Hearing loss is a big concern in rural areas. Rural Women New Zealand members were invited to attend a Dangerous Decibels training workshop to give them the tools to take the prevention message to schools and community groups.
Dr John Wallaart, Programme Manager, Insurance and Prevention Services with ACC, says hearing loss is a major concern in the agricultural sector.
“It’s costing the industry something around $10 million a year in terms of compensation claims. It’s probably one of the top claims from the rural sector and covers all types of farming.”
The good news is hearing loss may be managed.
“We did a lot of research a wee while ago and one of the recommendations is to talk to the children prior to entering the workforce.”
In the last year, 30,000 New Zealand children have gone through the Dangerous Decibels programme, which is primarily aims at 8- to 12-year-olds – before they get to the secondary school age where it is very hard to influence them.
The programme originated in Oregon, USA, and has been shown internationally to change people’s behaviour.
Schools are keen to take up the programme, with more requests coming in than can be handled.
This is where Rural Women New Zealand and other community groups come in. Last month, Top of the North national councillor Mary Dale-Taylor, Fiona Gower, Kath Gillespie, and Joan O’Keefe were trained at the School of Population Health in Auckland to deliver the programme.
Kath Gillespie says,”It was very interesting and informative. We were all provided with a satchel containing excellent notes and two discs covering the course content as well as the necessary tools and equipment to present the programme. We were shown exactly how the ear functions to allow us to hear including a demonstration of sound carrying airwaves using a tuning fork.”
“The message that hearing loss is permanent and cannot be treated was emphasised along with the need for personal responsibility in protecting our hearing is necessary.”
Mary, Joan, Kath, and Fiona are now certified as Dangerous Decibels Educators. Based in the Top of the North they are available to speak to branches on request. The presentation takes about 30 minutes and is very informative. They also hope to get in front of local schools and Dr Wallaart says he thinks they will be very good at it.
“They are well-respected by their local communities.”
The programme is presented as a fun session with colourful pipe cleaners and other props. “It’s not designed to be complex,” says Wallaart.
Further free Dangerous Decibel training courses are being run in September in Auckland, and more are planned for other parts of the country next year. To express interest in attending, contact Dr Wallaart on 027 220 7387 or email