The Government has announced its arrangements for NDIS funded hearing services to commence on 1 July 2020. And the decisions are framed for the benefit of consumers.
Before this announcement, advocates were concerned that consumers would not be given adequate time to prepare for changes, should they be introduced. A Government taskforce announced these arrangements after consultations with Deafness Forum and its members, and other organisations.
CHILDREN 0-26 YEARS
There is to be no change to the way that infants, children and young adults aged 0 to 26 years access their hearing services. Hearing and communication programs including device fitting and maintenance will be provided through the Community Service Obligations component of the Australian Government Hearing Services Program with Hearing Australia as the sole provider.
Children will also be able to register as NDIS participants where they can access additional supports such as early intervention services, Auslan language development, and technology that is not provided under the Hearing Services Program. The child’s NDIS plan will include funding for these additional supports but it will not include funding for the services provided under the Hearing Services Program.
ADULTS 26-65 YEARS
Adults who are eligible for the Australian Government Hearing Services Program will continue to receive their hearing and communication programs including device fitting and maintenance under that Program. If they meet the access requirements for the NDIS they can access additional supports such as technology that is not provided under the Hearing Services Program through NDIS funding.
Adults aged 26-65 years with hearing loss who are not eligible for the Hearing Services Program can test their access to the NDIS. If they meet the access requirements then their NDIS plan will include funding for all of the supports assessed as reasonable and necessary including audiological services, devices and maintenance.
If a person does not meet the criteria for the Hearing Services Program or the NDIS, the options for accessing hearing services include the Job Access Program, hearing aid banks or self-funding their hearing services.
ADULTS 65 YEARS AND OVER
Adults 65 years and over who are eligible for the Australian Government Hearing Services Program will continue to receive their hearing and communication programs including device fitting and maintenance under that Program.
Adults aged 65 years and over are not eligible to join the NDIS. But if the person was a NDIS participant prior to the age of 65 years they can continue to receive services as a participant after turning 65.
If a person does not meet the criteria for the Hearing Services Program and they were not previously an NDIS participant before turning 65 years, then options for accessing hearing services include the Job Access Program if they are still working, hearing aid banks or self-funding their hearing services.
The new arrangements will address the concerns that have been raised by Deafness Forum and its member organisations over a number of years, particularly in relation to services to children with hearing loss.
From 1 July 2020 the Hearing Services Program (HSP) will operate alongside the NDIS and will continue providing hearing services to eligible HSP clients. The paediatric service offering under the HSP is not being rolled into the NDIS.
Clients of the Community Service Obligations (CSO) component of the HSP, including children and young adults under the age of 26 years will continue to receive hearing services from Hearing Australia under the CSO Program.
CSO program clients will continue to receive services
- from appropriately skilled audiologists
- that are person/family centred and are based on the latest research evidence
- that are available at locations in urban, rural and remote areas
- that are delivered consistently across Australia and monitored through a comprehensive quality framework
The statistical information on hearing impaired children and young adults in Australia will continue to be maintained by Hearing Australia and published annually.
If CSO clients require supports that are beyond the scope of the HSP and they meet the access requirements for the NDIS then the additional supports, where reasonable and necessary, may be funded through the NDIS, for example: early intervention therapy, Auslan language development and assistive technology that is not available under the HSP.
People with hearing loss aged 26 and over who are not eligible for the HSP can test their access to the NDIS and if they meet the access requirements they will be able to receive reasonable and necessary hearing services and supports funded under the NDIS.
Deafness Forum will continue to advocate for support for people with hearing loss on low income who do not qualify for the HSP or the NDIS.