Over 1.3 Million Australians Are Living With Hearing Loss That Could Have Been Prevented – New Report Finds

  • 7.8 million Australians predicted to be affected by hearing loss by 2060
  • Increasing numbers of young people being impacted
  • Interventions recommended to alleviate the impact of hearing loss in Australia

Around 3.6 million Australians are affected by hearing loss, at a cost to the Australian economy of an estimated $15.9 billion, with more than a third (37%) of cases being preventable, according to a report released commissioned by The Hearing Care Industry Australia (HCIA).

The Social and Economic Cost of Hearing Loss in Australia report projects that by 2060 the number of Australians with hearing loss will more than double to 7.8 million – equivalent to one in every five Australians.

Of great concern is the number of young people aged 12 to 35 years found to be at risk of hearing loss, with up to 50% of young Australians likely to develop hearing loss after five years of exposure to loud music – an increase of 40% since the early 2000s.
Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt AM welcomed the report.

“It highlights a number of challenges and opportunities for improving Australia’s hearing care,” Minister Wyatt said. It’s well recognised that the impact of someone losing their hearing is likely to have a range of other consequences on their social and physical ability and this report highlights the various interventions that can be used to alleviate that.

“The evidence and information it presents is extremely valuable and will be carefully considered. I want to thank the HCIA and the researchers for their work, which will benefit all Australians with hearing loss.”

The report was officially launched by Minister Wyatt this morning (August 16) at HCIA’s annual parliamentary breakfast at Parliament House, Canberra in the lead up to Hearing Awareness Week (August 20 to 26).

The report highlights that hearing loss can lead to premature retirement, a greater number of sick days and a diminished capacity to work productively, as well as having a significant impact on an individual’s ability to socialise.

ACT Fire & Rescue Commander Wayne Shaw, aged 59, has been suffering from tinnitus for the last 20 years and knows intimately the impact of hearing loss can have on a person’s ability to work and socialise.

“I don’t think people realise how much they rely on their hearing until it’s gone,” Wayne said. “Before I had my hearing tested, there were times I felt very isolated from my family and friends.

Since having my hearing tested, I have not only extended my ability to work but my family life has improved, as my wife doesn’t have to repeat things anymore!”

The majority of those affected by hearing loss are males, and by the age of 60 years old, one in every two males in Australia will be impacted, compared to one in every three females.

“The significant increase in the prevalence of hearing loss shown in this report raises challenges for the hearing care industry on how we can best support and mitigate the impact on the Australian population,” said HCIA Chairman, Mr Ashley Wilson.

“Interventions are needed to minimise the impact of hearing loss, and HCIA has recommended the introduction of a free hearing screening program for people aged 50 years and over, which has the potential to prevent or delay hearing loss.”

HCIA also recommends that the hearing aid voucher program is extended to people in low income groups including younger and older Australians given this has the potential to reduce the gap in employment between people with hearing loss and people with hearing by approximately two thirds. This would result in a cost benefit ratio of 5.2, which is equivalent to a return on investment of $5.20 for every $1 invested in the program.

– ENDS –

For further information please contact:
Elle McGlynn
SenateSHJ
elle@senateshj.com.au
02 8257 0200
0425 319 321

ABOUT THE HEARING CARE INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION

HCIA is the Hearing Care Industry Association. Its vision is to serve the Australian community by facilitating the delivery of world-class hearing healthcare to all Australians. HCIA represents hearing healthcare providers in Australia. Its members fit around 60% of the hearing devices used in Australia. HCIA aims to better inform policy development, grow awareness of the value of the industry and provide a public voice on hearing related matters. HCIA works closely with government, the public service, the media, other professional bodies, and the public. HCIA’s member organisations operate independently of each other.

ABOUT DELOITTE ACCESS ECONOMICS

Deloitte Access Economics is one of Australia’s most recognised economics advisory practices. The Social and Economic Cost of Hearing Loss in Australia – June 2017 report is revised, updated and expanded on the publication prepared by the organisation prepared for the HCIA in 2006 to quantify the impact and estimated impact of the financial costs and loss of wellbeing from hearing loss in Australia.

HCIA’s Response to the ACCC Report

HCIA acknowledges the ACCC report released yesterday concerning the provision of hearing health services. Our members take the matters discussed in the report very seriously and are committed to ensuring hearing impaired Australians receive the very best possible care.

The industry has a very high satisfaction rate and receives only a very small number of complaints. Notwithstanding this, HCIA is currently investigating the specific details and examples provided in the report and is committed to working with the ACCC to ensure that industry regulations and standards are appropriate.

While we have robust frameworks in place for our health professionals to ensure they provide the most appropriate care for each individual’s needs, and we constantly strive to improve the service and care we offer to Australians living with hearing loss, we welcome the opportunity to address any matters of concern and to work closely with the ACCC.

Contact
Rebecca McCarthy,
Hearing Care Industry Association

Email
info@hcia.com.au
Phone
0405 117 114

Inquiry into the Provision of Hearing Services Under the NDIS

HCIA provided a submission and gave testimony to the Joint Standing Committee Inquiry on the National Disability Insurance Scheme Inquiry into the provision of hearing services under the NDIS.

HCIA seeks a contestable environment for the provision of quality hearing care services to the NDIS, the maintenance of a role for government where it is best placed to do so, and the need for NDIS participants to be assisted as appropriate to make informed choices.

HCIA members will be well prepared to serve all clients under the NDIS however, much more certainty is needed about the NDIS and how it relates to hearing impaired Australians.

To review the submission click here: HCIA Submission NDIS Inquiry 2017

Audiometry and the VET Student Loans

The Federal Education Minister has agreed to add the Diploma of Audiometry delivered by TAFE NSW to Schedule 3 of the list of approved courses eligible for VET Student Loans. The legislative instrument (the loans and caps determination) underpinning the list will be updated overtime.

HCIA is delighted the Government has responded in this manner.

HCIA advocated very strongly with Minister Birmingham’s office and his Department as well as more broadly within Government and the Senate. We also offered our support to AcAud and to the CEO of TAFE Directors.

Please read our full submission here Submission to the Senate Education Employment Legislation Committee

HCIA Submission to the House of Representatives Inquiry into Hearing Health and Wellbeing in Australia

HCIA makes the following points in summary:

  • We support Hearing Health being a National Health Priority for Australia,
  • We recommend adoption of the recommendations contained within the 2010 Senate report titled ‘Hear Us’, in particular Recommendations 2,4 and 20,
  • We encourage Government to continue to invest in research to further understand the link between hearing loss and other health related matters,
  • While Australia’s Hearing Services program is very good, we believe changes could be made to further improve its effectiveness, including;
  • Eligibility requirements to access the program should be reviewed, particularly for low income people of working age;
  • Funding an awareness and education campaign specifically aimed at young people, and
  • Implementing a screening program for all Australians over the age of 50.
  • We would be concerned about making unnecessary changes to the Government’s Hearing Services Program as this could be detrimental to those it now services,
  • The non-utilisation of hearing aids supplied under the Hearing Services Program has declined substantially in recent years,
  • Consumer choice is an extremely important element of the Hearing Services Program,
  • The Hearing Services Program has an extremely low level of consumer compliant,
  • There is substantial and unrealised opportunity for prevention of hearing loss, particularly amongst teenagers,
  • There is a danger of substantial market distortion if Australian Hearing is moved from Government ownership, other than at a fair market value,
  • The area is substantially constrained by workforce issues. This will be worsened by recently announced VET Fee Help changes to audiometry training, and
  • The notion of the GP as the gatekeeper to the Hearing Services Program is outdated; a waste of money and is being jettisoned by comparable countries.

To read the full submission to the House of Representatives Inquiry into Hearing Health and Wellbeing in Australia click here:
Sub030 Hearing Care Industry Association and for the attachments: Sub030 HCIA Attachment ASub030 HCIA Attachment BSub030 HCIA Attachment CSub030 HCIA Attachment D

Review of the VET System

Recently in its review of the VET system, the Australian Government removed the Diploma of Audiology from VET Fee Help eligibility.

HCIA finds this alarming particularly as from our perspective as the largest employers of hearing care professionals in Australia, we know that there is currently workforce undersupply. In fact, the industry currently needs to utilise the 457 Visa program to meet workforce need.

HCIA is keen to see more Audiologists come through the TAFE system. The Diploma of Audiology is a 2-year TAFE Diploma, offered at only 2 locations in Australia. It has been taught since the early 1960s. There has never been any suggestion that this Diploma area has been subject to abnormal expansion in numbers or rorting.

We think that removing Audiology from VET Fee Help eligibility is counter-productive. It could have a significant negative impact on enrolments in the hearing health sector. It will ultimately also disadvantage the increasing number of hearing impaired Australians.

Interested members of the public and other stakeholders in the hearing care sector can continue to press for the Diploma of Audiology to be included in the VET-FEE HELP eligible course list by expressing their views to the Department of Education and Training, and to the The Hon. Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education at minister@education.gov.au.

Please read our full submission here Submission to the Senate Education Employment Legislation Committee

Hearing Health – A Matter for Trained Professionals Only

Recent media reports are simply incorrect when they say that the hearing services sector is completely unregulated.

The media reports fail to make it clear that all members of the Hearing Care Industry Association (HCIA) are registered to provide services under the Federal Government hearing services program and are also regulated by Commonwealth/State/Territory legislation governing health complaints laws, public health regulation, consumer protection law, employment law, criminal law and the law of contracts.

That said, currently anyone can still set-up a hearing clinic if they are working in the private market only. HCIA members do not approve of that practice. We believe that the employment of accredited audiologists or audiometrists should be required.

HCIA members only employ audiometrists and audiometrists who are accredited by their professional bodies and who comply with the National Code of Conduct of all health workers.

With 450,000 hearing aids prescribed around Australia each year, we urge all Australians to avoid unnecessary risks and only deal with expert accredited clinicians. HCIA members adopt standards to ensure that every client will receive the most appropriate assistance that deals with their hearing loss and their individual needs.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016
For Immediate Release
Contact: Rebecca McCarthy, 0405 117 114‬, info@hcia.com.au

Hearing Care Industry Applauds the Restoration of Lifetime Compensation for NSW Workers with Hearing Loss

The Hearing Care Industry Association commends the NSW Government for restoring lifetime compensation for workers who sustain hearing impairment as a result of workplace exposure.

“Hearing is a critical sense. Hearing loss lasts a lifetime. HCIA called on the NSW government to restore lifetime workers compensation cover to include hearing aids, their repairs, replacement and batteries,” said HCIA Chairman, Mr John Pappalardo.

“We are very pleased the Government listened to our call. The 2012 changes set a severe and a very unhealthy precedent for hearing impaired Australians. HCIA led a major lobbying effort to get the NSW Government to reconsider the consequences of its actions and we are delighted they listened.

“Workers will once again be entitled to ongoing compensation for hearing loss where this condition resulted from their workplace not meeting occupational health and safety standards with regard to noise exposure,” he said.

Continue reading “Hearing Care Industry Applauds the Restoration of Lifetime Compensation for NSW Workers with Hearing Loss”

Access to Hearing Services for Low-income working-age Australians – 2015/16 Budget Submission

This submission gives effect to recommendations of the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee and the Hearing Services Consultative Committee.

  • In May 2010, the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee handed down a report with unanimous support. It was titled; Hear Us, Inquiry into Hearing Health in AustraliaRecommendation #4 was that eligibility for the Australian Government Hearing Services Program be extended to include all Australians, subject to a means test.
  • In 2011, a Sub-Committee of the Hearing Services Consultative Committee reporting to the Minister of Mental Health and Ageing advised Government on the implementation of this recommendation
  • In August 2014 HCIA was encouraged by Assistant Health Minister Senator Fiona Nash to bring forward a 2015/16 Budget submission.

Download the HCIA 2015/16 Budget submission – Access to hearing services for low-income working-age Australians