Key organisations in the hearing health sector do not believe that the NDIS and the sector is ready move to new funding arrangements and to a contestable market for the delivery of hearing services to children on 1 July 2020, particularly during this major health crisis.
It is clear that there is still much to be done to ensure children are able to access quality hearing services under the new arrangements, and it is highly unlikely that the work can be achieved in the time remaining, particularly in the current environment.
This decision must be reversed. The Government must not bring further chaos into an already chaotic world by introducing major changes in the delivery of hearing services
to a highly vulnerable population.
The Government can protect the needs of children with hearing loss in these challenging times by extending the current in-kind arrangements with the Hearing Services Program for another two years. This will allow time for the policy framework to be finalised; for the necessary safeguards to be put into place; for consumers, NDIS staff and hearing services providers to be educated on the new arrangements; and time for the country to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The families of children with hearing loss, like all Australians, are anxious about how they will cope with the impact of COVID-19. They are worried about how to keep their family safe, whether they still have a job, whether they will need to put home-schooling arrangements in place, and whether they can access basic grocery items for their family.
Having to understand and navigate new arrangements that apply to accessing hearing services for their child is not what families need when they are trying to address critical issues that impact their daily living arrangements.
Deferring the transition of hearing services to the NDIS is a simple, practical solution to maintaining quality hearing care for children with hearing loss during this major health crisis.
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