The Fred Hollows Foundation has committed its biggest-ever investment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health with the launch of its new Indigenous Australia Program Five Year Country Strategy.
The strategy will see The Foundation invest at least $40 million over the next five years to closing the eye health gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
Launching the strategy on The Foundation’s 27th Anniversary, Indigenous Australia Program Manager Shaun Tatipata said Australia’s First Peoples are three times more likely to go blind than other Australians and 12 times more likely to have cataract, the world’s leading cause of blindness.
“While we have made significant progress over the last decade, we still have much more to do to achieve full eye health equity,” Mr Tatipata said.
“Fred was passionate about partnering with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and involving them in health programs that affected them.
“This is a huge focus for us over the next five years, to empower Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services by giving them the support and tools they need to provide their own quality eye health services.
“Last year, The Fred Hollows Foundation contributed to more than 1,000 cataract surgeries for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and doubled the number of cataract surgeries in the Katherine region of the Northern Territory.
“We thank the Australian Government and our partners for supporting our work and we ask that they join in our efforts to close the gap on eye health for good.”
The launch was held at the Aboriginal Medical Service in the Sydney suburb of Redfern, to which Fred donated resources when it was first established.
Dignitaries present included Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney and Gabi Hollows AO, Founding Director of The Foundation.
The Foundation’s CEO Ian Wishart said Fred’s pioneering spirit was very much alive in the new Country Strategy, which seeks to identify and test better ways to address challenges.
“Empowerment is at the heart of what we do, and today is about empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples by giving their eye health an ambitious way forward,” Mr Wishart said.
The Indigenous Australia Program Five Year Country Strategy is underpinned by five goals and five objectives.
The initiatives align with the Strong Eyes, Strong Communities plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health, developed by members of Vision 2020 Australia.
- Goal 1: Effective cataract treatment is accessible to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples;
- Goal 2: Trachoma, the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness, is eliminated from Australia;
- Goal 3: Effective refractive error prevention and treatment is accessible to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples;
- Goal 4: Effective and timely treatment for diabetic retinopathy and other eye conditions is accessible to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
- Strengthen regional eye health services;
- Train and strengthen the eye health workforce;
- Strengthen eye care in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services;
- Finally eliminate trachoma;
- Ensure governments adopt The Strong Eyes, Strong Communities national plan.