Where would we be without microbiology in tackling the high prevalence of otitis media (OM; middle ear infection) and disabling hearing loss that disadvantage Australian First Nations children living in remote communities? Understanding the microbiology of OM in this population has been critical in directing innovative clinical trials research and developing appropriate evidence-based practice guidelines. While these processes are critical to reducing disadvantage associated with OM and disabling hearing loss, a remaining seemingly insurmountable gap has remained, threatening progress in improving the lives of children with ear and hearing problems. That gap is created by the crisis in primary health care workforce in remote communities. Short stay health professionals and fly-in fly-out specialist services are under-resourced to manage the complex needs of the community, including prevention and treatment of otitis media and hearing loss rehabilitation. Hence the rationale for the Hearing for Learning Initiative – a workforce enhancement model to improve sustainability, cultural appropriateness, and effectiveness of evidence-based ear and hearing health care for young children in remote settings. This paper summarises the role of microbiology in the pathway to the Hearing for Learning Initiative.