The report of an independent review of the Australian Government’s Hearing Services Program has been released today. The review was undertaken to provide ideas and recommendations for the government to consider, including ways of ensuring the program improves the outcome of vulnerable Australians who live with hearing loss, by being more client and outcomes focused.
Minister for Regional Health, Dr David Gillespie said the Government would carefully consider the various recommendations put forward as part of the Review process.
“I want to ensure that as part of this process we preserve choice, improve the equity, effectiveness, and sustainability of the program, and build on the key priorities from the Hearing Health Roadmap that the Government has already funded in Budget 2020,” Minister Gillespie said.
“Whether you are born with hearing loss or it occurs later, it can have a huge impact on your life.
“Right now, one in six Australian adults suffers from hearing loss, and this is expected to rise to about one in four adults by 2050, as the population ages.”
Minister Gillespie said the Government wants to ensure that all Australians with hearing loss, wherever they live, can get top quality assistance to help them get the best out of their lives.
“The Hearing Services Program already provides an excellent service, and with the help of the independent review, we have been keen to see additional ideas put forward that will build on the program’s strengths to make it even better for even more people,” he said.
“There are a range of recommendations that the Government will consider in depth before making a comprehensive response to the review in due course.”
The Minister would like to assure all stakeholders that the Government will be consulting further on how to take some of the recommendations forward and provide certainty to the sector.
“In the meantime, I encourage interested parties and consumers of hearing services to continue to be involved in the outcomes of the review through the hearing services team in my Department,” he said.
The review confirmed the program was highly valued, both by people with hearing loss and those who support them personally and in their school or work lives. In 2019-20, it provided more than 1.4 million services to Australians, including providing and fitting hearing aids for more than 392,000 people.
The Government set up the independent review in August 2020 to seek further ideas about how to further strengthen the program and make it more accessible, especially for people outside the major cities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The review was also tasked to explore reasons as to why more than half of those who are eligible are not accessing the program.
“On behalf of the Government, I would like to thank the expert panel, Professor Mike Woods and Dr Zena Burgess, and everyone who has contributed to this review,” Minister Gillespie said.
Stakeholders including consumer advocacy groups, hearing services clients, providers, industry, professional associations, and academics participated in the review.
The report is available to download at: health.gov.au/resources/publications/report-of-the-independent-review-of-the-hearing-services-program.