Tweed’s Australian Hearing centre at risk of closure
THERE'S a cloud over the future of the Australian Hearing's Tweed Heads facility.
The Tony Abbot government has called for a study into the possible privatisation of the company which has been providing services and products to the hearing impaired in our region for many years.
Hearing Australia's website stated they provided affordable, accessible hearing care services "to many Australians who simply can't afford fully-commercial services".
They include children and the elderly. Australian Hearing is also the only organisation in Australian that trains paediatric audiologists.
The Department of Finance will consider if assessments, fitting of hearing devices, counselling and rehabilitation for the hearing impaired could be better carried out by other providers.
Australian Hearing declined to comment, but local Member for Parliament Justine Elliot, said she planned "to fight" any proposal to privatise Australian Hearing.
Mrs Elliot said the government had not made a strong case for privatisation and failed to address the concerns about risks to quality and access if the services were fragmented, and carried out by other providers.
"Australian Hearing is just too important to privatise," Mrs Elliot said.
"I will fight to ensure that people who are deaf and hard of hearing on the North Coast and across the country get the support and services they deserve."
Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann said privatisation could provide a greater choice of providers and better prices for devices and services.
Mr Cormann said some clients could be eligible for hearing services and devices through the National Disability Insurance Scheme, initiated by the former government.
"The government will engage with stakeholders ... to prepare the hearing industry to offer quality support for its clients," he said.
The government will report back in the second half of this year.