Life-changing cochlear implants for more Territorians

Charlie can now hear thanks to his new cochlear implants(l-r) RIDBC Director of Services, Bart Cavalletto; Dr Hemi Patel; Charlie's parents Sinead and Nick with seven-month-old Charlie; and Northern Territory Health Minister, Natasha Fyles

Northern Territory Health Minister, Natasha Fyles, visited the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) today to witness the moment when seven-month-old Charlie heard sound for the very first time, as his new cochlear implant was switched-on.

Charlie was diagnosed with severe hearing loss after his hearing was tested through the Northern Territory’s newborn hearing screening program. Further scans showed bilateral Large Vestibular Aquaduct Syndrome (LVAS), which meant that Charlie's hearing was likely to deteriorate even further over time. It was evident that Charlie was getting some access to loud sounds, but not enough for speech and language development. 

Charlie received his cochlear implant at the Royal Darwin Hospital in early March 2017 and is an example of one of the many children and adults whose life could be changed by a cochlear implant.

In a first for the Northern Territory, NT Health have announced their commitment to providing public funding for six cochlear implant surgeries and specialist support services through RIDBC to be provided each year for Territorians.

Bart Cavalletto, Director of Services at RIDBC, said, “RIDBC supports many people with hearing loss living in the Northern Territory. Our close working relationships with local ENT Surgeons Dr Graeme Crossland and Dr Hemi Patel, Royal Darwin Hospital and the ongoing commitment shown by NT Health ensures that Territorians who could benefit from cochlear implants have an opportunity to receive these life-changing services, supported by their local communities.”

Today, one in six Australians is deaf or hard of hearing. As technology advances, there are more possibilities than ever before for Australians with hearing loss to thrive in all aspects of family community and working life.

SCIC Cochlear Implant Program, an RIDBC service, is Australia’s largest and most comprehensive cochlear implant program, setting new benchmarks and delivering the highest level of care and support at every stage of the cochlear implant journey. RIDBC has been committed to providing comprehensive services to Territorians for some 5 years, and remains committed to an ongoing presence in the Northern Territory.

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 for people of all ages.

To learn more about RIDBC’s SCIC Cochlear Implant Program, visit or call 1300 658 981.