Soundfair’s Position Statement:

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S DECISION TO SCRAP CAPTEL LEAVES THOUSANDS IN THE LURCH

Soundfair is Victoria’s leading independent consumer advocacy and support organisation. We’re a not-for-profit, member-based charity, based in Melbourne, Victoria. There are other Better Hearing Australia* sites across Australia, spanning from Queensland to Western Australia.

We exist to eliminate the social and emotional impacts of hearing conditions.

With 80+ years of advocating on behalf of our members and consumers, we believe it is time to publicly state our position in relation to the Federal Government’s decision to axe CapTel early 2020.

The discontinuation of supporting CapTel has the potential to socially isolate an already vulnerable community, those living with hearing conditions. The emotional and social impacts of living with hearing conditions puts individuals at a greater risk of developing anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. To remove such a vital tool, CapTel, which connects individuals with loved ones and their community is completely out of step with community expectations.

We would like to echo the Deafness Forum of Australia’s sentiment on the matter: We are appealing to politicians to genuinely reconsider axing CapTel. We are more than willing to look at alternatives and solutions. For instance, an extension until a suitable alternative is in play, in line with consumer’s expectations, is the direction we would like to see our government take. We are open to having a further conversation about solutions and extensions.

Dr Caitlin Barr CEO of Soundfair states, “It is truly disappointing to see a basic human need, access to social inclusion, be politicised and stripped back. This is not in any way going to support the needs of those living with hearing conditions, nor will it lead to better health

outcomes. I will happily speak with politicians and ministers, on all sides of government, to support them to realise that what they’re doing is unfair.”

As one of our trusted consumers told us, “The decision to stop supporting the CapTel handset is unfair and will discriminate against the four thousand Australians who rely on CapTel in both their work and personal lives on a daily basis.” – Soundfair consumer.

We implore the Federal Government to reconsider their position, and if nothing more, explore the possibility of an extension until a suitable alternative is in play, in line with consumer’s expectations.

For further comment from Dr Caitlin Barr, please contact Camille Gierck [email protected]u

*Please note, at the time of writing this position statement we were known as Better Hearing Australia (Vic).