We receive annual funding to deliver the Government's CSO program under a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Health (Health). Over the year, we provided services to 67,387 CSO clients and delivered 1,072 visits to 229 Outreach sites.
Services for babies, children and young people up to age 26
In 2018-19, we provided 70,764 services to 29,827 young Australians under the age of 21. We also provided 9,191 services to 4,091 young adults aged between 21 and 26.
During the year 5,682 remote microphone systems were fitted to children and young adults. Remote microphone systems are used in addition to hearing aids and cochlear implants to overcome the adverse effects of distance, background noise and reverberation. They can be particularly useful in a classroom environment. We also funded 602 speech processors through the cochlear implant speech processor upgrade and replacement program.
Directional microphones in hearing aids have been shown to improve a listener’s ability to understand speech in noisy conditions. This year Hearing Australia introduced new bone conduction hearing aid technology to our range of fully subsidised aids that are worn without an implantable component. The new product provides access to directional microphone technology for those clients who are unable to use conventional air conduction hearing aids due to chronic middle ear disease.
The Paediatric Program Advisory Committee met on three occasions in 2018-19. Members provided advice about ways to improve access to services and continued to provide feedback about information resources that are provided to families and young clients.
Early intervention for paediatric hearing loss is essential to help children achieve the best possible outcomes. In August 2018, Hearing Australia worked with the NDIA to implement a priority pathway for children aged under 7 years, who were newly diagnosed with hearing loss. Over 1,400 children were helped to apply for access to the NDIS through the priority pathway, an initiative which was strongly supported by families, early intervention providers and the NDIA.
Services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young adults
In 2018-19, we saw a total of 4,818 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young adults aged under 26. This represents 17% of the total number of children and young adults who received services during the year.
Analysis of data between 2008 to 2018 revealed a statistically significant reduction in the average age of first hearing aid fitting for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Age of first fitting reflects the pathway from either newborn hearing screening or primary health to Hearing Australia. The proportion of Aboriginal children receiving their first hearing aids before the age of five years has improved from one in ten in 2008 to one in three in 2018.
Refer also to The new Hearing Assessment Program.
Services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults
In 2018-19, 6,026 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult clients were seen, a 11% increase compared with the previous financial year. Over the past four years, this client group has increased by an average of 13% annually. Some 55% of adult clients seen chose to receive hearing services at one of our hearing centres or visiting sites, with 45% accessing services through our Outreach program. We worked closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to provide hearing services in urban, regional and remote locations in Australia, providing an average of some five visits to the 229 communities.
Adults with complex hearing rehabilitation needs
In 2018-19, we provided 65,515 services to 27,150 adults with complex hearing needs. The majority of these adults have a severe or profound hearing loss or poor understanding of speech and require much more than just a well-fitted hearing aid to participate in life. Others have hearing loss plus an additional disability which has an impact upon their communication. Some 76% of adults with complex needs seen for a review were provided with specialised communication assessment and individual training programs, to maximise their communication ability and assist them in continuing to take part in activities they enjoy.