Labor calls on the Abbott Government to improve healthcare services available to agricultural workers’ suffering from significant hearing loss.


A study reported in the latest issue of the Australian Journal of Rural Health has found that:

  • Some 51 per cent of the nation's farm workers (over 160,000 people) are regularly exposed to daily noise levels above the Australian Exposure Standard of 85 decibels.
  • Harmful noise levels from tractors, firearms and machinery have been identified as the key culprits in causing hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss has a profound effect on workers’ quality of life, causing “significant adverse psycho-social effects on those involved” and “increased rates of affective mood disorders and poorer social relations”.
  • Noise exposure affected men and women equally.

The National Rural Health Alliance has warned that the lack of healthcare professionals in remote areas was a particular concern. In very remote areas there is fewer than the equivalent of one full-time pathologist and audiologist per 10,000 people compared to 3.5 per 10,000 in major cities.

Tony Abbott needs to focus on the health of all Australians, including those living outside our urban centres.

The Abbott Government must start listening to people in rural areas and pursue policies to recruit medical professionals to rural areas and improve healthcare services in the bush.

The Rural Doctors Association of Australia has appealed for the Abbott Government to hit the reset button on healthcare outcomes in rural and regional Australia. Yet healthcare professionals outside of the nation’s cities continue to be ignored and the government’s downgrading of preventative healthcare services continues.

Labor believes that the Abbott Government must act on the warning by rural health experts, promise that they will keep their hands off Medicare and outline what they are going to do to improve the delivery of healthcare services in the bush.