Change ahead for Australia’s Hearing Services Program

A review of the Hearing Services Program (HSP) is underway.

A Government-appointed panel is currently reviewing the HSP to identify possible reforms to ensure that the program remains client-focused while modernising key components in the context of policy, markets and technological developments.

In response to this review, Deafness Forum partnered with other leading consumer representatives to present our views. Our expert consumer advisory group examined the strengths and weaknesses of the HSP and made recommendations about its future. The members of this group were Deafness Council Western Australia, Hearing Matters Australia, UsherKids Australia, Hear For You, Parents of Deaf Children and Aussie Deaf Kids.

Read our joint submission: Hearing Services Program Review DFA Submission 4 Dec 2020

Consumers are very supportive of the HSP because it makes a significant difference to people’s lives. The aim of the HSP is to reduce the incidence and consequences of avoidable hearing loss in the Australian community by providing access to high quality hearing services and devices. The HSP has two parts:–

  • the Voucher component of the HSP is valued for the important services it provides to older Australians on low income who experience hearing loss due to the ageing process.
  • the Community Service Obligations Program is recognised as being absolutely vital in addressing the needs of highly vulnerable client groups and those who need to receive specialised services. The CSO Program provides critical services through its outreach program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and eligible adults, and for its specialised services to adults with complex hearing rehabilitation needs.

Parent groups in particular feel that the HSP has been threatened by various reviews and the introduction of the NDIS and want to again make it clear why it is so important to them. Families appreciate that:

  • the HSP allows for a family centred response, giving families time, information and support to allow them to make an informed decision for their baby or child
  • children diagnosed with hearing loss, particularly infants diagnosed with hearing loss through newborn hearing screening programs, are given the highest priority for service over other client groups
  • the child receives an individually tailored program to meet the needs of the child and the family, and to support the child to reach their full potential
  • there are strong relationships between audiological services, educational services and other support services including referrers
  • the service is provided by highly skilled clinicians; the clinical programs are research-based and supported by clinical protocols and there is a quality framework supporting it
  • the programs are solely focussed on achieving the best outcome for the child
  • services are equitable and not based on the family’s ability to pay and are not influenced by commercial practices such as sales targets or financial incentives.

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. Read all about it here