Our mission is to support all Australians who are deaf or hard of hearing to live well in the community

Hearing health and community inclusion are absolutely crucial to general health and wellbeing.

Our mission is 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.

For Australians raised in a hearing world, the act of listening seems so effortless that is not until they strain to hear that we realise how much we take it for granted, and what a barrier its absence can be.

A person is said to have hearing loss when they are not able to hear as well as someone with normal hearing (that’s a hearing threshold of 20dB or higher according to the World Health Organization). Hearing loss may be mild, moderate, severe, or profound. It can affect one ear or both ears, and may lead to difficulty in hearing conversational speech or loud sounds. The term, “hard of hearing” refers to people with hearing loss ranging from mild to severe. People who are hard of hearing usually communicate through spoken language and can benefit from hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other devices, as well as captioning. Cochlear implants also benefit people who have more significant hearing loss. People who are “deaf” mostly have profound hearing loss, which implies very little or no hearing. Deaf people often use sign language for communication.

Key facts:

  • Hearing loss occurs across our life course, from the womb to late age.
  • There are about 4 million Australians with hearing loss. This is expected to double by 2050.
  • It is the biggest disability in adulthood per head of the population.
  • As a cause of burden of disease, hearing impairment is the second-highest ranked disability for men in Australia and number 8 for women.
  • The financial costs of hearing loss in Australia is estimated at $30 billion, not including the social and personal costs to individuals and their families.
  • Untreated age-related hearing loss is a key risk factor for dementia and is associated with the risk of falls, hospitalisation, depression and early mortality.
  • Exposure to loud noise is a major cause of hearing loss and it can be mostly avoided.
  • Otitis media is the main contributing factor to hearing loss among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and it is treatable and preventable. The terrible impact of hearing loss in indigenous people can be seen in poor education outcomes, interactions with the justice system and high incarceration rates, limited life choices, poverty and reduced life spans.

Deafness Forum is the peak body representing citizens who live with hearing loss, have ear or balance disorders, and their families and supporters.

In our work, we won’t leave behind the 16,000 people whose first language is Australian Sign Language; and people for whom a hearing difficulty is accompanied by other conditions or challenges. There are organisations that represent and advocate for them – our plan is wherever possible to amplify these organisations’ messages.

  • We advocate and lobby at all levels of government for a more accessible living environment, and to improve the accessibility of mainstream service systems including where they interface with other levels of government.
  • Inform governments about relevant issues and provide advice on legislation, social policies and reviews that affect our constituents.
  • Ensure the voices of our constituents and consumer representative organisations are considered in consultation processes.
  • We advocate for community understanding of the risk factors for hearing loss and the ways to prevent it.
  • We work with the Australian Government to make hearing care more accessible for more people.
  • We bring people and knowledge together to underpin evidence-based policy and practice, focussing on prevention and early intervention.
  • We are involved in and support research and programs that benefit the 4 million Australians we represent.
  • We are a part of the effort to overcome high levels of ear health issues among First Nation people; and through this, we contribute to Closing the Gap. We also understand the risk of the disappearance of indigenous languages and the cultural loss this would cause, and we want to play a role in highlighting it.

To achieve our mission we have four goals and you can read a summary here.

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.

It was created in 1993 to foster collaboration on systemic issues. Our work encompasses inclusion in communications and the made environment, human rights, justice, education, employment, transport, health, and aged care.

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
  • Hearing Health Sector Alliance
  • Commonwealth Government Aviation Access Forum
  • 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 First Nation people, 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.