About Deafness Forum

Deafness Forum of Australia

DEAFNESS FORUM OF AUSTRALIA is the peak national body representing all interests and viewpoints of the one in six Australians who are hard of hearing, Deaf, deafblind, have a hearing loss or a chronic ear or balance disorder, and the families who support them.

Deafness Forum provides balanced and realistic advice to the Australian Government and the Opposition to inform public policy and build a fairer and more inclusive nation.

It represents a broad national membership of individuals with a lived experience and their families; as well as associations of, or for these people, and individuals and associations which provide services that promote hearing health and well being.

It is closely connected to the ‘grass roots’ in its sector, to ensure the Government is aware of both individual and social perspectives. It:

  • Represents and promotes the interests of its members and others through national consultations, information sharing and advocacy.
  • Is a forum for organisations and individuals to promote these interests; and a conduit to service providers, the wider health and disability sectors, the community and politicians.
  • Encourages and aids relevant research and sharing of knowledge and experience.
  • Advises the Government on strategic policy development and reform.

Read our Strategic Plan  Read our Constitution  Read our Annual reports

Today, one in six Australians is affected by hearing loss.  For many it is so debilitating that it affects their family and social lifestyle and their employment.  With an ageing population, hearing loss is projected to increase to 1 in every 4 Australians by 2050.  A significant component of acquired hearing loss (37 percent) is due to excessive noise exposure from workplace noise and leisure activities such as inappropriate listening behaviours, and this is largely preventable.  Hearing loss is associated with increasing age, rising from less than 1 percent for people younger than 15 years to three in every four people aged over 70 years.  About 18 percent of the population live with ear disorders such as Tinnitus and Meniere's.

According to a report by Access Economics in 2006, hearing loss has a real, annual financial cost to the nation of $11bn; and an equivalent net economic loss of health and wellbeing. 

Hearing loss represents a significant and quantifiable economic cost to Australia.  In particular, given our ageing population, and the need for all Australians to stay productive for longer, impact of hearing loss on productivity in the workforce must be viewed as a critical matter than can be addressed.  People who want to participate in the labour force and have a hearing loss face challenges that are unfamiliar to most of their hearing peers: for some, the barriers become evident, start at or before the process of searching for work and, for many, they become more acute during the selection process or at work.  A loss of hearing acuity can also lead people to exit the labour force sooner than they would like to, and before their intended age of retirement.

Deafness Forum acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia, and their continuing connection to land, sea and community.  We pay our respects to them and their cultures, and to elders both past and present.  We acknowledge the challenges facing Indigenous leaders and families to overcome the high levels of hearing health issues in their communities.

Our Patron is The Honourable John Howard OM AC, 25th Prime Minister of Australia (11 March 1996 to 3 December 2007).  Hearing impaired since youth, Mr Howard wore two hearing aids throughout his professional career.  Mr Howard was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian award, recognising exceptional meritorious service - the honour roll includes Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

Professional services provided to Deafness Forum

Accounting: Successful Alliances
Auditor: Duesburys Nexia
Events – pro bono: Robbie Weekes, retired Head of ABC Television Victoria
IT support – pro bono: Blue Arc IT Solutions
National Health Priority campaign: Essential Media Communications

Website hosting and management – pro bono: Conexu