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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 August 2016) . . Page.. 2660 ..

An awareness program is held each year during Hearing Awareness Week. This expo has been well attended in past years and provides information on the range of hearing supports or aids that can assist people to improve their hearing in different settings. Last weekend I was in my electorate speaking with the chief executive of the ACT Deafness Resource Centre about some of the issues experienced by people affected by deafness and hearing loss. Later this month I will be meeting with the Deafness Resource Centre as well as the Shepherd Centre.

During Hearing Awareness Week I will be honoured to officially open the Deafness Resource Centre’s annual expo on 24 August. I will be speaking to the attendees about hearing awareness issues and looking forward to catching up and talking with exhibitors from the hearing industry, community organisations exhibiting at the event and attendees who are keen to find out more.

I wish everyone involved with Hearing Awareness Week every success and once again thank Ms Lawder for bringing this motion, which I am delighted to support.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Corrections, Minister for Education, Minister for Justice and Consumer Affairs and Minister for Road Safety) (4.12): Thank you for the opportunity to speak to this motion today. Hearing Awareness Week starts on 24 August, and it is an important time to stop and reflect on what it means to be hearing impaired or deaf and how people who are hearing impaired can be better integrated into our community, including, importantly, our workplaces. We must not reduce people’s capacity to engage in their workplace and their community by having barriers that prevent full engagement.

Hearing loss affects people right across our community, for example, children born with hearing loss; children who suffer from middle ear infections during their early years, sometimes leading to long-term hearing and developmental issues; teenagers and young adults who increase their risk of hearing loss by exposing themselves to loud music and also music through headphones; people working in industrial work sites using noisy equipment; and hearing loss associated with ageing.

The impacts of hearing loss are wide and varied. Obviously, for those who have severe or profound loss, there are life-long impacts on communication, learning and socialisation. For young children who have middle ear issues, there are impacts on their learning in classrooms and their attention skills as well as speech and language issues. In the Education Directorate, our specially trained hearing team works across schools to build their capacities to support the needs of children within the classroom.

Noise-induced hearing loss affects people from across the community. With only a mild hearing loss, people can find it difficult to participate in social conversations, sometimes causing them to withdraw from larger gatherings. In work situations it can also be very difficult, as conversations can be fast moving and difficult for someone with a hearing impairment to follow. Formal work events do not always cater effectively for people with a hearing impairment, providing a further barrier.

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