A new partnership has launched which will see free hearing services provided to vulnerable members of the community.


The initiative, a partnership between the Commonwealth, Hearing Australia and the Salvation Army, will see regular support services for listening and communication to those who may be experiencing homelessness, mental health and general health issues, or have a drug and alcohol addiction. 


The offering includes reviews of hearing and communication needs, selecting, fitting and helping people make good use of hearing devices and ongoing clinical care and device repair services.


The program will be based out of the Magpie Nest Café at the Salvation Army’s Project 614 in Melbourne, where free meals, crisis intervention and general and ongoing support are offered to people in need ­– including those experiencing homelessness, people living in boarding houses, asylum seekers and international students.


In a release announcing the program, Minister for NDIS and Government Services Bill Shorten said hearing loss impacts 3.6 million Australians, with more than 1.3 million people living with a hearing condition that could have been prevented.


Minister Shorten said people who are facing hardship don’t need another layer of social isolation caused by hearing loss.


“Hearing loss can make it difficult for people to learn and communicate, impacting a person’s ability to get an education or find work. It can cause significant harm to mental health and can lead to memory loss, social isolation and depression,” he said.


Major Brendan Nottle, the Salvation Army Melbourne Project 614 manager, said he believed the partnership would be transformative for the 500 or so people who visited the café each day.


Major Nottle said Hearing Australia are conducting hearing tests in a very relaxed and informal environment and helping to provide the support people need to reconnect with the community once again. 


“We are really looking forward to a long and fruitful partnership with Hearing Australia and we believe that some of the most vulnerable people in our community will benefit significantly from this partnership in the cafe.”

Hearing Australia Managing Director Kim Terrell said just like the Salvation Army, her organisation is committed to improving the lives of others, regardless of their age, location or background. 


“We continue to achieve our mission through collaboration with dedicated and vital organisations like the Salvos, working with the government and partnering with communities to prevent and treat hearing loss. Together, we’re making it easier for all Australians to get the expert hearing care they deserve.”


The announcement came just a few weeks before Minister Shorten officially opened the Hearing Australia Figtree Centre in New South Wales, which supports close to 4,000 children and adults. 


It is hoped the future success of the collaboration will lead to further Hearing Australia programs being opened.