Quick Facts about Hearing Services in Australia
Diagnosing deafness in all ages from newborn to the elderly requires audiological assessment – even when a medical specialist is involved.
Hearing loss seldom exists in isolation – many with hearing loss suffer from falls, tinnitus, social isolation and communication limitations that can impact on learning, development, productivity, social inclusion and earning capacity throughout life.
Audiologists study for a minimum of 5 years at university, two of which are postgraduate study years to understand all aspects of hearing and balance…that is just one year less than it takes study to be a medical doctor. Yet, no comprehensive register of audiologists exists in Australia. Audiologists can choose to belong to professional bodies, but the only sanction those bodies have is to expel them from the membership. Anyone can call themselves an audiologist in Australia. Audiologists can practice without belonging to any professional body. Professional bodies cannot influence business practices of clinics that employ their members.
Hearing aid fitting is not the same as audiology – audiology involves diagnosing and treating all types of hearing and balance disorders of all types (not just loss of hearing, but also disordered perception, hearing unwanted noise, communication difficulty experienced by others – are some examples).The cost of hearing aids is often bundled together with diagnostic testing and rehabilitation but with little accountability of what is being provided and for what cost. Audiologists are often blamed for taking commissions for the sale of hearing devices. Some clinics with links to hearing device companies pay commissions to health funds that lack transparency.