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Ashleigh Toynton with daughter, Elizabeth
A TAFE Digital graduate has established a niche business to address staggering statistics related to childhood hearing loss.
The World Health Organization (WHO) released an article on 20 March 2019, which states that around 466 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss, and 34 million of these are children, with a staggering 60% of childhood hearing loss due to preventable causes.
Ashleigh Toynton, who completed a Diploma of Audiometry with TAFE Digital, was awarded an Outstanding Student of the Year Award and won the Australian Audiological Society of Australia Geoff Dickson Memorial Award.
Campbelltown resident, Mrs Toynton, said, “After working as an audiometrist in management roles with an adult hearing service provider and realizing that there are limited audiometry services and resources provided to people and children under 26 years of age, I decided to branch out and start my own business called Hearing Tests 4 Kids.”
Mrs Toynton saw a need in her community to cater for children from three to 25 years of age and created an array of hearing services including a home visit program.
“We focus on a school readiness program for pre-schoolers, community awareness programs tailored to hearing and childhood development and work closely with a variety of allied health providers and medical professionals within the South Western Sydney and South Coast regions of NSW,” she said.
To add to the awards already received, Mrs Toynton was a finalist in two categories of the 2019 Campbelltown Local Business Awards for Outstanding Business Person of the year, and Health Improvement Services Award.
“After completing a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, I began working as an off-site and part-time teacher with TAFE Digital,” she said. “I also have the privilege of being an assessor at the clinical workshops we facilitate at TAFE NSW Kingswood.”
“TAFE NSW is the only RTO that offers a Certificate IV and Diploma in Audiometry in Australia and has students travelling from geographical locations Australia-wide,” said Mrs Toynton.
“The face-to-face workshops and on-going phone and online support allows TAFE Digital students to gain confidence, use hands-on and simulated equipment to put skills they’ve learnt into practice, as well as build on competencies and knowledge in a real clinical setting.”
The Indigenous Affairs Group in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet stated there is ‘a higher proportion of Indigenous Australians experiencing hearing problems than non-Indigenous Australians across most age groups and across remote, rural and metropolitan areas. (1)
“Amongst Indigenous children, Otitis Media, or acute middle ear infection, is characterised by earlier onset, with babies and infants acquiring the disease at a younger age than other Australians. There is also a higher frequency of this infection occurring with greater severity and persistence over longer periods of time,” said Mrs Toynton.
To add to this predicament, according to WHO 1.1 billion young people (aged between 12 – 35 years) are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to noise in recreational settings and unaddressed hearing loss poses an annual global cost of US$70 billion.
“Interventions to prevent, identify and address hearing loss are cost-effective and can bring great benefit to individuals,” said Mrs Toynton.
“People with hearing loss benefit from early identification; medical intervention, the use of hearing aids, cochlear implants and other assistive devices.”
Mrs Toynton completed her studies and opened Hearing Tests 4 Kids when she was a single mother of her now nine-year-old daughter.
“Although being dyslexic, I wanted to show my daughter that if you try and don’t give up, you will succeed and anything in this world is possible if you put your mind to it and persevere,” she said.
Visit www.tafensw.edu.au/digital to explore the range of online courses available for enrolment in 2020.
Media contact: Bonny Gunn, TAFE Digital Media and Communications Business Partner. M: 0417 134 048.