About our campaign
Break the Sound Barrier is a movement that aims to make sure people with a hearing health issue are included and listened to by all levels of government.
The first step towards this is to make hearing health and well-being a national health priority.
With one in six Australians affected, there are over 4 million Australians who would benefit with this.
This will unlock more funding for services, more investment in research and better community education.
The campaign is uniting people who are Deaf or have hearing loss or ear/balance disorders, service providers and health professionals to demand we be heard.
We need them to support our plan to:
Hearing checks for all Australian children at key stages of life
Australia has one of the world’s best hearing screening programs for newborns, however more needs to be done to stop children falling through the gaps as they develop. Poor hearing can affect a child’s speech development, learning, happiness and interaction with the world around them.
Access to hearing checks should be provided at critical stages of a child’s development, such as before starting primary school and before entering high school. Regular hearing screening for all school children is absolutely critical to making sure every Australian child has the best start in life, and a chance to realise their potential as they grow.
A national hearing awareness promotion campaign
One in six Australians – or nearly 4 million people – are affected by hearing loss or chronic ear disorders, with rates particularly high among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. By 2050 that number will grow to one in every four Australians.
Hearing loss has been linked to risks of depression, dementia, blood pressure, heart disease and other serious health problems. If it’s not addressed it can impact on the ability of many Australians to work to their potential. It’s also costing the nation $11 billion a year in lost productivity, plus costs to our health system and the cost of informal careers.
We need a high profile national hearing awareness campaign to encourage people to take better care of their hearing, to promote early detection and early treatment, and to make Australia a more inclusive place for people who are deaf or have hearing loss.
Improved accessibility for Auslan
Deaf people who communicate with Australian Sign Language (Auslan) need to be able to access interpreters in all parts of their lives – at home, at school, at work and in the community. Right now Auslan interpreters are only funded to provide support at medical appointments or in the workplace.
We want deaf people to be fully involved in their community and the world around them. To do this we need to provide more access to qualified sign language interpreters, make it easier for families to communicate in Auslan at home and in the community, and raise awareness about how important access to Auslan services is for deaf Australians and their families.
Universal access to hearing health checks every five years for people over 50.
Too often, hearing loss goes undetected or is dismissed as just a sign of ageing when treatment and hearing solutions are available. And because the world has become noisier more people have suffered irreversible damage to their hearing.
Undetected hearing loss is leaving many middle aged and older Australians unable to work or forcing them to drop out of their favourite social and community activities. This can lead to financial stress, isolation and poor mental health. Early detection through regular hearing health checks will help ensure all Australians receive the support they need to continue living healthy and full lives as they age.
Australians around the age of 50 are encouraged by public health initiatives to undergo a series of health checks. It’s time to include hearing in these checks too.
Make hearing devices tax deductible.
Nearly half of the population with hearing loss is of working age. Hearing aids and other hearing devices are absolutely essential for thousands of Australians to be able to work but many can’t afford them. As a result some people can’t get job promotions or continue in their current jobs.
In the workplace, hearing devices are productivity tools and communication devices so it makes no sense that they aren’t tax deductable like phones, calculators and computers. By making hearing devices and their batteries tax deductable the national economy will benefit from better workforce participation and keeping people in the workforce longer.
Don’t let children fall through the gaps with changes to the way hearing services will be delivered in Australia.
Children who are Deaf or have hearing loss and their families are among those most at risk from plans to transfer the responsibility for delivering their services from the Australian Government Hearing Services Program to the the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Under the NDIS there will be a choice of service provider for the first time. Personal choice is a concept we would all support, however it is concerning in this instance because the private market is untested in the delivery of services to children with hearing loss. The introduction of contestability introduces significant risks that must be understood and managed in terms of access, expertise, quality, standards and client outcomes.
The Government should ensure an expert panel has proper representation of the people who will be most affected by these changes to advise it on the risks and the ways to minimise them.