Hearing loss and tinnitus are two of the most common conditions experienced by former Australian Defence Force personnel1. Hearing Australia, which was founded to provide services for returning WWII veterans, is calling on all veterans to take action on their hearing health.
Veterans of all ages may experience hearing loss or tinnitus (a ringing or buzzing sound in the ears), or both conditions due to their exposure to loud noise during military training and service.1 Exposure to loud sounds is the most significant cause of preventable hearing loss in the Australian population2 and left untreated it can significantly impact everyday life, with consequences for an individual’s social and mental wellbeing.3
“The key to better hearing health is to not delay getting help,” says Karen Hirschausen, Principal Audiologist at Hearing Australia. “And the first step is getting a hearing check, to ensure you stay connected to your family, friends and communities. For those who may have concerns about their own hearing or the hearing health of a loved one, a hearing check is an easy first step to identifying any problems and your audiologist will then work with you to find the right solution to suit you.”
Latest research from Hearing Australia has revealed that 25 per cent of Australians surveyed over the age of 50 don’t recall having ever received a hearing test.4 “This is particularly of concern for veterans who may suffer more complex hearing loss issues than the general population”, explains Karen. “Good hearing can play a significant role in helping people stay active, happy and involved in the world around them, so regular hearing checks are advised and should be part of everyone’s regular health checks – especially for veterans.”
Hearing Australia was established in 1947 to provide services for returning WWII veterans and continues to care for veterans and their families today. The organisation currently cares for over 50,000 veterans and their family members, and thanks its clients and all Australian Defence Force personnel, past and present, for their significant contribution to Australia.
Veterans are eligible to receive subsidised hearing services through the Australian Government Hearing Services Program. A number of veterans with complex hearing needs may require specialist hearing services and additional support, which Hearing Australia provides through the Community Service Obligations (CSO) program, funded by the Australian Government. Through the CSO program, Hearing Australia provides subsidised hearing services and devices to children and young adults as well as eligible adults with complex hearing rehabilitation needs, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Hearing Australia client, 79-year-old Uncle Harry Allie, is one of some 72,000 Australians currently receiving help through the CSO program. A proud Gudjala man, Uncle Harry served in the Royal Australian Air Force from 1966 to 1989 and in 2012 he was appointed the first Air Force Indigenous Elder.
“My hearing was slowly declining, and it reached a point where it became an issue for me,” says Uncle Harry. “I couldn’t hear people at committee meetings and my wife would complain I had the TV volume up too loud. That’s what really prompted me to first seek help.
“From the day my hearing aids were fitted, I immediately noticed I no longer had to turn my ear in the right direction or read someone’s lips to have a conversation and I didn’t have to wait for someone to tap me on the shoulder to tell me they were talking to me. There are things you take for granted, particularly in country areas like the sounds of birds and trees. Being able to hear those things and having that connection to nature is important for me.
“The team at Hearing Australia has always worked so well with me to help look after my hearing health and ensure that my hearing aids are working properly for me. We really work closely together to get the best result. At my age, the fact that I can still serve on committees, attend events and enjoy so many other activities in life is wonderful.”
Kim Terrell, Managing Director of Hearing Australia, says: “We have a proud 75-year history of providing services for veterans and we currently care for thousands of veterans and their families around the country, helping them to rediscover the joy of sound and stay in touch with the people and life they love.
“Our team is here to help make hearing easy, with experienced audiologists across 480 locations nationwide, offering services through tele-services, online, in home and at our centres. We encourage all veterans to have a hearing check and take that first step to better hearing.”
Visit the Hearing Australia website at hearing.com.au for more information or call 134 432.
*Conditions apply under the Australian Government Hearing Services Program.
1 . p04129-guide-to-better-hearing.pdf (dva.gov.au)
2. Australian Hearing Causes of hearing loss in Australia. The Hearing Health Industry Report 2017 2. Hearing Health - Know Your Noise (nal.gov.au)
3. The impact of hearing loss on the quality of life of elderly adults, Clinical Interventions in Aging (2012). Ciorba A, Bianchini C, Pelucchi S, Pastore A
4. The ‘Hearing Road Test’ consumer survey was conducted by Pureprofile on behalf of Hearing Australia. The total sample size was 2000 adults aged 50+ years in Australia. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18 February to 22 February 2022 via an online survey. Date of preparation: February 2022.
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