The Australian Government is considering the privatisation of Australian Hearing.
Australia Hearing has been the sole provider of hearing services for hearing impaired and deaf children since 1947. There are approximately 20,000 hearing impaired and Deaf children and young adults who access services at Australian Hearing’s national network of service locations. The clients range in age from birth to 26 years. Some have multiple disabilities. 11% are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Community advocate organisations warn that the privatisation of this Government agency would have a significant impact on the lives of hearing impaired and deaf children and their families.
Ann Porter AM, founder and chief executive of Aussie Deaf Kids, said: “Australian Hearing offers services to hard of hearing and deaf children in Australia, regardless of location and socio-economic background. Australian Hearing gives them access to high quality technology that optimises their ability to listen and, in turn, to learn.”
“The sale of Australian Hearing would put outcomes for Australian children with hearing loss at risk and could impact on the entire health, education and disability infrastructure that supports them and their families,” Ms Porter said.
Parents of Deaf Children believes a sale could see children fall through the gaps and limit availability of services.
Parents of Deaf Children Coordinator Kate Kennedy said, ““If a new owner was to withdraw services, especially in rural and remote areas, it would have a devastating impact for Australian children with hearing loss.”
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are at risk if the asset is sold. The Indigenous outreach service through which Australian Hearing provides culturally appropriate services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in urban, rural and remote areas is placed at risk by the proposed sale.
Deafness Forum of Australia believes that moving to a commercial arrangement introduces a high degree of uncertainty.
“There is no guarantee there will be providers willing to take on this highly complex work, or they may not have the expertise needed, leaving clients with the greatest need without a reliable service”, said Deafness Forum chairman David Brady.
Children With Disability Australia said that a decision on the future of Australian Hearing should not only be about the financial benefit that may be realised from the sale of a Government asset.
Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Gotlib said: “The decision must be considered in the context of the impact it will have on the lives of highly vulnerable hearing impaired and deaf children and their families and carers.”
Aussie Deaf Kids
Ann Porter AM
02 6684 2571, 0419 495 032
Parents of Deaf Children
02 9871 3049, 0419 628 829
Children With Disability Australia
03 9482 1130
Deafness Forum of Australia
Deafness Forum of Australia
DEAFNESS FORUM OF AUSTRALIA is the national representative of all Australians who have a hearing impairment, a chronic disorder of the ear, are Deaf or deafblind, and the families who support them.
Deafness Forum provides advice to government on strategic policy development and reform on behalf of the one in six Australians whose views we represent.
P: 02 6262 7808
M: 04523 88069