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  • 02 Nov 2018 9:10 AM | IAA CEO (Administrator)

    1 November 2018

    The Federal Court has ordered hearing aid retailers Oticon Australia Pty Ltd (Oticon) and Sonic Innovations Pty Ltd (Sonic) to pay penalties totalling $2.5 million for misleading pensioners through newspaper advertisements for hearing aids sold by AudioClinic and HearingLife clinics.

    Oticon and Sonic admitted that the advertisements contained three false and misleading representations about hearing aids available to pensioners under the Australian Government Hearing Services Program. The misleading representations were that:

    • in order to obtain a free hearing aid pensioners had to book a free hearing test at an AudioClinic or HearingLife hearing clinic before the deadline in the advertisement, where there was no time limit;
    • the free hearing aids included wireless technology that would allow users to connect them to digital devices like televisions and mobile phones, when in fact these were additional accessories which were sold separately at an extra cost; and
    • any user of the advertised hearing aid would no longer miss any conversations, when in fact this may depend on a person’s individual circumstances and the nature of his or her hearing impairment.

    “Many of the pensioners targeted by the advertisements were vulnerable due to their age and hearing loss. The misleading representations by Sonic and Oticon created a false sense of urgency for these consumers to book a hearing test and led them into a sales process based on incorrect information,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

    “This conduct is unacceptable particularly because it targeted vulnerable pensioners. The decision from the Federal Court sends a strong message to the hearing aid industry about the importance of ensuring all representations to consumers are accurate and not misleading.”

    In addition to paying penalties of $2.5 million, the Court ordered by consent that Sonic and Oticon offer refunds to customers who purchased ConnectLine and SoundGate3 accessories, publish a corrective notice in a nationally circulated newspaper, and establish an Australian Consumer Law compliance program.

    Background

    The ACCC instituted proceedings against Sonic and Oticon on 6 September 2018: ACCC takes action against hearing aid retailers for misleading pensioners.

    Oticon and Sonic, owned and operated by William Demant Holding A/S, operate over 200 hearing clinics across Australia, including under the AudioClinic, HearingLife, Western Hearing Services, and Adelaide Digital Hearing Solutions brands.

    The misleading ads were published on 85 occasions in newspapers around Australia from June to November 2017 under the AudioClinic and HearingLife brands. Oticon and Sonic sold more than 10 000 of the advertised Oticon Ria2 and Sonic Cheer20 hearing aids.

    Australian Government Hearing Services Program

    Around 80 per cent of hearing aids supplied in Australia are provided under the Australian Government Hearing Services Program (the Hearing Program).

    The Hearing Program provides access to subsidised hearing services and devices to eligible persons, such as pensioner concession card holders, veterans, and defence force personnel. Vouchers can be used to obtain fully-subsidised hearing devices, or to cover some of the cost of partially-subsided hearing devices, with the consumer paying the remainder of the cost directly to hearing clinics.

    The Hearing Program is administered by the Department of Health. Around 300 providers, including Oticon and Sonic, are accredited by the Department of Health to provide hearing devices to voucher holders under the Hearing Program.

    Release number: 

    220/18

  • 29 Oct 2018 12:42 PM | IAA CEO (Administrator)

    Federal Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health, The Hon Ken Wyatt has handpicked a "hearing sector committee" whom he has tasked with producing a roadmap for hearing health.  The process is funded by government and the Minister had complete discretion in selecting members of the committee, but the final document is described as a 'sector' document that will be used to justify budgetary appeals and so on across governments.

    IAA participated in a stakeholder meeting, along with some other groups.

    The documentation from the stakeholder meeting can be downloaded here.

  • 06 Aug 2018 12:20 PM | IAA SME Manager (Administrator)

    In 2018 Independent Audiologists Australia was pleased to be able to offer the Dr Judith Boswell Scholarship for the first time. 

    We are pleased to announce that Flinder University Master of Audiology student Sally Jane Walz was the inaugural winner of the Dr Judith Boswell Scholarship (2018). 


    You can read Sally's reflection on her remote clinical placement here.

    About Dr Judith Boswell

    Dr Judith Boswell was a pioneering audiologist who was a long-standing member of Independent Audiologists Australia (IAA) and who had close ties to Flinders University. Judith operated her own audiology practice in the Adelaide area for many years, whilst at the same time continuing to work in remote Aboriginal communities to provide hearing services in appropriate and culturally sensitive ways. 

    Over the course of her career, Judith gained an extensive specialist knowledge of working with remote communities, which she was generous in sharing with colleagues. Judith passed away in 2017, after a long illness.

    What is the Dr Judith Boswell Scholarship?

    Independent Audiologists Australia is offering a scholarship to a student at Flinders University to the value of $500.00 to help gain clinical experience in remote and regional Australia. This scholarship honours the work and commitment Judith showed for audiological services to remote and indigenous communities. The scholarship was first awarded in 2018 and it is anticipated that the scholarship will be offered on a yearly basis.


  • 26 Jun 2018 7:56 AM | IAA CEO (Administrator)
    Broadcast:Thursday 21 June 2018 5:30PM


    One in six Australians is affected by hearing loss. With an ageing population, this is expected to increase to one in four by 2050.

    There's a high personal and economic cost associated with hearing loss in Australia which is estimated to total $33 billion annually.

    A significant proportion of hearing loss is preventable and experts are warning that we should turn down our devices and reduce the amount of time spent listening with earphones to avoid permanent damage.

    Guests

    Professor David McAlpine, Director of Hearing Research, Australian Hearing Hub, Macquarie University. ARC Australian Laureate Fellow

    Lynne Pezzullo, Lead Partner, Health Economics and Social Policy, Deloitte Access Economics

    Karina Bray, Senior Content Producer in health at Choice

    Victor de Andrade, Audiologist and Senior Lecturer, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa


  • 06 Jun 2018 9:28 AM | IAA CEO (Administrator)

    IAA Vice President Myriam Westcott is features in this article published in the May edition of The Monthly entitled When Sound Becomes Pain.  

    Myriam is well known for her work in Tinnitus, Misophonia and Hyperacusis.

    https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2018/may/1525096800/kate-cole-adams/when-sound-becomes-pain 



  • 06 Jun 2018 9:00 AM | IAA CEO (Administrator)

    Longstanding IAA Members Peter Cichello and Tony Crittenden were recognised by Audiology Australia this year for their services to the profession.

    Congratulations to both Peter and Tony.


  • 25 Feb 2018 3:07 PM | IAA CEO (Administrator)

  • 15 Dec 2017 11:50 AM | IAA CEO (Administrator)

    IAA's annual report for the period ending 30 June 2017 is now available.

    Access the report here.

  • 13 Sep 2017 5:52 PM | IAA CEO (Administrator)

    Trent Zimmerman MP tabled the report resulting form the inquiry into the hearing health and wellbeing of Australians in parliament today.

    The report lists 22 recommendations, including some key recommendations:

    Recommendation 13: that the professions of audiology and audiometry be regulated under AHPRA

    Recommendation 14: that children 0 - 5 yrs  receive services at Australian Hearing

    Recommendation 16: that universal screening at school be coupled with a bulk billed direct access to a paediatric audiologist

    Recommendation 22: that hearing loss be made a national health priorit

    You can access the full report from the Committee's homepage.

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