Hear our Heart Community Partnership

Hear Our Heart: Empowering the Dubbo Community through Deaf Support and Ear Health Initiatives

Every year, through our Community Partnership Program, Regional Australia Bank enables members to directly support the local groups that play such a vital role in our communities.

One of those groups is Dubbo & District Support for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, which provides support for the deaf and hard of hearing and their families, as well as helping to identify early warning signs to prevent ear health issues causing hearing loss.

Bridging the Gap: The Dubbo & District's Mission for Hearing Health

Since 1997, the Dubbo & District Support for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing began life after Donna Rees, the parent of a deaf child and recently qualified teacher of the deaf, grew frustrated with the lack of support available within the community.

In the three decades that followed, the group has grown and grown, providing support for the deaf and hard of hearing and their families. In addition, since 2012, the group has also provided services to help to identify ear health conditions in local children that, left untreated, could result in hearing loss.

“There was an obvious gap and need for a wide range of support to assist our community,” says Donna, who was the inaugural president, and is still involved in the group as treasurer.

“We formed the support group as a step forward to improve intervention and support services for the kids and their families, and put together some wide-ranging, relevant objectives to assist with hearing health and education in the local community.”

Helping a Community

Today, the group provides assistance for medical trips for specialist appointments, raises funds to improve the educational facilities available to the deaf/hard-of-hearing children of Dubbo, provides emotional support for the deaf/hard-of-hearing and their families, promotes community awareness and organises group functions, family and student camps and meetings – among an array of other services.

In 2012, the group, which is not-for-profit and run by volunteers, launched the Hear our Heart Ear Bus project – which plays a significant role in helping raise awareness and education around healthy ears, as well as early identification of ear issues, which left untreated could result in hearing loss.

“The Hear our Heart Ear Bus Project provides quality targeted hearing screening, hearing loss and otitis media awareness and prevention education, specialist referrals plus follow-up for children in all settings, including infants, preschool/early education, primary and secondary schools in Dubbo and close surrounding districts,” says Donna.


hear our heart bus gearing

The Ear Bus Gears Up

Getting the Ear Bus on the road was a significant achievement in the group’s evolution. The customised vehicle was donated by Dubbo locals Terry and Kathy Green, who at the time owned Sainsbury Automotive, while the interior fit-out, including a sound-proof booth, was completed by Alloy Welding Dubbo.

“Without the Ear Bus providing free ear health and hearing checks for our local kids, many hearing issues would go undetected and untreated, resulting in possible lifelong disadvantages,” explains Donna.

“We support local children in many ways. Diagnostic – referral, parent and teacher education to help deepen their understanding of ear health, hearing loss and the ramifications of all hearing health-related issues. The organisation is very multifaceted, but has the goal of helping the parents as first teachers navigate and get the best possible outcomes for their children.”

The importance of Community Support

As well as the support provided by volunteers, the group also relies on the backing of the local community. The Walter and Eliza Hall Charitable Foundation is the group’s Principal Sponsor and provides annual funding with a commitment to 2026, while Dubbo City Toyota provides support through servicing the bus and covering fuel costs.

“We are a small group,” says Donna. “We struggle to get volunteers and people interested in assisting with fundraising or being on our committees. Our biggest ongoing issue is continued funding. The volunteer committee work hard to raise the remaining $150,000 per year needed to run the program in addition to what the Walter And Eliza Hall Charitable Foundation already provide.

“Regional Australia Bank has supported us for over 10 years with the Community Partnership Program but also as local people supporting local programs. “We know our team personally and are very thankful for their ongoing interest and support with not only our financials but us as individuals and as an organisation.”

For Donna and the dedicated team, all of the hard work is certainly worthwhile – and continues to make a significant difference in the lives of many in the community.

“I love seeing positive outcomes for the children as we strive to overcome the multiple barriers with policy to get the job done,” she says. “All volunteers and staff working for the Hear our Heart Ear Bus Project are committed to ensuring the best possible outcomes for the kids in our region.

“The satisfaction of improving kids’ lives through identification and treatment of ear health and hearing issues is what keeps our project viable.”

Get Involved: Supporting the Dubbo & District Community

If you’d like to help Dubbo & District Support for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, or the Hear our Heart Ear Bus Project, the team would be delighted if you dropped them a line.

There is a wide range of roles that support the operational delivery of projects, so whether you can offer some time on a one-off or ongoing basis, get in touch. The group would also love to be contacted by volunteer clinicians and teachers who may be able to support programs on a one-off or ongoing basis. Please email [email protected].