Australian Hearing is the largest Australian hearing aid dispensing company. They provide hearing care and technologies. One of their areas of interest is hearing testing and rehabilitation of children before they turn 26.
Their research division, the National Acoustic Laboratories, takes part in collaborative research for the Cooperative Research Centre for Cochlear Implant and Hearing Aid Innovation (CRC HEAR). Their research can be broadly divided into the areas of hearing assessment, hearing loss prevention, hearing rehabilitation devices and hearing rehabilitation procedures.
Australian Hearing is the current incarnation of the Acoustic Research Laboratory that was set up in 1942. Its initial purpose was the investigation of noise on behalf of the Australian Military during World War II. After the war it helped those children whose hearing was affected by earlier rubella outbreaks.
The Commonwealth Department of Health (now the Department of Health and Ageing) took over the Laboratory and renamed it the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories, with the aim of providing hearing services for children and veterans. It was eventually renamed the National Acoustic Laboratories in 1973.
The Australian Hearing Services Act 1991 established it as Australian Hearing Services, a Commonwealth Government Statutory Authority. The name National Acoustics Laboratories was retained for its research division. When the Department of Human Services was formed in 2004, the agency now known as Australian Hearing was moved into its portfolio.
In February 2014 the National Commission of Audit recommended in its Phase One Report that the Commonwealth sell its interest in Australian Hearing Services.
To be eligible for hearing services from Australian Hearing, one must be an Australian resident or permanent resident, and meet one of the following categories:
- Anyone under the age of 26 (before 1 January 2012 eligibility was lost at 21)
- Holders of Pensioner concession cards, or dependants of
- Recipients of a sickness allowance from Centrelink, or dependants of
- Department of Veterans' Affairs Gold Repatriation Health Card holders, or dependants of
- Department of Veterans' Affairs White Repatriation Health Card holders where hearing loss is specified, or dependants of
- Australian Defence Force personnel
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 50 and over
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples participating in a Community Development Employment Project (CDEP).