Hearing health in the Federal Budget

Soundfair welcomes the funding commitments for hearing health in the 2021 Federal Budget. In particular, as part of the Hearing Health Roadmap, we look forward to the roll out of a $5m national hearing health awareness campaign to encourage people to seek treatment and to reduce stigma.

At Soundfair, we know that people are more than just ears and hearing conditions require more than just devices. Put simply, good communication is everyone’s responsibility. The stigma associated with hearing conditions and the discrimination experienced by people who are deaf and hard of hearing is present in our schools, workplaces and even in our social interactions. The lived experience stories of stigma and discrimination we collected informed Soundfair’s submission to the Royal Commission on Disability, which can be read here.

The redevelopment of the Hearing Services Online (HSO) portal – with a funding commitment of $5.7m – is also welcome news. Making hearing healthcare more easily accessible is core to Soundfair’s vision of a fair world for people with hearing conditions. The Hearing Services Program Review, currently underway, is a significant opportunity to put consumer needs at the centre of service provision. Soundfair’s submission to the Review panel can be read here.

Soundfair’s Hearing Bank offers hearing health services and reconditioned hearing aids at low or no cost to people in our community who would otherwise be unable to afford care. Our Connection Coach model puts the individual at the centre of their hearing health journey and provides person-centred and whole-person care. Soundfair’s clinic supports people to address the social, emotional and audiological aspects of their hearing condition. We connect people with the information, resources, supports, services and communities they need to reach their goals, self-advocate and live an empowered life. The $7.3m committed to a competitive research grants program to establish an evidence base for interventions to support vulnerable Australians is an opportunity to better understand the needs of people with living with the full diversity of hearing conditions and how to support them.

Finally, we welcome the announcements of progress made in the areas of hearing health in residential aged care and the hearing health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Soundfair’s vision is a world that is fulfilling, accessible, inclusive and respectful for all people living with hearing conditions. We are proud of the work we are doing with VACCHO (the peak body for Aboriginal health and wellbeing in Victoria) and our workplace education program for aged care workers.