Australian Hearing is a statutory authority constituted under the Australian Hearing Services Act 1991, reporting to the Minister for Human Services, and is within the Department of Human Services portfolio. Australian Hearing is the largest Australian government-funded hearing aid dispensing company providing hearing care and technologies. One of their areas of interest is hearing testing and rehabilitation of children under the age of 26.
Its 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). Its 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 was renamed the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories, with the aim of providing hearing services for children and veterans. It was in 1973 renamed the National Acoustic Laboratories.
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.
- Anyone under the age of 26 (before 1 January 2012 eligibility was lost at 21),
- Holders of Pensioner concession cards, or their dependants,
- Recipients of a sickness allowance from Centrelink, or their dependants,
- Department of Veterans' Affairs Gold Repatriation Health Card holders, or their dependants,
- Department of Veterans' Affairs White Repatriation Health Card holders where hearing loss is specified, or their dependants,
- 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).