Around 3.6 million Australians are affected by hearing loss, yet hearing services account for less than 1% of the health budget.
It has been estimated that in 2017 hearing loss cost the Australian economy $15.9 billion, mostly through lost productivity.
According to The Lancet Commission, hearing loss is the largest of the potentially modifiable risk factors for dementia.
By 2060 the number of Australians with hearing loss could more than double to 7.8 million.
Hearing health matters, yet the Coalition Government has a poor track record on hearing:
· First the Coalition’s National Commission of Audit recommended the privatisation of Australian Hearing.
· Subsequently the 2014 Budget included a scoping study for privatisation of Australian Hearing.
· In in the lead up to the 2016 election they were forced to back away from privatisation.
· In 2018 they were caught out considering a harsh restriction in the eligibility criteria to access government support for hearing services.
· Then they delayed providing a response to the ‘Still waiting to be heard…’ report from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport inquiry into the Hearing Health and Wellbeing of Australia.
· When the Liberal Government finally did respond, the response was underwhelming and the Government failed to rule out privatising Australian hearing.
In spite of this Government’s lack of interest, hearing services in Australia are among the best in the world, delivered by the world class Australian Hearing since 1947.
Labor will keep Australian Hearing in Government hands.
The 2019 World Hearing Day theme is “Check your hearing!”. The World Health Organisation is launching a free app that allows people to check their hearing. More information is available at www.who.int/deafness/hearWHO/en/