In 2017, the Federal Government announced that all hearing aid stocks in Australia would be phased out by 2020, meaning the supply chain would be completely replaced by one that uses robots.
However, hearing aid suppliers have been struggling to keep up with the new regulations, as the industry is under pressure to maintain its supply chain as the Government tries to keep prices low.
The Australian Hearing Aid Association says there are about 1,000 different brands of hearing aid in Australia, but it’s been hard to keep track of which ones are currently available and what they can do.
“I have been working with a couple of suppliers that were looking to start sourcing in 2018, but the supply was in doubt for quite a while,” Mr Hines said.
“[Now] they’re all out in the open.”
Mr Hines says his company is in the process of sourcing hearing aid supplies for Australia.
He says hearing aid makers have been reluctant to invest in the Australian market because of the difficulties involved in getting the equipment in place.
“I think they have been scared to invest because they don’t want to be in a position where they’re just going to go to the manufacturer and say, ‘Here’s this thing, here’s that’,” he said.
“They want to know, ‘What are the risks involved, what is the benefit of buying from us, what are the costs involved, how do we make this happen?'”
The Association is also keen to make sure there is a supply chain of suppliers for hearing aid manufacturers.
“It’s a challenge because you have to find out, ‘How do we know where this product comes from, where this equipment comes from and where are the manufacturing processes, so that we can do the sourcing and the manufacturing,'” Mr Hine said.
“But the more you can find out about them, the more effective it is going to be.”
Mr Venter says it is important that hearing aid producers have access to the right supply chain, which means the industry needs to keep an eye on the availability of the hearing aid products in Australia.
“If they can find suppliers in Australia that have the equipment that they need, then you have a supply that’s going to keep going, even if the market does get flooded,” he said.””
And that’s what we want to do, we want the market to be flooded, we just want it to be a little bit safer.