Working with Government

HCIA engages on a regular basis with Government and with the Opposition to ensure they are aware of and understand the issues facing hearing impaired people in Australia. HCIA does this in a variety of ways, by meeting on a one on one basis; by writing submissions to relevant inquiries; by engaging in the Federal Budget process; by hosting parliamentary events, by working on a local basis and by supporting conferences and other forums.

HCIA also engages on a regular basis with the Office of Hearing Services and have developed a mutually respectful relationship with them.

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:             Donna Staunton, CEO Hearing Care Industry Association

Email:  donnas@hcia.com.au

Ph:  (02) 9958 1593

WORLD HEARING DAY – A CALL FOR SOUND INVESTMENT TO MITIGATE HEARING LOSS 3 March 2017

On World Hearing Day, the Hearing Care Industry Association (HCIA) welcomes the Australian Government’s focus on hearing health and calls on Government to declare hearing health a National Health Priority.

Australia has a long history of leading the world in hearing care. For example, in 1944 Government established the Acoustic Research Laboratory to investigate the effects of noise on military personnel; in 1947, its role was expanded to include the assessment and rehabilitation of children affected by the rubella epidemics; in 1946 Government started to provide hearing services to returning World War II veterans and school children and in 1968 the program was expanded once more to include social security pensioners.  Today the Government provides services to many more Australians however HCIA believes more can be done. We encourage;

  • Further investment in research to understand the link between hearing loss and other health related matters,
  • Changes to the hearing services program to further improve its effectiveness, including;
  • Reviewing the eligibility requirements to access the program, particularly for low income Australians 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.

HCIA believes good policy should be evidence based and therefore HCIA has funded an update of a 2006 Report by Deloittes on the Economic Impact of Hearing Loss in Australia. The report will be available shortly.

“We are also proud of our ongoing work on accreditation of our industry and we are happy to have made the investment to develop a national campaign called 5@50 which encourages people over the age of 50 to ask 5 questions in relation to their hearing.

Unlike other screening services Australians don’t have a trigger to prompt them to think about hearing loss.

HCIA works in conjunction with many of the key consumer and professional groups in hearing health. These groups also want to make a difference to the hearing health of Australians.

Contact – Donna Staunton, Chief Executive Officer on 02 9958 1593

 

Inquiry into the Provision of Hearing Services under the NDIS
2 February 2017

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

 

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

 

HCIA made a 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

 

HEARING CARE INDUSTRY APPLAUDS THE RESTORATION OF LIFETIME COMPENSATION FOR NSW WORKERS WITH HEARING LOSS

Tuesday 4 August 2015,  MEDIA RELEASE

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.

Affected worker, Mr Graham Holdgate said, “As someone who experienced work-induced hearing loss, I already paid a very high price for this injury. Hearing loss affected my relationships and made me feel isolated and depressed. Expecting people with work-related hearing loss to pay for hearing aids, their replacement and batteries just added insult and financial burden to that injury. I’m glad the NSW Government has found the means to set the system right.”

Background: As at 1 January 2014, for workers injured after October 2012, WorkCover no longer covered the cost of a replacement hearing aids or the cost of batteries for more than twelve months, while those workers injured before this date were only covered until retirement age.  The worker who had endured the injury causing their hearing loss was wholly responsible for paying these costs.

CONTACTS:

 Mr John Pappalardo, HCIA Chairman: 0417 125 761

Ms Donna Staunton, HCIA Chief Executive Officer 02 99443259

Mr Graham Holdgate: Affected Worker: 0414 616554

 

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

Download HCIA 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

WorkCover Authority Submission

On 17 January 2014 the Hearing Care Industry Association (HCIA) lodged the submission to the NSW Standing Committee on Law and Justice for the inquiry into the Review of the Exercise of the Functions of the Workcover Authority.

Download the HCIA submission to the Review of the Exercise of the Functions of the Workcover Authority