Recent Federal Government funding investments in hearing loss will provide much-needed support for children and adults who are deaf or hard of hearing and open new possibilities for the way education and services are delivered to people with sensory disability, NextSense CEO Chris Rehn said today.
This week’s Budget confirms that $12.5 million earmarked in the May 2022 Budget for the NextSense best practice innovation centre being built at Macquarie University will remain as an important Federal Government commitment.
And last week’s announcement that $7.5 million in National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding will be devoted to improving wellbeing for those with hearing loss—including $1.4million for a national child hearing database—is a significant step forward.
‘The renewed Federal commitment to our new innovation centre will really change the game for people with hearing loss and vision loss,’ Mr Rehn said.
“We’re delighted the new Government has recognised and acknowledged importance of this state-of-the-art, purpose-built facility, which is an internationally significant investment in Australia’s social infrastructure. It will enhance our ability to deliver leading allied health and clinical services to people of all ages, it will serve as a beacon of best practice for 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.
‘We’re also pleased and excited that two of our leading academics are part of a team of Chief Investigators in an important NHMRC research project funded last week to create a prototype Child Hearing Health Outcomes Registry for Australia. This is a step towards a national child hearing database that will improve outcomes for children who are deaf or hard of hearing by expanding research knowledge.
‘Australia leads the world in many respects when it comes to support for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. But we need to leverage this momentum and join up the data we have. Tracking outcomes for children with hearing loss is a key part of the puzzle.’
The NHMRC funded project is a broad collaboration being led by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) and includes leading NextSense/Macquarie University researchers Professor Greg Leigh (Director of NextSense Institute), and Professor Teresa Ching. They will join research colleagues from MCRI, the Children's Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service, the University of Newcastle, Macquarie University, University of Manchester, Hearing Australia, and the University of Melbourne..
The prototype Child Hearing health Outcomes Registry (CHOR) will be established in Queensland and Victoria and will include all deaf or hard-of-hearing young people under the age of 18. It will then make recommendations on a possible national application and whether a whole-of-population data system is possible.
This is designed to build on the success of Australia’s highly regarded national newborn hearing screening program, and advance progress towards national standards and data management.
It addresses a number of recommendations made in the 2019 Roadmap for Hearing Health: a national child evidence base for future hearing policies, service delivery models and supports; a mechanism for improved models of service delivery and equity of access; a pathway to national reporting for educational outcomes; and a national platform to facilitate population-based research for deaf and hear of hearing children.
The project is one of nine newly funded research projects worth a total of $7.5 million and designed help prevent hearing loss and improve the health and wellbeing of those who experience it.