Hundreds of thousands of school aged children will benefit from an Australian-developed app that delivers a user-friendly hearing test, with the Morrison Government funding a $4 million national rollout.
In an innovative and cost-effective approach, the free tests will be conducted online using Sound Scouts, a fun, tablet-based game that detects hearing issues in children.
The new tests were announced today by the Minister responsible for hearing services policy, Ken Wyatt AM, Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation Michael Keenan and Trent Zimmerman, Member for North Sydney.
Minister Wyatt said that last year, 600 five to seven year old children received hearing aids for the first time, and our Government was determined to ensure children with hearing loss were identified and helped earlier.
“The Sound Scouts program is engaging and fun, but with some serious benefits for our nation’s children,” said Minister Wyatt. “A recent study found that up to 1.3 million Australians are living with hearing conditions that could have been prevented.
We know that delays in recognising and treating hearing loss in children’s first few years of school can be profound and long lasting, undermining their future prospects.”
A Macquarie University study analysed the Sound Scouts system, finding it delivered a $10 return in benefits for children and the community, for every $1 spent on the app.
The program will start in 2019 and will run for up to five years, ensuring that up to 600,000 Australian children age 4-17 have their hearing checked using the Sound Scout test.
Australian Hearing has been provided a grant of $4 million through the Department of Health to deliver these online hearing tests through the Sound Scouts app.
Sound Scouts is currently the only tool of its kind available in Australia validated by the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL), the research arm of Australian Hearing.