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Wednesday, 2 April 1980
Page: 1332

Senator WALTERS (TASMANIA) -My question is directed to Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle in her capacities as Minister for Social Security and Minister representing the Minister for Health. Can the Minister inform me of the degree of hearing impairment needed before a patient is classified as handicapped and entitled to social security assistance in the supply of a hearing aid?

Is that degree the usual rate of hearing impairment before a hearing aid is required? What assistance, government or otherwise, is available to persons requiring hearing aids?

Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle (VICTORIA) - Under the requirements of the Department of Health there is provision for hearing aids to be supplied if the National Acoustic Laboratories audiologists consider it would assist an individual's communication problem. This depends not only on the degree of hearing loss but also on the individual's particular problems and any special needs that arise. The practice is generally in line with those used by professional audiologists who recommend the fitting of hearing aids. The Department of Social Security, through the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service, is able to supply hearing aids to people who have been accepted for rehabilitation under the Social Services Act. The expert advice of the National Acoustic Laboratories is sought in respect of both the degree of hearing impairment and the relevant aid that would be required to assist. Pensioners and supporting parents who hold pensioner health benefit cards are entitled to free hearing aids, including repairs and batteries, from the National Acoustic Laboratories. I do not know whether Senator Walters has in mind a particular instance on which she is seeking a determination. If that is so, I would be pleased to have details of that and I will see that it is dealt with either through the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service or through the Department of Health. Broadly, I have stated the ways in which assistance is able to be given to people with hearing impairments.

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