New referral information for health services providers

A guide for who, when and how to refer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients to Australian Hearing.

Who are we and what do we do?

Australian Hearing audiologists provide long-term support to children and adults with hearing loss to help them hear and communicate to the best of their ability. We fit hearing aids and other devices, provide communication skills counselling and introduce clients to other hearing support services. Hearing aids are free to all children and adults under 26 years of age and eligible adults, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults over the age of 50. As an option, we also supply batteries, maintenance and repair services for a low annual fee. We deliver services through the Hearing Services Program.
Who and when to refer to Australian Hearing?
Ask adults, ‘Are you having trouble hearing?’ If the answer is ‘yes’ and they are eligible for the Hearing Services Program, please refer.
The Hearing Services Program covers:
  • Children and young adults under the age of 26 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults who are over the age of 50 or are Community Development Program participants
  • Pension card holders (age, disability, single parent)
  • Most veterans
  • NDIS participants with hearing needs in their plan
Refer children and young adults, from birth to and including 25 years, when:
  • a child is found to have hearing loss through newborn hearing screening, sensorineural hearing loss in one or both ears or no ear canal in one or both ears.
  • there are risk factors for childhood hearing loss. These include: family history of permanent hearing loss in childhood; bacterial meningitis; chemotherapy; syndromes related to hearing loss; serious head injury; either cytomegalovirus (CMV) during pregnancy or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) after birth, and family believe hearing is deteriorating.
  • a child aged under three years is diagnosed with bilateral chronic suppurative otitis media.
  • a child has middle ear disease and hearing that is, on average, greater than 30dBHL in the better ear lasting more than three months.
  • there is a high level of family concern: they think their child may need hearing aids or has a speech, language or developmental delay.
How to refer?
To refer, or to discuss referral, call us on 131 797 or speak with your visiting audiologist.
Practical steps you can take to monitor children’s hearing health in the primary health setting
  1. Check whether babies had their hearing screened at birth and what the results were.
  2. Hearing loss can happen at any time. Remember to regularly ask about children’s hearing. As a guide, children with no hearing problems are able to do these things by the time they are 12 months old, most of the time:
    • Respond to their name when they are called
    • Recognise familiar people’s voices without seeing the person talking
    • Respond to sounds in their environment, eg: cars, birds.
  3. At the minimum, do hearing health checks at immunisations: always examine ears with an otoscope, then add tympanometry from six months of age, and check hearing from 3.5 years. Ear trouble can start soon after birth, is often invisible and can become chronic if not detected and treated.
  4. Refer to the Otitis Media Guidelines for help with diagnosis, advice, treatment and referral.  

The guide for Who, When and How to Refer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Clients to Australian Hearing is available for download in one of two designs here and here.