It has been a dynamic and highly productive year with significant achievements to deliver even more value to our clients, the government and the communities we serve. 2018-19 saw us provide a record 586,875 services to Australians of all ages across our vast country.
As Chair of the Board of Directors of Hearing Australia, I am pleased to report a milestone year for our organisation. We cared for over 274,000 Australians, more than ever before, and were instrumental in driving beneficial change across the industry, especially emphasising the prevention of hearing loss.
Our change of brand and trading name to Hearing Australia was driven by listening to our clients and understanding their need to have more services tailored to their individual needs, making the best use of technology. This change builds on our legacy of 72 years of helping people with hearing loss and their families to improve their quality of life and stay connected to the life, people and the sounds of Australia they love. It recommits us to help more and more Australians, to pursue growth opportunities and to strengthen our industry partnerships.
Hearing Australia reaches diverse communities across the country. Whether in remote Northern Territory, the Torres Strait Islands, urban communities, capital cities or regional centres, I always enjoy meeting our dedicated staff and seeing their positive impact.
Some 3.6 million Australians have hearing loss, and that number is expected to double by 2060. We know that a large amount of hearing loss can be prevented, so we’ve placed a greater focus on reducing the incidence of preventable hearing loss for all Australians.
Hearing Australia received a $28 million government grant to establish the Hearing Assessment Program, which we have called Early Ears, to deliver hearing services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged zero to six years. This will have a significant impact on our efforts to reduce the amount of hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who experience preventable hearing loss at unacceptably high rates. In addition, our highly skilled and dedicated audiologists travelled to urban, rural and remote parts of Australia to help improve the hearing health and wellbeing of more than 11,081 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Our research division, the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL), continues to play a vital role in leading and implementing innovative research, including the prevention of avoidable hearing loss.
We have been pleased to be able to contribute our expertise to support our partners who have the responsibility to deliver the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Working with the National Disability Insurance Agency, we have provided prompt access to the NDIS and intervention services for families with children who need hearing help.
I welcome the appointment of the Hon Stuart Robert MP as Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Minister for Government Services, and look forward to working closely with him to continue the outstanding work of Hearing Australia.
On behalf of the Board, I wish to express our appreciation to our former Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation, the Hon Michael Keenan MP, for his support and encouragement of our quest to continuously improve outcomes.
Special thanks also to our many partners, including NGO’s and peak organisations, in government, and the public sector with whom we work every day to deliver services and transform the lives and wellbeing of so many Australians.
On behalf of the Board, I congratulate Hearing Australia’s management team and staff for our many achievements this year. This is a credit to the leadership of Mr Kim Terrell who was appointed permanent Managing Director in September 2018. The staff of Hearing Australia really do change people’s lives for the better and I thank them for the passion they bring to their roles every day.
And finally, I want to thank the Board of Hearing Australia for their contribution over the past year. The changes to our brand, commitment to hearing loss prevention and delivering better client outcomes will benefit our clients and partners and position the organisation for even greater success.
Dr Peta Seaton AM