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Free access to latest hearing technology.



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The Hon Julie Bishop MP Minister for Ageing

Free access to latest hearing technology

30 May 2005

Australians with hearing difficulties will soon have access to the latest hearing device technology free of charge through the Australian Government Hearing Services Program.

30 May 2005 JB068/05

Australians with hearing difficulties will soon have access to the latest hearing device technology free of charge through the Australian Government Hearing Services Program, the Minister for Ageing, Julie Bishop, announced today.

Ms Bishop, who has portfolio responsibility for the program, said a new agreement, to come into effect from 1 October this year, would see hearing device manufacturers supply program clients with much better performing hearing devices.

Manufacturers agreeing to the new arrangements will provide higher minimum specifications in all hearing devices available as ‘free-to-client’, and additional features on ‘behind-the-ear’ devices, including directional microphones and noise suppression. 14 manufacturers have agreed to the arrangements to date.

"This represents a major advance for many Australians living with significant hearing loss," Ms Bishop said.

"Hearing loss is already estimated to be the second most prevalent health condition in Australia, with about one in every five people over the age of 15 years experiencing some sort of hearing impairment."

"The rate of incidence increases as we age, with half of the population between the ages of 60 and 70 years having some degree of hearing loss, a figure which increases to more than 70 per cent for those over 70 years.

"Providing more sophisticated hearing devices will help to overcome people’s disability and improve their quality of life," Ms Bishop said.

The hearing services program provides hearing assessments, prescribing, fitting and provision of free hearing devices, and rehabilitation treatment to eligible pensioners, veterans, and members of the Australian Defence Forces.

The Australian Government is provides almost $200 million each year for the program, which helps around 400,000 people annually.

Information about the program can be found at www.health.gov.au/internet/wcms/Publishing.nsf/Content/Hearing+Services-1 or by contacting the Information Line on 1800 500 726.