The HCIA was formed with the view to better inform policy development, provide a public voice on hearing related matters, and to raise the profile of hearing issues in Australia.
There is no doubt that the Commonwealth’s Hearing Services Program is an outstanding program that provides a world class service to eligible clients; young people under the age of 26 or adults on an age, disability or veteran’s pension. However, this leaves many people who have a hearing impairment and are of working age, without any funding or access to services and technologies that will enable them to communicate and get into or stay in the workforce.
During Hearing Awareness Week 2012, HCIA called on government to recognise that hearing impairment has a substantial and unrecognised effect on workplace productivity. It called on government to extend the eligibility of the Hearing Services Program to all Australians, subject to eligibility and a means test – (this was accepted in principle by the Government when it responded to the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee Report on Hearing Health).
If this were not possible, HCIA respectfully suggested Government lower the age of entry to the program to 45 years – noting that employment rates for people with hearing impairment between the ages of 45 and 64 are up to 20% lower than for people without hearing loss.
The contribution of HCIA was acknowledged by The Hon. Mark Butler, MP, Minister for Health and Ageing, Minister for Social Inclusion and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister with Mental Health Reform.