Audiology Australia: Empowering clients and raising standards

By Judith Vonberg

Welcome to the second in a series of interviews with the Ida Institute’s global partners, all members of the Person-Centered Hearing Network (PCHN) and with a common vision of a person-centered future in hearing care.

This week, we hear from Audiology Australia, the country’s biggest professional community for audiologists and an Ida Institute partner since 2018.

CEO Tony Coles talks hearing loss prevention, empowered clients, and new standards in audiology.

How do you and your organization work towards making hearing care more person-centered?

Audiology Australia is the peak professional body for audiologists in Australia. With more than 3,000 members, we provide accreditation for audiologists to ensure the highest possible standards of practice and client care. 

As part of our accreditation program, all members are required to have read, acknowledged and agreed to abide by our Code of Conduct, which includes audiologists being required to put the needs of clients first and foremost in all clinical decisions, and involve clients in the decision-making processes. 

What three words would you use to describe your organization?

Peak. Professional. Progressive. 

Tell us about a project you’re working on that excites you.

Audiology Australia is currently working on National Competency Standards and Pediatric Competency Standards for the Australian profession of audiology. 

Developed with feedback from audiologists and clients alike, these standards will seek to outline the expected minimum competencies of audiologists – providing greater assurance and understanding for clients when they consult an audiologist. 

The process involves working with audiologists and consumers to develop standards, including a need for audiologists to provide client and family-centered care and only provide hearing services that are clinically justified or in the best interests of the client. 

These standards will enhance the ability of audiologists to work with their clients and empower clients as to what they can expect when engaging their audiologist. 

Why did your organization join the Person-Centered Hearing Network?

Audiology Australia’s interest in person-centered hearing care is vital in delivering advocacy, resources, professional development, and tools for our members to best support their clients, including involving clients (and their families) in the decision-making process regarding their hearing health. 

The more we can facilitate the provision of information to members, the more options they have in delivering the best possible support to those who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

What do you see as the greatest challenges and opportunities for hearing care in the next decade?

One of the greatest challenges for hearing healthcare is the significant numbers of people who may lose their hearing, especially noise-induced hearing loss. Preventing hearing loss is critical, and providing accessible hearing healthcare options for the public, provided by qualified audiologists, will continue to be a key focus for Audiology Australia over the next decade. 

Embracing technology, advocating for good public policy, ensuring flexible and practical models of funding, and working with the needs of clients will help overcome and meet some of these challenges.

In one sentence, what is your ideal vision of hearing care in the future?

We believe every person has the right to communicate and interact with the world in ways that are fulfilling and meaningful to them.

Image: Tony Coles