The Australian Government is committed to supporting Australians who are hard of hearing through improvements to its hearing services.
The social and economic impacts of hearing loss are significant, and it is vital the Hearing Services Program continues to keep pace with demand and improvements in technology.
As the nation’s population ages, the impact of hearing loss could double, with 7.8 million Australians predicted to be affected in 2060.
In order to address the challenges faced by Australians who are hard of hearing, the Commonwealth is working with State and Territory authorities to implement the 2019 Roadmap for Hearing Health and delivering investment and reforms that align with the Roadmap, including:
- The national rollout of innovative hearing screening tools for primary health care clinics in remote areas, through a collaboration between Hearing Australia and the Royal Flying Doctors Service
- The development of nationally consistent clinical standards for paediatric audiology and teleaudiology by the Ear Science Institute and Audiology Australia
- Roll-out of a free sign language interpreting service for senior Australians, being delivered by Auslan Connections
- Funding the National Acoustic Laboratory to examine the clinical and economic benefits of upgrading sound processors in clients aged over 65
- A review of the Minimum Hearing Loss Threshold used under the Hearing Services Program, also being undertaken by the National Acoustic Laboratory
Minister Coulton reiterated his desire for the Government’s hearing services to be fit-for-purpose, client-focussed, and prepared for the future.
“The client must sit front and centre when we consider how best to deliver the services Australians need.
“Technology is changing, markets are changing, and our population is changing.
“If we are to ensure the best future for all Australians we must identify and address the barriers faced by all Australians in accessing services,” said Minister Coulton.
“It is therefore necessary and timely to conduct a review of settings in the Hearing Services Program.”
The Hearing Services Review, which will examine settings within the Hearing Services Program to ensure its continued performance, will be conducted by an expert panel consisting of Professor Michael Woods and Dr Zena Burgess PhD.
“Both Prof Woods and Dr Burgess bring with them a wealth of experience and understanding and having discussed the Review with them, they are ready and will launch into their work,” Minister Coulton said.
“I encourage all stakeholders, both within and beyond the sector, to contribute to this review to ensure it is informed with the most conclusive evidence it possibly can.”
This review is part of a suite of efforts underway to improve the lives of Australians who are hard of hearing, regardless where.
The Hearing Services Review is underway and will deliver its findings to Government in July 2021.