Are you eligible for a government rebate?
Hearing Services Program
The Australian Government formally established the ‘voucher’ system in 1997, when The Australian Hearing Services Administration Act came into effect. This enabled eligible people to gain access to hearing services.
You may be eligible to receive fully subsidised hearing services if you fall in to any of the following categories:
- Senior Australian holding a Pensioner Concession card
- receiving a Sickness Allowance from Centrelink
- Department of Veteran’s Affairs
- Gold card holder
- White card holder
- a dependent person of either above category
- Australian Defence Force member
- referred by Disability Employment Services Program
- a participant in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
There are other groups of people eligible to receive fully subsidised hearing services through what is known as the Community Service Obligations (CSO) of the Hearing Services Program. Hearing Australia is the only hearing service provider who can provide hearing care under the CSO program. You may be eligible to receive hearing services through this program if you are:
- a person from the above group who:
- has complex hearing or communication needs, or
- lives in a remote area
- an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person who is:
- over 50 years of age or
- a participant in the Community Development Program and the Community Development Employment Projects
- under 26 years of age if:
- you are an Australian citizen, or
- you are a permanent resident of Australia, or
- you are a young NDIS participant
You can check your eligibility on the Hearing Services Program website.
How do I access services if I meet the criteria?
If you think you’re eligible to receive subsidised hearing services you’ll need to apply for a voucher. You can apply:
- online; or
- phone the Hearing Services Program on 1800 500 726 for an application to be mailed to you
Once you have applied and deemed eligible, you’ll receive a Welcome Pack that will include information on the program and a list of hearing service providers in your area. You will need a medical certificate from your GP to take with you to your chosen provider. This is a requirement so the provider can claim for services provided to you.
Under the Hearing Services Program, you can expect the following:
- a number of tests to assess the status of your hearing and if a hearing device will be of assistance to you
- a full subsidised or partially-subsidised hearing aid (make sure you know what you are being offered and if you are required to pay any money)
- follow up appointments to ensure your hearing aid is working properly and you are receiving appropriate benefit from it
- you may be asked to enter into a maintenance agreement which is a small fee that covers maintenance and batteries for your chosen hearing aid
People with a hearing impairment, in the better ear, of greater than 90 decibels, meet the disability requirements in Section 24 of the NDIS ACT, and can apply for funding through the NDIS. There are other hearing loss categories that can also access NDIS services. To apply for NDIS access, the person must demonstrate they have reduced functional capacity in one of more of these categories: communication, social interaction, learning, mobility, self-care or self-management. If you are 26 years or older with hearing loss, and fall into one of the following categories, you may be eligible to receive assistance from the NDIS:
- Permanent hearing impairment of greater than 90 decibels in the better ear (pure tone average of 500Hz, 1000Hz, 2000Hz and 4000Hz).
- Permanent hearing impairment of greater than 65 decibels in the better ear, but must provide evidence of substantially reduced functional capacity.
- Hearing impairment of less than 65 decibels in the better ear and who also have another disability may be eligible (and may need to provide evidence of substantially reduced functional capacity).
- People who have problems with speaking and listening may also be eligible to receive services (and may need to provide evidence of substantially reduced functional capacity).
You can’t be discriminated against in your workplace or when gaining employment if you have a hearing loss unless your hearing impairment means you can’t perform the essential requirements of job-related tasks, after reasonable adjustments have been made. ‘Reasonable adjustment’ could be anything from providing assistive listening devices in the workplace (loop systems, volume control phone, remote microphone, vibrating alarm systems), training other staff in communication tactics when working with someone who has a hearing loss and modifying the workspace to provide a quieter working environment.
If you work in a noisy environment with noise greater than 85dB, your workplace is required to provide you with appropriate hearing protection and bi-annual hearing tests to monitor your hearing levels. If you have a recorded permanent hearing loss and reported tinnitus, caused by workplace noise, then you have a right to claim compensation for your loss of hearing. The compensation could include not only a sum of money, but the provision of hearing devices and rehabilitation treatment for your hearing loss and tinnitus.