Does the current Outreach program meet hearing-service needs in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations?
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Key findings Of the 77,162 estimated to have a hearing loss, 10,669 (13.8%) received hearing services through the funded program administered by Australian Hearing in 2017-18. Eligibility criteria for Australian Hearing services include children under 26 years of age, and adults over 50 years of age. Of people with hearing loss, 48.3% of eligible children and 11.3% of eligible adults received hearing services in the past year. Extending the program funds would reduce the mismatch between current services and needs. Increased funds directed to the 0-4 year group (current shortfall of 56%) would capitalise on the ‘0-6 years Hearing Assessment Program’ to enable children diagnosed early to receive intervention early so that their language and educational outcomes can be improved. Extending the program eligibility criteria to young adults between 25 and 49 years of age would improve their employment outcomes.