Referral information for health services providers

A guide for who, when and how to refer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients to Hearing Australia. We provide government-funded hearing services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults in urban, regional and remote communities^.

Who are we and what do we do?
We work with health and early childhood services to provide community-based Hearing Assessment Program - Early Ears (HAP-EE) hearing assessments to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children who have not started full-time school. 

For children and adults with ongoing hearing impairment, we provide services in-community and at our centres including:

  • counselling and guidance to support listening and communication

  • regular review of hearing and communication needs

  • selecting, fitting and helping people make good use of hearing devices

  • ongoing clinical care and device repair services

We also provide upskilling and awareness-raising, including through telehealth.

Who and when to refer to Hearing Australia?
 Access the factsheet here 

Ask: ‘Are you having trouble hearing?’

Refer if the answer is ‘yes’.
Many adults will be able to access government funded services, including:

  • Adults over the age of 50 or who are Community Development Program participants

  • Pension card holders (age, disability, single parent)

  • Most Veterans

  • National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants with hearing needs in their plan

Refer children and young adults, from birth to and including 25 years, when:
Priority appointments are provided when:

  • The child/young adult has been diagnosed with permanent hearing loss in one or both ears. This includes sensorineural hearing loss and absent ear canals;

  • The child passed newborn hearing screening, has risk factors (see below) for hearing loss and parent/carer believe their hearing is deteriorating;

  • The child is aged 0-6 years and has PLUM* results that show their listening skills are ‘not yet on track’

Risk factors for childhood hearing loss

  • Family history of permanent hearing loss in childhood

  • Bacterial meningitis

  • Chemotherapy

  • Syndromes related to hearing loss

  • Serious head injury

  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV) during pregnancy

  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) after birth.

*The PLUM and HATS checklists
The PLUM and HATS checklists are new, simple screening tools that health workers and early childhood educators can use to check listening and communication skills development in children aged 5 years and younger. The PLUM and HATS have been validated for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. For more information visit or ask us about these tools.

The HAP-EE Program
The Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAP-EE) is a community-based hearing assessment and referral program for 0-6 year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who have not started full time school. The program includes upskilling for health and early childhood services. HAP-EE programs are established at the invitation of interested communities and/or health or early childhood services in urban, regional and remote locations.
For enquiries about the HAP-EE program, email

Recommendations for good hearing health practice
Hearing loss can be present at birth, but for many children it occurs later in early childhood. To ensure hearing loss is identified and remediated early, please follow these recommendations:

  1. Check baby’s newborn hearing screening results and whether follow up testing took place, if required.

  2. Check baby’s ear health frequently, especially in their first two years: look in ears with an otoscope and check middle ear function with appropriate tympanometry from 2 months of age.

  3. Check baby’s listening and communication skills regularly: from 6 months of age use the PLUM and HATS checklists to guide this conversation.

  4. Use the Otitis Media Guidelines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children (download phone app or use desktop version or appropriate local guidelines.

  5. Referral to Hearing Australia may be made in conjunction with referral to Ear Nose and Throat services.

How to refer?
To refer, or to discuss referral, call us on 131 797 or speak with your visiting Hearing Australia audiologist.

^Conditions apply under the Australian Government Hearing Services Program.