Ms Corinne Walsh

PhD scholar

Bachelor of Arts (Macquarie University)

T +61 2 6125 XXXX


Topic or working title

‘Falling on deaf ears?: Listening to the Indigenous voices regarding ear disease (otitis media) and hearing loss.’

Abstract or summary

Middle-ear disease (‘otitis media’) and consequent hearing loss is one of the most significant health issues facing Indigenous people. As many as 95% of Indigenous Australians in some regions have ‘sick ears’, prompting the World Health Organisation to pronounce it a public health crisis requiring urgent attention.

While mainstream biomedicine has made some headway in alleviating infections and improving peoples’ hearing, rates of ear/hearing problems among Indigenous Australians continue to escalate. Research on Indigenous otitis media has focused primarily on identification and treatment, and very little on prevention. My PhD starts from the premise that ear and hearing issues ought to be addressed at their source, and – to do this – close consideration must be given to local circumstances, beliefs, explanations and experiences of the condition.

Using an in-depth, ethnographic approach, I will analyse a range of perspectives and experiences surrounding otitis media and hearing impairment – from high-level policy to lived accounts of Indigenous people themselves. Extensive fieldwork in the community of Yarrabah is planned, and the methods used will be largely qualitative and locally-determined.

The ultimate aim is to grasp how current approaches to ear and hearing problems may better resonate with Indigenous epistemologies and conditions, so that more effective (early) intervention and prevention initiatives can be designed.

Panel members and positions

Primary Supervisor and Panel Chair:
Dr Bill Fogarty, Research Fellow, National Centre for Indigenous Studies.

Supervisory Panel Members:

  • Dr Anna Olsen, Senior Lecturer, ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment
  • Dr Jerry Schwab, Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR), ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences
  • Ms Olga Havnen, Chief Executive Officer of Danila Dilba Health Service, Darwin.


Corinne has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and Sociology from Macquarie University, where she graduated in 2008. In 2010, she gained a place in the Graduate Program for the former Australian government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and moved to Canberra to pursue this. Corinne worked in a range of research, policy and program areas of FaHCSIA until mid-2012, including Research and Analysis, Family and Child Support Policy, and the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) Program. One of her achievements at FaHCSIA included being awarded a prestigious Secretary's Award for her work on the significant CDEP reforms. Corinne took up a Policy Officer position with NSW Health in Sydney in August 2012, but decided to head back to Canberra in April 2013 to pursue her career and study aspirations.

Corinne joined NCIS in April 2013 to provide research assistance on a range of research projects. The projects she has worked on to date are: the Justice Reinvestment and Citizens Juries projects led by NCIS Research Fellow Dr Jill Guthrie; the Indigenous Cricket project led by NCIS Research Fellow Dr Bill Fogarty and NCIS Director Professor Mick Dodson; and the Learning on Country Program evaluation led by NCIS Research Fellow Dr Bill Fogarty and CAEPR Deputy Director Dr Jerry Schwab.

Corinne has recently completed a Master of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development (MAAPD) at ANU. She is particularly passionate about health, wellbeing and healing, specifically ear/hearing health of Indigenous people in Australia and worldwide. Her research interest lies in understanding the pressing issue of otitis media and hearing loss from a more holistic and anthropological perspective, particularly the lived experiences of Indigenous people themselves. She hopes to embark on a PhD in the near future to further explore ear and hearing ‘problems’ amongst Indigenous people, and how policy and practice can better respond to this issue.

Research outputs: most recent

Updated:  28 October 2016/ Responsible Officer:  NCIS Project Coordinator/ Page Contact:  NCIS Administrative Officer