6% Shout About It Before We Have To

Published: Tue 1 Dec 2009 12:09 PM
1 December 2009
6% Shout About It Before We Have To
Six per cent hearing loss may not seem like a big deal to Nick Smith and ACC, but for many New Zealanders it’s life-changing – and not in a good way.
Critically, six percent hearing loss does not mean that people have 94 per cent ‘good’ hearing. Rather it equates to a life struggling to accurately hear in group settings, given that the primary area of hearing affected at this level is the ability to effectively discern speech.
Someone with a six per cent hearing loss would not be able to tell the difference between “kiss” and “fish” which is obviously quite an important distinction to make.
Spokesperson for the New Zealand Hearing Industry Group*, Michelle Lawson says that prior to passing a blunt instrument like a 6 per cent threshold into law, ACC need to fully understand exactly what impact the legislation will have on the country – financially, socially and ethically.
“If this goes ahead, many New Zealanders who worked to build our country across primary industries like farming and manufacturing will face a complete lack of support for the noise induced hearing loss that they developed as a result of unsafe workplaces.
“Through no fault of their own, these people will have to live with an irreversible condition – the damage to their hearing was done years ago, on the farm or in the factory. Rather than providing them with the assistance they were promised, ACC is turning their back,” she adds.
ACC has admitted that the six per cent hearing threshold was selected purely as a cost cutting exercise.
Michelle says that this approach flies in the face of the industry, which has already worked in collaboration with ACC to reduce public money spent on hearing aids by $10 million over the last 18 months, and believes that the changes will only serve to create a false economy that will shift costs to the public health system and other sectors.
The potential impacts of these changes are so significant that the New Zealand Hearing Industry Group has banded together in an unprecedented move to lobby government and expose the legislation’s many faults.
The group will be taking to the streets over the coming days to bring the issue of six per cent to life, and challenge the public to experience exactly what it is like to live with this level of hearing loss.

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