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The Government has begun a major review of the Hearing Services Program (HSP). The aim of the HSP is to reduce the incidence and consequences of avoidable hearing loss in the Australian community by providing access to high quality hearing services and devices. The HSP has two parts:–

  1. The Voucher Scheme provides free hearing aids to people who have a Pensioner Concession Card, a Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card or a White Card (for hearing specific conditions), a dependent or a member of the Australian Defence Force and who have a hearing loss over a set threshold.
  2. The Community Services Obligations Scheme (CSO) is for special needs groups, including children, Indigenous Australians and adults with complex hearing needs.

The review will be completed in July 2021. It will focus on:

  • whether it delivers services aligned with clinical need and contemporary service delivery
  • how the Voucher and device maintenance payment system compares with advances in the manufacturing sector and product offering
  • how technology is changing the provision of services through the HSP
  • how HSP services are currently delivered and whether access can be enhanced for vulnerable Australians and in thin markets, such as regional, rural and remote areas.

Deafness Forum chair David Brady said, “It will be a roots and branches examination of the centre-piece of public hearing health and ear care in Australia.

“It is a huge and enormously important program with more than one million consumers holding an active voucher; and some of our most vulnerable citizens benefiting from the CSO program component.”

The HSP represents a majority share (about 70%) of the Australian hearing services market. This review will challenge the current business models and profitability of device manufacturers and of the nearly 300 clinics that are registered providers to the HSP.

The Government commissioned Deafness Forum to assist its members and others to contribute the views of the users of the HSP throughout the term of the review. We invite you to contact us if you would like to be involved.

“For our organisation and its members and friends, it’s among the most important bodies of work that we will engage in during 2020 and 2021,” David Brady said.

Further reading

Report in Sep 2017 by Price Waterhouse Coopers, commissioned by Department of Health

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