Australia’s leading non-government provider of services to people with hearing and vision loss has welcomed Tuesday’s Budget contribution of $12.5 million towards its new innovation centre at Macquarie University.
“This $75 million project will have a major impact on future opportunities for Australians who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or have low vision and it is incredibly gratifying to see this recognised through such a significant Federal Government funding contribution,” NextSense Chief Executive Chris Rehn said.
“Our purpose-built, state-of-the art exemplar facility will be an internationally significant investment in Australia’s social infrastructure. It will enhance our ability to deliver best-practice allied health and clinical services to people of all ages, it will serve as an ‘innovation incubator’ to deliver new models of school education for children with hearing and vision loss, and it will allow us to make further gains in research and postgraduate education. This will ensure the next generation of professionals and educators working in hearing and vision loss have the skills they need to address the growing demand for services.”
The new centre of excellence will also be a major physical infrastructure investment and an important economic stimulus for the local economy.
It will cement existing collaborative work underway through the Australian Hearing Hub partnership at Macquarie University. As a world leader in hearing research, service delivery and technology, Australia is already at the forefront of innovation. Strengthening these existing partnerships and co-locating with a cluster of research, education, audiology and healthcare providers will give us the best chance possible of new thinking to eliminate barriers for those experiencing sensory disability and achieving a more inclusive society.
“Our goal is to help set children and families up for the future, help more adults and elderly people remain active and independent as they age, and make sure that all Australians with hearing and vision loss stay connected to services and support regardless of where they live,” Mr Rehn said.
“From this central location we will be able to support an extensive network of permanent centres, outreach sites and telepractice services right across Australia, growing beyond the 10,000 people we already work with each year to meet increasing community need.”
- The financial costs of hearing and vision loss in Australia are estimated at $20 billion and $16 billion respectively, not including the social and personal costs to individuals and their families.
- There are about 3.6 million Australians with hearing loss and about 500,000 with vision loss. These numbers are expected to increase in coming decades. For example, the number of people with hearing loss is predicted to double by 2060.
- Untreated age-related hearing loss is a key risk factor for dementia and is associated with risk of falls, hospitalisation, depression and early mortality
- Early intervention for children with hearing and vision loss means they can achieve educational outcomes at the same level as their peers
- Access to specialised hearing and vision services in person or via telehealth is critical for children in developing language and literacy skills that will help shape their future.