Change ahead for Australia’s Hearing Services Program

A review of the Hearing Services Program has begun.

A new Expert Panel, led by Professor Mike Woods, and panelist Dr Zena Burgess PhD, will review the program and identify possible reforms to ensure that the program remains client-focused while modernising key components in the context of policy, markets and technological developments.

The Expert Panel does not have any expertise in hearing health issues.

The Hearing Services Program funds hearing services for Australian citizens and permanent residents, including children and young people under 26, who satisfy its eligibility criteria.

Hearing Australia (formerly called Australian Hearing) will continue to be the single provider of Hearing Services Program services for eligible children and young people under 26. This ensures that quality safeguards remain in place for this age group.

With an ageing population and an increasing demand for hearing services, the social and economic costs of hearing loss in Australia are significant. The Panel will review the Program, which has been in place since 1997.

The Hearing Services Program Review will focus on:

  • whether the program delivers services aligned with clinical need and contemporary service delivery
  • how the Voucher and device maintenance payment system compares with advances in the manufacturing sector and product offering
  • how technology is changing the provision of services through the program
  • how program services are currently delivered and whether access can be enhanced for vulnerable Australians and in thin markets, such as regional, rural and remote areas.

This aligns with the Government’s broader agenda to reform rural health.

“I am pleased to be appointed to lead this Review, and to be working with Dr Burgess,” says Professor Woods. “Access to quality hearing health services for Australians who are hard of hearing is vital. Reviewing the Hearing Services Program offers a valuable opportunity to modernise and deliver a program that is more client-outcome focused and supported by a strong evidence base.”

Through her experience living and working in regional Victoria, Dr Burgess understands the challenges for remote patients. She is particularly interested in empowering patients to determine their own health outcomes.

“I have a strong interest in health reform and consumer health outcomes, particularly around hearing,” says Dr Burgess. “This Review provides a valuable opportunity to deliver a hearing health program that is accessible, fair and equitable.”

The Panel will be in place until June 2021 and provide a final report to Government in July 2021.

Find out more:

Did you know that the Hearing Services Program and the NDIS are now working together to deliver more supports for those who have hearing loss or are Deaf?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme and the Australian Government’s Hearing Services Program will have different roles in providing supports to people with hearing difficulties. But they now work together to make sure that quality hearing services continue to be available to people of all ages. To do this there have been some changes, while other things remain the same.

The full story is here on Deafness Forum’s website