Dec 2020 Australian Hearing Hub
The Hon Mark Coulton MP
Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government
Ground-breaking research and world-leading facilities were on show when the Federal Regional Health Minister visited the Australian Hearing Hub and Macquarie University in Sydney.
Minister Mark Coulton, who suffers hearing loss due to industrial deafness, said he was thrilled to see first-hand the innovation that is achieving positive outcomes for Australians with hearing challenges. “The Australian Hearing Hub is an awe-inspiring facility and work conducted here is actively improving the lives of people in each corner of Australia and right across the globe, and the Australian Government is proud to play a key role,” Minister Coulton said. “Whether it is developing new teleaudiology standards to help tackle the peril of distance for rural and remote Australians or studying the feasibility of cochlear implants for seniors with profound hearing loss, the Federal Government is actively engaged with The Hub to identify future opportunities while delivering services to improve lives.”
Federal Member for Bennelong, John Alexander, whose electorate is home to The Hub, welcomed the Minister’s visit and congratulated the Hub on its work to improve the lives of deaf and hearing-impaired Australians. “There is no denying the great work of the Australian Hearing Hub and I am particularly pleased to join the Minister to have a good look at Hearing Australia’s facilities here today. It is facilities like these that make Bennelong the Innovation Capital of Australia,” Mr Alexander said. “I congratulate Macquarie University for their leadership in hosting the Hearing Hub and look forward to continuing to work with Hub Members to ensure this facility continues its world-leading research and education.”
The Hearing Hub unites many of the nation’s brightest researchers, educators, clinicians, and innovators with expertise in linguistics, audiology, speech pathology, cognitive and language sciences, psychology, nanofabrication, and engineering sciences
The 2020–21 Federal Budget invested $21.2 million to fund key initiatives from the sector-developed Roadmap for Hearing Health. “This investment is delivering a national awareness campaign to prevent unnecessary hearing loss; a research grants programme; workforce initiatives in both the rural and aged care sectors; projects to reduce hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children; and forming telehealth standards to ensure consistent and high quality hearing services,” Minister Coulton said.
Nearly four million Australians are currently affected by some form of hearing impairment, with this number expected to increase to 7.8 million people by 2060. “Delivering the Roadmap will help ensure Australians have access to quality services and support, which is vital to prevent further hearing loss,” Minister Coulton said. “These measures will assist Australia to continue delivering innovative and efficient hearing services, and keep our country at the forefront of excellence for hearing support.”
Alongside the Roadmap, the Australian Government will also review and improve the Hearing Services Program, which provides hearing tests, assessments, and subsidised devices to vulnerable Australians including pensioners, veterans, indigenous Australians, those with complex needs, and people in rural and remote areas.
The Australian Government continues to implement projects and strategies to improve hearing health, including:
- The national rollout of innovative hearing screening tools for primary health care clinics in remote areas, through a collaboration between Hearing Australia and the Royal Flying Doctors Service
- The development of nationally-consistent clinical standards for paediatric audiology and teleaudiology by the Ear Science Institute and Audiology Australia
- Roll-out of a free sign language interpreting service for senior Australians, being delivered by Auslan Connections
- Funding the National Acoustic Laboratory to examine the clinical and economic benefits of upgrading sound processors in clients aged over 65
- A review of the Minimum Hearing Loss Threshold used under the Hearing Services Program, also being undertaken by the National Acoustic Laboratory