June 2017 9News, SBS, Sky News, Northern Star

Hundreds of cochlear implant patients are receiving new and improved devices thanks to a New South Wales government grant. Sydney artist Angie Goto received the upgraded device nine years after getting her outdated cochlear implant. “You guys take it for granted listening,” Ms Goto told 9NEWS. “Where with deaf people, we’re always concentrating, listening and lip reading.” The new implants also provide patients with Bluetooth and wireless connectivity making simple tasks like using the phone or watchingtelevision even easier.

The state government is funding $2.8 million to deliver 370 public patients of all ages across New South Wales with the technology - the most advanced in implants. Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the new device would be a “giant leap”. “It’s one small step for the individual – but it’s actually a giant leap for everyone around them because it connects them,” Mr Hazzard said. "Every single hearing-impaired adult patient in the NSW public health system will now be able to continue to enjoy the quality of life that this amazing Australian invention provides.”

When Ms Goto tried the device for the first time, she was surprised by its clarity. “Wow! It’s very clear. Wow, it’s a much better microphone,” she said. She even marvelled at being able to hear her husband’s voice as well as noisy construction work.

Audiologist Jane Brew said it was “special” to see the huge impact the new technology is having on people’s lives. “Just being able to see the impact that this technology can make for people is super special,” Ms Brew said. 

Jane BrewFunding will allow the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIBDC) to purchase and coordinate the replacement of up to 370 cochlear sound processors for NSW public patients before they become obsolete at the end of 2019.

The replacement of the sound processor will be done free of charge at a patient's routine audiology appointment and does not require extra surgery. RIBDC's Chief Executive Chris Rehn said the upgrades will be life-changing for recipients - it will greatly improve their social life and, for some, enable them to stay in the workforce.

"This significant funding boost means that hundreds of NSW Cochlear implant recipients will be able to remain connected and continue to enjoy a world of better hearing," Mr Rehn said.