Deafness Forum Australia is the peak body representing the views and interests of the more than 4 million Australians who live with hearing loss, people with hearing difficulties, have ear or balance disorders, people who communicate using Australian Sign Language, and their families and supporters. We are the trusted, national, independent citizen voice for the whole hearing health and deafness sector – the impartial advocate representing all voices that need to be heard.
Our purpose is to support these Australians to live well in the community by making hearing health & wellbeing a national priority.
Hearing loss occurs across the life course. It is the biggest disability per head of the population in adulthood. It affects 1 in 6 Australians. The annual financial cost to Australia exceeds $30B and is rising.
Hearing health and community inclusion are absolutely crucial to general health and wellbeing.
Deafness Forum Australia’s commitment to ear care and hearing health complements the human rights model of disability by acknowledging the fundamental right to health and participation in all facets of life.
The human rights model of disability emphasises the importance of societal inclusion and equal rights for people with disabilities, which aligns with our focus on providing accessible, quality ear care and promoting better hearing health. By addressing hearing loss, we are not merely treating a medical condition; we are enabling individuals with hearing challenges to fully participate in society, thereby upholding their rights to communication, education, employment, and social engagement.
Our approach acknowledges that while disability is a part of human diversity and life, the barriers people with disabilities face are often created by societal attitudes and environments, not just by the medical aspects of their conditions. Therefore, our efforts in ear care and hearing health are aimed not only at medical intervention but also at removing barriers to inclusion and promoting the rights and dignity of individuals with hearing loss. This holistic approach, which combines health and human rights perspectives, reflects a deep commitment to the principles of the human rights model of disability.
We Connect, Collaborate and Impact.
Our Vision is “All Australians who are deaf or hard of hearing live well in the community everywhere throughout Australia.”
Our Mission is “To make hearing health & wellbeing a national priority in Australia”.
Member Driven: Deafness Forum Australia is a membership-based body, which elects its Board of Directors from among its member organisations, ensuring equal representation of each group to provide balance and fairness across our large and diverse sector. Within our resources, we work hard to meet our members’ expectations.
Our membership also includes people and organisations that provide services that promote hearing health.
Peak Body: Deafness Forum Australia is the peak representative body, trusted by governments, public sector organisations, the hearing health sector, the general health sector and the disability sector to represent this constituency.
We are also a part of the effort to overcome the unacceptably high levels of ear health issues among First Nation people – an essential component of Closing the Gap. We work with indigenous advocates to achieve improved hearing health in indigenous communities.
International Representative: We represent Australians in the World Hearing Forum, a global network of stakeholders coordinated by the World Health Organization.
We are Australia’s member of the International Federation of Hard of Hearing People and an associate member of the World Federation of the Deaf.
We are Unique
Deafness Forum Australia is different to other consumer peaks in the sector because it represents ALL consumers, in an impartial and non-partisan way. Through consensus, it develops public policy and actions to improve the lives of 4 million Australians. This is why Deafness Forum Australia enjoys the trust and support of all consumers and others within the hearing health, general health and disability sectors of Australia.
We speak at the national level on behalf of all consumers.
Our ‘scope of work’
Social problems demand social solutions – it’s not just about hearing devices. We work to end negative community attitudes to deafness, hearing loss and hearing difficulties, and ear/balance disorders. We lead the discourse about how we can create a positive community where hearing is recognised and supported, and the strengths of individuals and groups are acknowledged and celebrated, supported by effective public policy and systems.
While we prioritise what we focus on in any one strategic period, Deafness Forum Australia will advocate in all areas, including public policy, that impact on people experiencing hearing related issues.
We address environmental factors that inhibit peoples’ participation in society. Our strategy and approach align with Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-31 and The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, viewing people not as objects of charity, medical treatment and social protection but rather, as full and equal members of society, with human rights.
Our work encompasses the full human experience and includes advocacy for:
- accessibility in communications
- accessibility to the built environment
- human rights
- aged care
- equitable access to quality innovation and technology
- hearing services accessibility and affordability.
We have three areas of strategic focus.
Read about them here.
A set of principles guide our strategies and daily work.
You can read about them here.
Our Four Goals.
To achieve our mission to ‘support all Australians who are deaf or hard of hearing to live well in the community by making hearing health & wellbeing a national priority’ we have four goals and you can read a summary here.
Our network of influence.
Read the list of our 45 influential member organisations representing all facets of the hearing health and disability advocacy sectors.
Deafness Forum represents Australia as a Foundation Member of the World Hearing Forum (part of WHO), as a member of the International Federation of Hard of Hearing People, and as an associate member of the World Federation of the Deaf.
Deafness Forum is a member of:
- Australasian Newborn Hearing Screening Committee
- Coalition for a National Strategy for Prevention of Avoidable Hearing Loss
- National Disability Insurance Scheme Forum
- Australian Federation of Disability Organisations
- Australian Electoral Commission Disability Advisory Committee
- Standards Australia committees
- Transport for NSW Accessible Transport Advisory Committee
- ACCAN Standing Committee on Disability Issues
Deafness Forum created the:
- Federal Parliamentary Friends of Hearing Health and Deafness
- NSW Parliamentary Friendship Group for Hearing Health and Deafness
- Western Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group for Hearing Health and Deafness
Deafness Forum is a Registered Charity. Donations of $2 or more are tax-deductible. To donate, go to https://www.givenow.com.au/organisation/public/534
We acknowledge the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community: we pay respect to them and their cultures, to elders past, present and future. We want to be part of the effort to overcome the unacceptably high levels of ear health issues among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and we understand that it is an essential component of Closing the Gap. We also understand the risk of the disappearance of indigenous sign languages and the cultural loss it would cause.