Hearing week calls for community inclusion

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ONE in six Australians (3.5 million people) are either deaf, hearing impaired or living with a chronic ear disorder, which is why Hearing Awareness Week annually raises national awareness around hearing impairments and ways to protect hearing.

This year Hearing Awareness Week will be held from Sunday, March 3, to Saturday, March 9, and throughout the week organisers are asking the community to give people with a hearing impairment a fair go.

“There are more possibilities than ever before to be included in all aspects of community and business life,” says a Hearing Awareness Week spokesperson.  

“What is needed now is for the rest of the community to catch up and take the opportunity to give people with a hearing loss a fair go.  

“Employers have more support than ever to make their workplace inclusive and accessible for Australians with a hearing loss.

“Australians with a hearing loss are ready and willing – the challenge is to the community to be inclusive.”

ACT Deafness Resource Centre’s CEO Glenn Vermeulen

Expo brings experts under one roof

THE ACT Deafness Resource Centre’s Health and Hearing Expo on Thursday, March 7, is a great opportunity for people to talk to various hearing-loss experts at the one venue, says CEO Glenn Vermeulen.

Glenn says everyone is invited to the event, which begins at 10am at the Hellenic Club in Woden.

“We invite the deaf and hearing impaired, their families, friends and carers to take advantage of meeting with the hearing industry under the one roof on the day,” he says.

“A number of community organisations will also be present for you to meet.

“We will have a special guest speaker from Phonak to talk about their state-of-the-art Roger Pen and peripheral devices, which we know will be of special interest.”

Whether someone has a Cochlear implant, a hearing aid, needs personal advice or cares for someone with a hearing loss, Glenn says this is the event for them.

“While visitors are there they can take the opportunity to chat with a host of community organisations as well,” he says.

“And importantly, Australian Hearing will be there too, providing free hearing screening tests.

“To take advantage of this free service you must book first directly with Australian Hearing on 6232 3200.”

Glenn says ample parking is available at the Hellenic Club on a first come, first served basis.

“It’s free to members of the club and at a reasonable rate to others,” he says.

ACT Deafness Resource Centre’s Hearing and Health Expo, the Hellenic Club, Woden, 10am-3pm, Thursday, March 7.

ACT Better Hearing Australia chairman Bill Leane

Charity prioritises ‘better hearing’ help

CANBERRA has a significant hearing-loss problem, according to Bill Leane, chairman of the ACT branch of Better Hearing Australia.

He says 25 per cent of Canberrans are more than 55 years old and, of these people, 60 per cent would benefit from a hearing device – that’s 60,000 people.

“Ten thousand people have and regularly use a hearing device [and] 50,000 Canberrans and their families tolerate and accommodate life with a frustrating and debilitating hearing deficiency,” Bill says.

“Many of the frustrated 50,000 Canberrans also experience a second or third disability.

“In these cases, hearing loss is pushed lower in the priority for treatment.”

Bill says Better Hearing Australia is a charity with the mission to bring information, education, skills and proven management packages to anyone coping unnecessarily with the debilitating effects of progressive hearing loss such as isolation, loneliness, withdrawal and depression.

“Better Hearing Australia is here to help before, during and after the acquisition of hearing loss,” he says.

“We have a free outreach program through social and traditional media.

“We conduct workshops on strategies of how family networks and clients can help manage hearing-loss journeys, within their own resources and with access to public support.

“We offer coaching and mentoring for clients and network leaders.

“[And] we operate three weekly hearing-loss management classes in Canberra, with a class complement of about 12 per class.”

Better Hearing Australia, COTA Building, 2 Wisdom Street, Hughes. Visit bhacanberra.org or call 6281 3962.


Dianne McGowan’s life changed after her cochlear implant was switched on

Charity gives Dianne the gift of hearing

DIANNE McGowan struggled with a hearing impairment from birth, so when her cochlear implant was switched on as an adult she says it was “simply wonderful”.

Audiologist Janet Kenyon, who works with the SCIC Cochlear Implant Program, a Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children service based in Canberra, taught Dianne to hear again.

“Getting the implant really has been the best thing I have ever done for myself,” Dianne says.

“It has made such a huge difference to my life, both in my work and at home.

“I can contribute in work meetings and social discussions like I never could before. It’s really changed everything.”

According to the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children, the SCIC Cochlear Implant Program completed 404 cochlear implant surgeries and provided ongoing holistic care to thousands of Australians with hearing loss.

Janet says RIDBC is an important charity because Cochlear implants help people become more aware of environmental sounds, which can be important for a person’s safety, too.

“If someone has a hearing aid but still struggles in a crowded place, then an implant might be suitable for them,” she says.

“Cochlear implants are suited for people with severe or moderate and varying degrees of hearing loss.” 

SCIC Cochlear Implant Program, Equinox Business Park, Equinox 4, Level 1, 70 Kent Street, Deakin. Call 6124 1501, email canberraadmin@scic.org.au or visit ridbc.org.au

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