Last night ABC’s 7.30 program aired a report about the possible privatisation of Australian Hearing. The report highlighted the issues associated with a move by the federal government including putting profits of hearing aid companies ahead of the health and welfare of those with hearing loss.
We have been in consultation with the government throughout this year and provided our concerns and recommendations to them. Our concerns around a move to privatise Australian Hearing include the following:
- It is critical that any audiologist working with children is highly qualified, has specialised training for paediatric work and operates from a clinic that is set up with specific paediatric audiology facilities.
- No audiologist working with children should receive commissions on the products they sell or recommend.
- The Shepherd Centre strongly supports that if the Government privatises Australian Hearing that they put in place these protections to ensure that the welfare of children with hearing loss is put before profit.
In Australia, Australian Hearing is a key player in the clinical pathway for providing hearing services to children. Privatisation of Australian Hearing puts the successful delivery of these services at risk.
The vast majority of the children who attend or have attended The Shepherd Centre have come through Australian Hearing and all of those who are Australian citizens receive very generous support for testing and hearing devices. Australian Hearing is an important step in their pathway to helping them learn to listen and speak. Our goal at The Shepherd Centre is to set them up with the best possible start in life – particularly before they head off to school – and we rely on a pathway that helps facilitate this by putting children before profits.
We strongly advise families to visit their family GP for a referral to a paediatric audiologist if they have any concerns about their child’s hearing.