We are making Hearing Health a national priority

Connect, collaborate, impact.

Hearing health is absolutely essential for general health.

Deafness Forum’s mission is to make hearing health & wellbeing a national priority in Australia. It is the peak body representing the views and interests of the 4 million Australians who live with hearing loss, have ear or balance disorders, people who also communicate using Australian Sign Language, and their families and supporters. In May 2022, the Australian Government appointed it to be a new Health Peak body.

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 an associate member of World Federation of the Deaf.

Hearing loss occurs across our life course, from the womb to late age. It does not discriminate – a favourable postcode won’t help. It is the biggest disability per head of the population in adulthood. It affects 1 in 6 Australians today and 1 in 4 by 2050.

Key facts:

  • 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
  • There are about 3.6 million Australians with hearing loss. These numbers are expected to increase in coming decades. For example, the number of people with hearing loss is predicted to double by 2060
  • Untreated age-related hearing loss is a key risk factor for dementia and is associated with 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

In Australia, a universal neonatal hearing screening program covers 98% of all births. This facilitates early diagnosis, intervention, and management of hearing loss and identifies suspected hearing loss in around 250–300 infants per year. (Ching, TY, Oong & Wanrooy 2006; Ching, TYC et al. 2017). Hearing loss may also be identified later in childhood due to delayed acquisition of developmental milestones or changes in behaviour that are suggestive of hearing loss. Children with suspected hearing loss are referred by a specialist paediatrician for comprehensive evaluation by audiologists experienced in paediatric hearing assessment. If the child is confirmed to have hearing loss, they are referred to a specialist paediatrician or otolaryngologist in an outpatient setting where testing to investigate the underlying cause is performed.

Our inattention to hearing health over the first half of our lives puts later-life hearing at risk, causing additional pressure on health- and social-care systems that struggle to adapt to the needs of Australia’s ageing populations.

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 the 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 also 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

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.