Ear health in Australia
- about 3.6 million people have some level of hearing loss
- more than 1.3 million people live with a hearing condition that could have been prevented
- more than 1 in 3 Australians have noise-related ear damage
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have a much higher rate of ear disease than other children, which can result in hearing loss.
As Australia’s population ages, we expect the number of people with a hearing impairment to double to an estimated 7.8 million people in 2060.
Read about what we're doing to reduce the incidence and consequences of avoidable hearing loss in Australia.
About hearing loss
Many factors can cause hearing loss, including:
- age – hearing loss increases from about half of those aged 60 to 70, to 70% of those aged 70 and over, and 80% of those aged 80 and over
- exposure to loud noise – this is often preventable
- untreated ear disease
Impacts of hearing loss
Poor ear and hearing health is a serious problem that can have profound lifelong consequences. Many ear diseases and conditions can affect ear health, and lead to hearing loss.
Hearing loss can:
- affect a child’s ability to listen, learn and talk
- result in lower school attendance
- affect a person’s ability to get an education and find work
- affect social and emotional wellbeing, including a higher risk of low self-esteem, low confidence, memory loss and depression
- lead to social isolation.
For more information or to find support, see:
- Hearing Services Program – provides free high-quality hearing services and devices to eligible Australians.
- our directory of Hearing Services Program service providers
- Department of Veterans’ Affairs – provides veterans with hearing supports not already covered by the Hearing Services Program
- The National Disability Insurance Scheme – funds hearing support for participants aged 26 and over who are not eligible for the Hearing Services Program
- Deafness Forum of Australia – advocates for people with hearing loss
- First Voice – advocates for member organisations that provide early intervention services for children
Next Sense – provides customised services to help break down barriers for children, adults and families of people with hearing or vision loss
Sound Fair – works to improve hearing equality and to make urban, work and personal environments more accessible
The Shepherd Centre – provides specialised programs for children with hearing loss and their families
- National Auslan Interpreter Booking Service – a free interpreter booking service.
- National Relay Service – for assistance communicating over the phone
State and territory children hearing services
Find out what government-funded hearing services support is available in your state or territory:
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia.
Face masks and hearing loss
Face masks can create challenges for people with hearing loss. To make it easier:
- make sure hearing aids are turned on
- keep background noise to a minimum
- use a mask that has a transparent window, to enable lip reading
- speak slowly and clearly
- rephrase the sentence when not understood
- communicate in writing
- use a translation app.
If you have a hearing device:
- be gentle when putting on or removing a face mask
- avoid pulling on the straps, to prevent dislodging your hearing device
- wear a mask with adjustable fabric ties rather than elastic
- use a mask holder on the back of your head.
If you are communicating with someone who has hearing loss and needs to see your lips, you can remove your mask. Follow the COVID-19 related guidance to protecting yourself and others.