HCIA’s Parliamentary Breakfast – Hearing Awareness Week 2020

On Wednesday 4 March 2020 during Hearing Awareness Week, the Hearing Care Industry Association held its 6th Parliamentary Breakfast at Parliament House.

The breakfast was attended by the Hon Mark Coulton MP, Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government; the Hon Chris Bowen MP, Shadow Minister for Health; Senator Richard Colbeck, Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians and Minister for Youth and Sport; the Hon Stuart Robert MP, Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Minister for Government Services; Trent Zimmerman MP, Chair of the House of Reps Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport; and co-Chairs of the Parliamentary Friends of Hearing Health and Deafness, Dr Fiona Martin MP and Dr Mike Freelander MP. They were joined by 40 other guests comprising Parliamentarians, advisors, senior Departmental officials, consumer groups and members of the Hearing Health Sector Alliance.

Ms Janet Muir, HCIA Director and acting Chair, served as MC, introducing a stellar group of speakers, starting with Ms Lynne Pezzullo, Director, Deloitte Access Economics, who presented key findings of the 2020 report, Hearing for Life – the value of hearing services for vulnerable Australians. Margot Albrecht and Jodie Ryan shared the experiences and challenges they faced as women of working age with untreated hearing loss.

Minister Mark Coulton emphasised the importance of preventative hearing health care and the value to all Australians of the Government’s world-class Hearing Services Program. He concluded his remarks by thanking HCIA for its constructive partnership with the government and important role in the health sector.

Chris Bowen reinforced the importance of access to and choice of hearing services and hearing technology for Australians, wherever they live. He congratulated HCIA on the Hearing for Life report and said, “We take your analysis seriously and look forward to working closely with you, in whatever capacity we have the opportunity.”

Download the running sheet for the Hearing Care Industry Association 6th Parliamentary Breakfast.

HCIA is very thankful to all speakers and to those who attended for helping to make the breakfast such a successful event.

Photographs from the Parliamentary Breakfast held during Hearing Awareness Week, 2020.

Hearing Services Legislation Review 2018-19

In May 2018, the Commonwealth Government notified HCIA and other stakeholders of a review of hearing services legislation.  This “red tape” review is to ensure hearing services regulations are up to date and identify opportunities to streamline, simplify or reduce regulatory burdens. 

HCIA provided its initial response to the Department of Health in May 2018 and is pleased the Department adopted many of our suggestions.   In May 2019, HCIA made a further submission to respond to questions arising from the Department’s consultation process.  Our perspective is informed by the principles of good regulation and the importance of ensuring regulation reflects changes in administration and evolving hearing services and technology. 

HCIA believes that streamlining regulation has the potential to protect the interests of consumers while minimising the regulatory burden on providers.

New legislation and a new provider contract took effect on 1 October 2019.  A transition period has been allowed for certain changes which must be implemented by 1 April 2020.

Read more about the changes.

Roadmap to Hearing Health 2018-19

Australia’s first Hearing Health Roadmap aims to improve the lives of the millions of Australians affected by hearing loss through a coordinated approach to improving hearing health.

The Government commenced the consulting process for the Roadmap in 2018 and finalised it in March 2019. 

HCIA contributed to the development of the Roadmap through presentation on the Hearing Health Committee from the outset working in partnership with other stakeholders in the hearing sector.

Extensive consultation and discussion with stakeholders in the hearing sector, including consumer representatives, resulted in eight key priorities including:

  • a public awareness campaign,
  • child ear health checks,
  • increased availability of Australia’s sign language,
  • Auslan,
  • improved aged care hearing services, and
  • more support for people on low incomes.

A further 147 actions highlight the broad range of initiatives the Government and hearing sector can collaborate on.

Download a copy of the Roadmap to Hearing Health.

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.

Hearing Care Industry Association


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 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