About Deafness Forum

Deafness Forum of Australia is the peak national body representing the interests of the 3.5 million Australians who live with hearing impairment.

Our constituency is people with hearing loss, ear and balance disorders, people who communicate using Australian Sign Language (Auslan), and their families. Membership also includes organisations that represent these people; and individuals and associations which provide services that promote hearing health.

Our single-minded mission is to make hearing health & wellbeing a national priority in Australia.

We are the peak representative for Australian consumers in the World Hearing Forum, a global network of stakeholders promoting ear and hearing care that was created in 2019 by the World Health Organization.

What we do

  • represent and promote the interests of our members and others through national consultations, sharing information and advocacy
  • provide a forum where members and all stakeholders can work together to achieve the goal of accessible ear and hearing care for all
  • provide balanced and realistic advice to governments to inform public policy to build a fairer and more inclusive nation
  • encourage and support relevant research and sharing of knowledge and experience

Read the handy guide which includes our Strategic Plan, About Deafness Forum

State of hearing loss in Australia

Hearing impairment is the most common disability of adulthood.

With an ageing population, hearing loss is predicted to increase to one in every four Australians by 2050. About a third of acquired hearing loss is because of noise exposure from workplace noise and leisure activities and is largely preventable. Hearing loss increases from less than one per cent for people younger than 15 years to three in every four people aged over 70 years. About a fifth of the population lives with ear disorders such as Tinnitus and Meniere’s. Hearing loss is a significant and economic cost to Australia − about $15 billion each year. In particular, with our ageing population, and the need for all Australians to stay productive for longer, impact of hearing loss on productivity at work must be viewed as critical. People who want to work and have a hearing loss face challenges that most of their hearing peers won’t be aware of. For some, the barriers are clear at or before they start looking for work and, for many, they become more important during the selection process or at work. Hearing loss can also mean people leave work sooner than they would like.

Deafness Forum practices the social model of disability, addressing environmental factors that inhibit our constituents’ participation in society.  Physical impediments in our sector include communications access, building and transport design, and hearing services affordability.  The main social factor that is negative community attitudes to deafness and how this is played out to limit people’s functioning in education, workforce and social settings.

Augmenting a social model is a person-centred approach recognising that hearing loss is acquired through recreational and workplace noise, illness, medications and as part of the process of ageing.  Acquired hearing loss creates social isolation and is linked to dementia and mental health issues.  Identification, prevention and interventions make significant improvements to a person’s capacity and functionality.