1 in 6 Australians suffer from some degree of hearing loss, expected to increase to 1 in 4 by 2050. Hearing loss hurts people in education, employment and social situations, and costs Australia almost $12 billion a year.
A Parliamentary inquiry found in 2009 that hearing health was not a national priority. The Greens want to change that. That's why we're announcing our $368.2 million hearing health plan, to put it on the agenda this Hearing Awareness Week.
We'll extend eligibility for the Australian Government Hearing Services program to all Australians; for free for those who meet a means test, and for a fee for those who don't. This will help 133,000 people on low incomes with free access to hearing services.
We'll invest in early evidence-based language and communication intervention for all children with hearing impairment prior to them starting school, and set up a national database so they can access services everywhere.
There is a hearing health crisis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with hearing loss rates at ten times the national average.
Our $47 million Caring for Aboriginal Hearing plan addresses the crisis in education, by installing sound field systems in classrooms, training teachers posted to indigenous communities, prioritising hearing screenings and follow-up in remote communities, and more.