For children 0-6 years
A special pathway has been implemented for children, aged 0 - 6 years, with newly diagnosed hearing loss.
How do I access hearing supports when I have a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan?
NDIS participants with a permanent hearing impairment may receive funding for assistive technology (AT) in their NDIS plan in addition to receiving hearing devices under the Commonwealth Government's Hearing Services Program (external) (External website) (HSP). Hearing devices provided under the HSP are fully subsidised, meaning there is no cost.
As an NDIS participant also accessing support through the HSP, you have the option of entering into a maintenance agreement with your hearing provider which covers the maintenance of your hearing device and the cost of batteries. The annual fee for the maintenance agreement would be funded in your NDIS plan.
All requests for AT supports are considered on an individual basis and may be funded under the NDIS where the support is considered "reasonable and necessary" for the participant. Examples of AT supports include specialised alerting systems (vibrating/ flash smoke alarm), wireless streaming devices (for the TV, phone or remote microphone), remote controls, Cochlear Implant speech processor accessories (including aqua accessories) and speech processor upgrades.
What are the types of Hearing Services funded under the HSP?
Under the HSP, participants receive high-quality hearing services and devices at no cost. The HSP has two components, one is called the Community Service Obligation (CSO) and the other is the Voucher Program. Until mid-2020, the usual arrangements for the CSO and Voucher components of the HSP will also apply to NDIS participants.
What is the difference between the Community Service Obligation (CSO) and Voucher Program components of the HSP?
The CSO component of the HSP funds fully subsidised hearing services and devices to:
- NDIS participants under 26 years of age with a hearing impairment;
- NDIS participants 26 years of age and over who have complex communication needs such as a profound (>90 decibels) hearing impairment, significant visual impairment in addition to a hearing impairment or other disabilities that heighten communication difficulties; this is also referred to as Specialist Hearing Services (external) (External website).
Australian Hearing is the sole provider for hearing services under the CSO component of the HSP.
The Voucher Program component of the HSP funds fully subsidised hearing services and devices to:
- NDIS participants 21 years of age and over. If you are a young adult aged 21 to 25 years (inclusive) you may choose to receive services through either the CSO or Voucher program.
Participants can choose their provider of supports under the Voucher Program of the HSP. There are around 280 contracted service providers (external) (External website) to choose from. Contracted service providers are not required to be registered with the NDIA to deliver services under the Voucher component of the HSP.
How do I access the Hearing Services Program (HSP)?
If you are an NDIS participant under 26 years of age, have a diagnosed permanent hearing impairment and not already receiving hearing services from Australian Hearing, your Local Area Coordinator (LAC), Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) Partner or National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) planner can refer you to Australian Hearing (external) (External website).
If you are 26 years and over, you will need to apply for the HSP Voucher Program. Complete the NDIS HSP application form (external) (External website) and have it signed by your doctor. Your LAC or NDIA planner will then submit the completed form including their details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will then receive a voucher and welcome pack from the HSP, which is valid for three years. You can use this voucher to receive fully subsidised hearing services and devices from contracted service providers (external) (External website) under the HSP.
If you are an NDIS participant 26 years of age and over with complex communication needs, you may be eligible to receive Specialist Hearing Services (external) (External website). Your LAC or NDIA planner can refer you to Specialist Hearing Services at Australian Hearing.
What does "fully subsidised" hearing devices mean?
Under the HSP, fully subsidised hearing aids must meet, and often exceed the performance and technical requirements prescribed by the program which are designed to help appropriately manage the effects of most people's hearing loss". Therefore, all hearing devices funded under the HSP are of a high-quality.
If you are eligible for the CSO component of the HSP, you will be able to access a broad range of high-quality hearing devices (including hearing aids), at no cost. You may also be eligible to receive devices in addition to hearing aids, for example a remote microphone system, to make the most of your hearing ability. These devices are all provided fully subsidised under the HSP and funding does not need to be included in your NDIS plan. Speech processor maintenance and repairs are also funded under the CSO component of the HSP if you have a Cochlear Implant. NDIS participants under 26 years of age may be eligible to receive speech processor upgrades from Australian Hearing if they meet the speech processor upgrade criteria (external) (External website).
If you are eligible for the HSP Voucher Program, you will also be able to access a high-quality hearing device (i.e. hearing aid) at no cost. You can access a wide range of fully subsidised hearing devices which have been recommended by your hearing provider, and are designed to help appropriately manage the effects of your hearing impairment.
What does "partially subsidised" hearing devices mean?
On occasion, a partially subsidised hearing device may be recommended by your hearing provider, as it has additional features that may enhance your individual lifestyle choice. In most cases, the fully subsidised hearing devices provided under the HSP are considered to be "the minimum necessary or standard level of support required" as described in the NDIS Operational Guidelines (Planning) 10.5. The NDIA will consider if the gap in funding for "partially subsidised" hearing devices should be funded in your NDIS plan. This will depend on your individual circumstances, information received from your hearing services provider, and whether it is considered "reasonable and necessary".
What is the difference between the Australian Government Hearing Service Program Community Service Obligation (CSO) and Voucher components?
The Australian Government Hearing Services Program is managed by the Department of Health which funds and provides access to subsidised hearing services to eligible people.
The Government’s Hearing Services Program has two service delivery components:
- The Voucher component is delivered by contracted service providers. Eligible people are issued with a voucher for hearing services and devices that they can use at a service provider of their choice.
- The CSO component is delivered by Australian Hearing to meet the needs of special needs groups, including children, indigenous Australians and adults with complex hearing needs.
What is Australian Hearing’s role under the CSO and the Voucher components of this program?
Australian Hearing is a contracted hearing service provider.
Under the Community Service Obligation component of the program, Australian Hearing is the sole provider, funded to deliver Community Service Obligation services.
While under the voucher component of the program, Australian Hearing, are one of over 280 contracted service providers.
Under the agreed transitional arrangements, the usual arrangements for the Community Service Obligation and voucher components of the program will also apply to NDIS participants.
How does the Australian Government Hearing Services Program work with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)?
Under the agreed transitional arrangements between the Hearing Services Program and the NDIS, the Hearing Services Program, continues to be delivered through prepaid supports also known as in-kind supports provided by the Department of Health.
Therefore, Hearing Services Program contracted service providers are not required to register as an NDIS provider or be registered to provide “hearing services”, and accordingly new NDIS provider registrations are currently not open for hearing services or specialised hearing services.
However, Hearing Services Program contracted service providers are still able to deliver services to both NDIS participants and program clients.
In addition to being able to access fully subsidised hearing devices and services under the program, NDIS participants may receive funding for other hearing equipment (e.g. vibrating/ flash smoke alarms) and the maintenance of their hearing device.
Who is eligible for Early Intervention hearing supports?
Early intervention support is available to both children and young adults who meet the early intervention requirements.
Prospective participants with a hearing loss may access the NDIS if they meet either the Disability or the Early Intervention requirements. The age of the prospective participant is a consideration when determining whether the person meets access under Early Intervention.
A rich body of evidence recognises that early intervention support up to and including the age of 25 is critical for people with hearing loss. Therefore, a streamlined approach to access is applied to this age group.
Section 25 of the NDIS Act outlines the conditions that will meet the Early Intervention requirements.
This same body of evidence suggests brain development and language capability have been achieved by the age of 26. Therefore, adults aged 26 and over will be assessed under the disability criteria as per section 24 of the NDIS Act.
What conditions meet the early intervention requirements for people 25 years old and under?
For people aged 0-25 years, the NDIS Operational Guidelines section 9.5.2. Early Intervention for hearing impairment for people aged 0-25 apply.
What are the eligibility requirements for people aged 26 and over?
For 26 years and over, prospective participants will need to meet the disability requirements. The NDIS Operational Guidelines section 8.3.3 Additional guidance for hearing impairments apply.
Section 24 of the NDIS Act outlines the conditions which are likely to meet the disability requirements. This includes permanent bilateral hearing loss > 90 decibels in the better ear (pure tone average of 500Hz, 1000Hz, 2000Hz and 4000Hz).
Can NDIS participants choose their Hearing Services Program-contracted service provider?
Under the voucher component of the Hearing Services Program, a participant can choose from over 280 contracted service providers. Visit the Hearing Services Program website (external) (External website) to search the list of contracted service providers.
For children and young adults (0-25 years of age), they are eligible to receive fully subsidised hearing services from Australian Hearing. Australian Hearing is the sole provider for services funded under the Community Service Obligation component of the program.
Under the Hearing Services Program, young adults (including NDIS participants) aged 21 to 25 can choose to receive services through either the Community Service Obligation or voucher component of the Hearing Services Program.
What if the participant has complex communication needs?
If the participant is 26 years and over and has complex communication needs, they may be eligible to receive specialist hearing services (external) (External website), which are currently delivered exclusively by Australian Hearing. These participants can choose to stay with their existing hearing provider (under the voucher component of the Hearing Services Program) or use a provider other than Australian Hearing. If a participant chooses another provider, NDIS will not cover any gap in funding as a result.
Will the gap for partially subsidised hearing aids be funded under the NDIS?
The fully subsidised hearing devices provided under the Hearing Services Program are considered to be of high quality technology, in the majority of cases fully subsidised hearing aids are considered to be the minimum necessary or standard level of support required, as described in the NDIS Operational Guidelines (Planning) 10.5.
In exceptional circumstances, the NDIS will consider if the gap in funding for partially subsidised hearing devices will be funded in the participant’s NDIS plan. This will depend on the individual circumstances, the additional features requested, information received from the hearing services provider and whether it is considered reasonable and necessary.
If the NDIS determines that the gap is not reasonable and necessary, the participant can choose to independently purchase the partially subsidised hearing device/s with the desired additional features. Read the three NDIS participant booklets to learn more about the participant planning process.
What can an audiologist do if the NDIA does not approve funding to cover the gap for partially subsidised hearing aids?
If the request for NDIS to fund the gap for partially subsidised hearing device does not meet the reasonable and necessary criteria and has not been approved by the NDIS, then the audiologist will need to discuss other options with their client.
This may include further exploring the extensive range of high quality fully subsidised hearing aids or the option of the client independently contributing to the cost of partially subsidised hearing aids.
The Hearing Services Program legislation does not allow for the reimbursement of the ‘gap’ payment (external) (External website) to clients.
How do participants contribute their own funds for partially subsidised hearing aids?
As the participant is choosing to pay for partially subsidised hearing aids, which do not meet the reasonable and necessary criteria, then they can simply pay the gap directly to the hearing provider from their personal funds (not using NDIS plan funding).
If the participant has private health insurance, they may consider contacting their insurer, as the insurer may contribute to the cost of the hearing aids, as part of the participant’s policy.
An audiologist performs a hearing assessment to support the participant to apply for the NDIS. How do they get funded for this preliminary work?
Diagnostic audiology assessments either receive a Medicare rebate or are funded through the Hearing Services Program so the initial audiological assessment is not funded under the NDIS.
Where do I go for hearing services updates and more information?
For more information and updates on hearing services, please the Hearing Services Program website (external) (External website).