Hearing Health in Australia
One of the most important inquiries of the Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport was our 2017 inquiry on hearing health, the report of which we entitled Still waiting to be heard…. With 3.6 million Australians living with a hearing impairment, this is such an important area for so many in our community. Our committee’s report helped lay the foundation for the Roadmap for Hearing Health and was a great example of the positive work of the committee process. In this regard, I want to acknowledge the member for Hindmarsh, who was deputy chair at the time, and other members of the committee.
Too often committee reports collect dust on parliamentary shelves, so I’m delighted that this year’s federal budget has included a significant $21.2 million commitment to the hearing road map, and I particularly thank the Minister for Health and the Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government for their leadership in this regard. This funding is a very welcome step to implementing the road map and will support education and awareness-raising activities, improved aged-care support, expanded screening and research, and enhanced workforce capability. I’m really pleased that the funding will also boost support for Indigenous communities, where hearing health issues, particularly because of the prevalence of otitis media, are frankly at shocking levels.
The work of advocates in the hearing sector has been so impressive during this process. I acknowledge one of my own constituents, David Brady, who is chair of the Deafness Forum of Australia and a real inspiration, and particularly those wonderful organisations, like the Shepherd Centre in my own state, who do such amazing work with young hearing impaired children. There is more to do, but this is a very welcome start.