Better hearing services for more Australians

Date published:

September 30, 2021

Type of support:

Press release

Public:

General public

The report of an independent review of the Australian Government’s hearing services program has been released today. The review was undertaken to provide insights and recommendations to government, including ways to ensure the program improves outcomes for vulnerable Australians living with hearing loss, by being more client- and outcome-focused.

Regional Health Minister Dr David Gillespie said the government would carefully consider the various recommendations put forward as part of the review process.

“I want to make sure that through this process, we preserve choice, improve program equity, efficiency and sustainability, and build on the key priorities of the hearing health roadmap that the government has already funded in Budget 2020. Whether you were born with hearing loss or if it happens later, it can have a huge impact on your life,” said Minister Gillespie.

“At present, 1 in 6 Australian adults suffer from hearing loss, and this is expected to rise to around 1 in 4 adults by 2050 as the population ages.”

“The government wants to ensure that all deaf Australians, wherever they live, can get quality support to help them get the most out of their lives.

“The Hearing Services Program is already providing an excellent service, and with the help of the Independent Review, we were keen to see further advanced ideas that will build on the strengths of the program to make it even better for even more. more people.

“There are a series of recommendations that the government will consider in depth before giving a full response to the review in due course,” said Minister Gillespie.

The Minister wishes to assure all stakeholders that the Government will continue to consult on how to address some of the recommendations and provide certainty to the sector. “In the meantime, I encourage interested parties and consumers of hearing services to continue to participate in the results of the review through the audience [at] health.gov.au (hearing services team) in my department.

The review confirmed that the program was highly valued, both by people with hearing loss and by those who support them personally and in their academic or professional life. In 2019-20, it provided over 1.4 million services to Australians, including the provision and fitting of hearing aids to over 392,000 people.

The government set up the independent review in August 2020 to seek further ideas on how to further strengthen the scheme and make it more accessible, particularly for people outside major cities and Aboriginal and islanders of the Torres Strait. The review was also tasked with exploring the reasons why more than half of eligible people do not have access to the program.

“On behalf of the government, I would like to thank the panel of experts – Professor Mike Woods and Dr Zena Burgess – and everyone who contributed to this review,” said Minister Gillespie.

Stakeholders including consumer groups, hearing service customers, providers, industry, professional associations and academics participated in the review.

Michael A. May