21 October 2022

NHMRC welcomes the announcement from the Australian Government of almost $7.5 million in funding to support research focusing on improving hearing health outcomes and the wellbeing of those with a hearing impairment.

Nine projects have been funded, including a number that focus on improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s access to hearing health services.

Researchers at Flinders University will co-design culturally appropriate methods to overcome difficulties experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children accessing hearing healthcare.

At Curtin University, researchers will provide the first estimates of the number of Aboriginal children who have ear infections and hearing loss from 0 to 5 years of age and will demonstrate the feasibility of screening for ear infections and hearing loss from 2 months of age. 

The grants are funded for three years through the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Targeted Call for Research into Hearing Health 2021: Evidence-based support services. 

The grant scheme aims to develop an evidence base for hearing support services that can adapt to client needs and technological changes as well as develop strategies to improve healthy hearing habits, especially in vulnerable populations.

Research projects announced today aim to:

  • strengthen the evidence base for effective and robust screening and/or preventive therapies for hearing loss
  • develop interventions that increase support for the adoption of new technology across the life-stages
  • generate a greater understanding of the psychosocial and emotional impact of hearing loss on the individual and develop strategies to improve their wellbeing.

'We know that hearing loss can affect a child’s ability to listen, learn and talk and can result in lower school attendance' said NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso AO. 

'Hearing loss can also affect social and emotional wellbeing, increasing the risk of low self-esteem, low confidence, memory loss and depression, and leading to social isolation.'

'Research projects such as those funded today will do more than address hearing. The research projects will deliver practical improvements through access to health care, technological innovations and social support.

'NHMRC’s Targeted Calls for Research are an important way to address specific health issues experienced in the community and produce outcomes that can be translated into health care services that improve the quality of life for all Australians.'

Projects announced today are:

Chief Investigator Title Institution Budget
Dr Jacqueline Stephens Pathways For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Hearing Health: The PATHWAY Project Flinders University $1,155,685
Professor Piers Dawes Improving access to the hearing services program for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds The University of Queensland $902,757
Associate Professor Christopher Brennan-Jones Prevalence of hearing loss in Aboriginal children caused by otitis media from birth to 5 years of age and evidence of the effectiveness of health promotion programs: evidence to inform national policy Curtin University $1,123,133
Associate Professor Valerie Sung Building on newborn hearing screening success: towards national standards and data management Murdoch Children’s Research Institute $1,436,994
Associate Professor Nerina Scarinci Improving the psychosocial and emotional well-being of adults with hearing loss through co-designed evidence-based services: ACE2.0 The University of Queensland $527,012
Dr Andrew Ford Hearables and behavioural activation for mental distress and social isolation in hearing impaired older adults University of Western Australia $571,966
Associate Professor Christina Bryant Implementation and Evaluation of a Co-designed Program Targeting the Psychosocial and Emotional Impacts of Hearing Conditions in Adults University of Melbourne $496,103
Associate Professor Melanie Ferguson Empowering adults with hearing loss by increasing informed choice, accessibility, and uptake of hearing healthcare Curtin University $683,027
Associate Professor Julia Sarant Hearing loss, the silent enemy of good health: Effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and potential economic and social impact of interventions to promote treatment to facilitate improved hearing University of Melbourne $541,448

*Projects are listed in order of application number.