Ear Health Vital as Australians Age

Up to one in every four Australians could be affected by hearing loss in future as the population aged, Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash has warned.

Page last updated: 05 May 2014

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5 May 2014

Up to one in every four Australians could be affected by hearing loss in future as the population aged, Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash warned today.

In her opening address to the 32nd World Congress of Audiology in Brisbane, Minister Nash said that hearing loss was common and on the rise.

“Australians experience hearing loss both from birth and through ageing,” Minister Nash said. “In fact, it’s estimated that one quarter of all Australians could have hearing loss by 2050.”

Minister Nash said between 9 and 12 Australian babies per 10,000 live births had a moderate or greater hearing loss in both ears.

“Around another 23 children per 10,000 will acquire a hearing loss that requires hearing aids by the age of 17 through accident, illness or other causes,” she said.

“Sharing of new research, expertise and knowledge through conferences such as this is therefore very important to enable people and nations to minimise the disadvantage caused by hearing loss.”

Minister Nash said the Australian Government had a long history of close involvement in funding hearing research and support for hearing impaired Australians. The Hearing Services Programme supports access to hearing services to more than 600,000 people each year.

“The incidence of hearing loss and deafness is much higher among Indigenous Australian children,” Minister Nash said. “Sadly, Indigenous Australians experience some of the highest levels of ear disease and hearing loss in the world, with rates up to ten times more than those for non-Indigenous Australians.”

“The Australian Government is committed to “closing the gap” between Indigenous and other Australians on ear health as well as other health and social indicators.

“This will take time but we are making progress with valued assistance from hearing practitioners and the medical profession.”

Minister Nash said the Government also continued to provide funding and support for research and prevention activities targeted to reducing the national longer-term burden of hearing loss.

In the past, Australian Government assistance helped to fund research by Professor Graeme Clark which led to the development of the cochlear implant or bionic ear’ which has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of hearing impaired people around the world.

The World Congress of Audiology at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre is being attended by around 1,500 experts on hearing loss from around the world.

Participants include audiologists, audiometrists, medical practitioners, business entrepreneurs, policy makers, speech pathologists, early intervention educators, hearing scientists, and consumer advocates.

The Congress was organised by Audiology Australia and the HEARing Cooperative Research Centre on behalf of the International Society of Audiology.

Minister's media contact: Carolyn Martin, 0417 966 328

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