The Australian Government’s Hearing Services Program (the Program) is highly valued by people with hearing loss and those who support them.
I recently received the Report of the Independent Review of the Hearing Services Program from the Expert Panel of Professor Michael Woods and Dr Zena Burgess, supported by the Hearing Services Review Taskforce. I would like to thank the Expert Panel and the Taskforce for their work over the past 12 months.
Since its inception in 1997, hearing services delivered through the Program have remained largely unchanged. The completion of this review of the current arrangements has proved timely.
I understand the Expert Panel has engaged with the community in drafting this comprehensive Report, including through several rounds of public consultation and associated stakeholder meetings with the hearing care industry; consumer advocate groups and clients; professional associations; and academics.
I extend my gratitude to all stakeholders for their contributions and am confident the Expert Panel has considered their feedback in finalising the Report.
The Report will be published on the Hearing Services Program website shortly and I will be considering it in detail over the coming weeks and months. The Department of Health will continue to engage with the hearing sector on the Report’s recommendations.
The Report indicates that over half of all eligible people with hearing loss are not taking active advantage of services available through the Program. It highlights a need to modernise key components of the Program in the context of shifting consumer expectations, market changes and technological developments.
The Expert Panel, through its recommendations, has aimed to optimise hearing outcomes for clients including through improving the equity, effectiveness, governance and sustainability of the Program.
I note some recommendations are complex and would have significant impacts for consumers, the professional workforce and industry. These will require further consultation. Given other recommendations would have significant financial impacts or require legislative changes, it might take longer for the Government to consider and formally respond to these recommendations.
I encourage all stakeholders to remain engaged with the Review and look forward to continuing to work with the sector on its implementation. In the meantime, I would ask that any comments or queries about the report or the Government’s response are directed to the Department’s Hearing Services Program Review Team via: firstname.lastname@example.org.