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23.6.2 Discharged Members
A number of issues impact on the investigation of claims from employees who have left the ADF. As well as the need to establish the level of noise exposure due to ADF employment, there are other factors to consider. These may include the extent of any noise exposure in post ADF employment, sporting or recreational activities that may have affected hearing levels or any other medical conditions or incidents which may have an impact on levels of hearing.
An increasing number of claims for hearing loss relate to service during the currency of the 1930 and 1971 Acts. This raises the issue of the Commonwealth being prejudiced as the vast majority of these claimants did not serve notice on their employer (see chapters 7 and 8 in this Handbook for information on prejudice matters under the 1930 and 1971 Acts).
There is also the matter of the unreliability of the Whisper Test used to indicate hearing levels in the 1950s and 1960s.
As a general practice, the same lines of investigation can be pursued for discharged members as for those still serving. However, delegates can make use of the discharge medical review (now known as the Separation Health Examination) to establish levels of hearing loss. This then identifies the level of hearing loss for which the ADF employment is responsible.
The RCG also relies on the opinion of Professor Black in accepting that once someone leaves Defence employment, any further deterioration in hearing is not related to ADF service.