National Seniors has called for a public education campaign about hearing loss which affects at least one in three Australians aged over 70.
In a submission to the Inquiry into the Hearing Health and Wellbeing of Australia, National Seniors said it was crucial to address the preventable causes of hearing loss associated with occupational and recreational activities.
The submission also argued for improved workplace health and safety regulations and guidance to reduce the risk of noise exposure in the workplace.
National Seniors supports current arrangements to subsidise hearing services but said many older people do not qualify for free or subsidised hearing services.
“The significant costs of hearing aids and cochlear implants often leaves seniors with significant out-of-pocket expenses. At worst, it discourages seniors from purchasing hearing aids altogether, even though they may require them,” the submission said.
It recommended eligibility for free or subsidised hearing services be extended and better access for seniors to hearing aid bank services as an alternative to public and private hearing services.
But the submission also pointed to a lack of competition or price transparency in the retail market, with members reporting they often felt pressured into purchasing more expensive hearing aids without any real understanding of the comparative cost benefit of the product being sold.
National Seniors has recommended to the inquiry that increased competition and price transparency be created in the market for hearing aids to make it easier for seniors to make an informed choice.