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Media Release

Ensuring a Strong and Viable Future for Australian Hearing in a Contestable NDIS Market

MC 4/16

Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance

12 February 2016

The Government has been approached by a consortium led by the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children, alongside Cochlear Limited and Macquarie University, with a proposal for the transfer of Australian Hearing into non-government ownership. 

Australian Hearing provides important and valued services to Australians with a hearing loss, in particular children, older Australians, indigenous Australians and veterans. 

Over the past two years, the Government has been working with relevant stakeholders to ensure Australian Hearing has a strong and viable future in the context of a contestable National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) market. 

When establishing the NDIS, the previous Labor government made a decision, since re-affirmed by our government, to make funding for relevant services provided under the NDIS in the future fully contestable. 

This means that Australian Hearing will have to compete with other private providers in relation to all the services it provides to Australians with a hearing impairment. 

While Australian Hearing has already been competing with private providers in relation to a range of services for some time, as the NDIS roll out ramps up this competition will increase further and intensify. 

That’s why the Government has been exploring the right future ownership options for Australian Hearing to ensure it has the strongest possible future and continues to be in the best possible position to provide high quality valued services to Australians with a hearing loss.

The Government will formally examine the proposal put forward by the consortium led by the not-for-profit organisation, the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children. This will include further work with the consortium on the possible terms and conditions for any ownership transfer should the government decide to proceed with that approach. 

As the Government goes through this assessment process with the consortium it is important to note that: 

  • The Government has not yet made a decision to transfer Australian Hearing into non-government ownership. 
  • People with a hearing loss who currently receive (or are eligible to receive) Community Service Obligation services will continue to receive those services, either as NDIS participants or clients of the Hearing Services Programme.  
  • Children under the age of 26 with a hearing loss who currently receive (or are eligible to receive) Community Service Obligation services will continue to receive those services, either as NDIS participants or clients of the Hearing Services Programme.  
  • There is absolutely no intention to change any of the current eligibility criteria or public benefits currently available for Australians with a hearing loss. 

At the completion of this formal assessment process a recommendation on the best way forward will be considered by the Government.

[ENDS]

Media Contact(s): 

Karen Wu - 0428 350 139