RFDS and Hearing Australia Trial
A research paper entitled “Evaluation of the Royal Flying Doctor service and Australian Hearing Hearing Screening Trial” has been released.
Hearing loss affects some 3.6 million Australians and is predicted to more than double by 2060 in line with Australia’s ageing population. In 2017, hearing loss was estimated to affect one in seven people in Australia, including as many as three out of four people aged over 70 years.
But hearing loss is not just a problem for the older demographic. For every 10,000 live births, between 9 and 12 children have a moderate or greater hearing loss in both ears. Another 23 children per 10,000 will acquire a hearing impairment by the age of 17 years – through accident, illness or other causes.
People living outside major cities (15%) fare the worse and more likely to experience hearing disorders than people living in major cities (12%), with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians disproportionately impacted by poor ear health and hearing problems compared to non-Indigenous Australians. Indigenous children experience an average of 32 months of hearing loss in childhood due to illness, compared with three months hearing loss in non-Indigenous children.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) does not routinely conduct hearing screening in rural and remote Australia, however is committed to identifying appropriate service models to inform the national deployment of a hearing-screening program. To achieve this trials have been completed and with refinement, trials are continuing with the purpose of developing an appropriate service model focused on conducting hearing assessments, raising hearing awareness and facilitating appropriate referrals to formal hearing screening.
In Broken Hill, a second hearing trial has taken place in five regional schools, testing a new hearing screening tool to identify potential hearing loss.