Minister announces funding for Port Macquarie

13/03/15
(l-r) The Hon. Troy Grant, MP; RIDBC cochlear implant recipient, Marianne; The Hon. Jillian Skinner, MP; and RIDBC Chief Executive, Chris Rehn

Cochlear implant services in Port Macquarie will be expanded, following an announcement by The Hon. Jillian Skinner, MP, Minister for Health and Minister for Medical Research and The Hon. Troy Grant, MP, Deputy Premier, in Port Macquarie today.

The grant of $240,000 will enable SCIC Cochlear Implant Program, an RIDBC service, to develop a new, fit-for-purpose facility to support more people with hearing loss on the NSW Mid North Coast.

“We are grateful to Minister Skinner for this generous support,” said RIDBC Chief Executive, Chris Rehn. “This will allow us to develop a new, fit-for-purpose site in Port Macquarie so that we can continue to provide children and adults with the very best quality services and support at every stage of their cochlear implant journey.”

The link between hearing loss and dementia has resulted in the Mid North Coast being identified as an area of high need for local cochlear implant services. In partnership with the local health service, RIDBC will provide 10 implants for adults on the Mid North Coast each year for three years.

“The partnership between government and RIDBC will revolutionise the lives of recipients, families and communities through the highest quality cochlear implant services, ensuring recipients are able to receive services in their local community surrounded by family and other supports,” said Mr Rehn.

There are currently in the vicinity of 140 people in Port Macquarie and surrounding areas with cochlear implants, with a further 20 people currently being assessed for surgery.

“The ongoing support required for people needing cochlear implant services in country areas is significant, with numbers increasing steadily,” said Mr Rehn. “RIDBC is looking to develop a new site which will provide a fully equipped, dedicated environment in a key precinct, allowing good community access to our services and close proximity to Port Macquarie Base Hospital.”

RIDBC’s cochlear implant program supports clients to access a range of implantable hearing devices according to their needs. The program provides the highest level of care and support through a seamless, end-to-end suite of services, from early intervention and education for children with hearing loss; through to specialist assessment, surgical liaison and re/habilitation support services for people of all ages.

In 2010, Port Macquarie resident, Marianne, was fitted with a cochlear implant in her right ear through SCIC Cochlear Implant Program. Deaf from an early age, Marianne received the first of two hearing aids in her late 20's – but these were no longer giving her access to sound.

"The sound became muffled, so I made the decision to receive a cochlear implant," said Marianne. "Now, my quality of life has increased exponentially. As a swimming coach my job is all about communicating - imagine coordinating a children's swimming lesson across six swimming lanes without your hearing!

"It's easy to lose confidence when you have hearing loss – you are constantly asking people to repeat information and the concentration it takes is immense. It can wear you down. Now, so many areas of my life have changed. Even something as simple as being able to talk on the phone.

"The implant wasn't 'magic' – I had to work hard to hear and that's why having a local service through SCIC Cochlear Implant Program was so important. They support you every step of the way."

For more information about cochlear implants or the SCIC Cochlear Implant Program, visit ridbc.org.au/scic or call 1300 658 981.

RIDBC is Australia’s largest non-government provider of therapy, education, cochlear implant and diagnostic services for people with hearing or vision loss, supporting thousands of adults, children and their families, each year. Services are provided from 17 sites across Australia and through an outreach service that supports clients living in regional areas.

RIDBC is a charity and relies heavily on fundraising and community support to be able to continue to make a difference in the lives of children and adults with vision or hearing loss.