their communities a better place to live," Mr Coulton said.

"These awards are a wonderful way of officially recognising the work of people whose dedication to helping people and their community unfortunately all too often goes unrecognised."

Ms Galway said the motivation of acquiring an ear bus to service western NSW came about because of long waiting lists for the specialist service.

Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and New Zealand all have Mobile Ear Health Clinics, while NSW has none.

"We have high numbers of ear disease here in NSW and it's like we are living in a third-world country, we are not doing enough for our kids," she said.

Thanks to the Dubbo community, the committee has raised $43,000 towards the ear bus.

"Get behind what we do so we can create awareness," she said.

For more information or to make a donation, visit www.hearourheart.org.

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