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Our Mission: the state of hearing in Australia

Deafness Forum of Australia is the peak national body representing the views and interests of the 3.95 million Australians who live with hearing loss, those who have ear or balance disorders, people who also communicate using Australian Sign Language, and their families and supporters.

Our mission is to make hearing health & wellbeing a national priority in Australia.

Read our 2021 Annual Report – Deafness Forum Ltd.

Hearing loss occurs across the life course, from the womb to late age. And it does not discriminate – a favourable postcode won’t help.

It is the biggest disability per head of population in adulthood. It affects 1 in 6 Australians today and 1 in 4 by 2050.

The annual financial cost to Australia exceeds $30B and is rising.

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

We advocate for public campaigns to promote an understanding of the risk factors for hearing loss; for people in at-risk groups to self-identify their hearing issues and sources of risk; and for a strengthening of behavioural change in high-risk groups.

We support development of accessible ear health information tailored to specific groups.

We are 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 sign languages and the cultural loss this would cause and we want to play a role in highlighting it.

We represent Australians in the World Hearing Forum, a global network of stakeholders that was created by the World Health Organization. We are the Australian member of the International Federation of Hard of Hearing People.

Deafness Forum is a member of:

  • Australasian Newborn Hearing Screening Committee
  • Hearing Health Sector Alliance of Australia
  • Coalition for a National Strategy for Prevention of Avoidable Hearing Loss
  • Ida Institute for person-centred care, based in Denmark
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme CEO Forum
  • Disability Support Services Committee (departments of Social Services and Health)
  • Australian Federation of Disability Organisations
  • Australia’s Hearing Health Sector Alliance
  • Aviation Access Forum (Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government)
  • Australian Electoral Commission Disability Advisory Committee
  • Museum of Australian Democracy Disability Reference Group
  • Standards Australia Committee FP002 (Fire detection)
  • 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

SOME OF THE THINGS WE’VE DONE in the last 5 years

  • In 2016 we began work on a national training program for staff and volunteers to provide hearing assistance in aged care & hospitals. Our program is endorsed by Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation and both peak bodies for the Audiology profession.
  • Persuaded the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to add hearing health and ear care to the audit standards for residential aged care providers
  • We were advisers to the Health Department’s Grief and Trauma Package for aged care – these are resources and training products relating to illnesses and deaths from COVID
  • As a member of the Hearing Health ministerial reference group, we co-authored Australia’s Hearing Health Roadmap in 2019
  • Designed the NDIS Hearing Stream in 2019-20
  • Persuaded the Government to defer the transition of clients of the Government’s Hearing Services Program to the NDIS by 12 months to allow the sector to adequately prepare for the changes
  • Persuaded the Health department to stop plans to commercialise the Government’s Hearing Agency, Hearing Australia for at least 4 years
  • As a member of the roundtable for the National Safety and Quality Primary Healthcare Standards, introduced hearing and ear care to these standards for the first time
  • We have been the steward for national Hearing Awareness Week for the last 15 years and in recent years, the steward of World Hearing Day.

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.