We want the new Government to listen to 4 million Australians and make hearing health & wellbeing a national priority.
One in six Australians has a hearing issue of some kind – that’s almost four million people that have hearing loss, an ear and balance disorder or are deaf.
With an ageing population and a generation of teenagers doing irreparable harm to their ears through loud headphones, that figure is expected to jump, alarmingly, to one in four by 2050.
Hearing loss has been linked to risks of depression, dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease and other serious health problems.
Hearing loss is also expensive – costing the nation $11 billion a year in lost productivity, plus costs to our health system and the cost of informal careers.
We’re calling for hearing checks for all children before they start primary and high school. Australia has the world’s best newborn screening but children can develop hearing issues for any number of reasons and we need to make sure they’re not falling through the gaps in the crucial learning years.
We need universal hearing checks to sit alongside other health screening programs for everyone over 50.
We ask for hearing aids to be tax deductible. It’s crazy that people are having to pay as much as $6000 or more for devices they need just to be able to work, to support their families, and contribute to Australia – because a twenty year old tax rule prohibits hearing devices being claimed as a workplace expense.
We want greater access to Australian Sign Language services for families and individuals.
It’s obvious that there should be a national campaign to break down the stigmas around hearing and to raise awareness about the need to make our schools, our workplaces and our communities more inclusive and accessible for everyone with a hearing issue.
These are achievable reforms that will make a huge difference to the lives of nearly 4 million Australians young and old.
And it’s an investment that will keep more Australians in work, make sure our kids reach their potential and ease the pressure on our already stretched health budgets.