To celebrate International Day of Indigenous Peoples 2023, we are pleased to bring you a special QnA with Jaki Adams, Chair IAPB Indigenous Peoples Special Interest Group (IPSIG).
What are your thoughts on the theme “Indigenous Youth as Agents of Change for Self-determination” from the perspective of being the group chair?
Youth are the future! Our ‘today’ is setting us up for our ‘tomorrow’ and hopefully leaving the world we touch in a better place for our children and their children’s children. Through many Indigenous Peoples cultures, the current Referendum process in Australia, and all of our work in social justice (upholding the rights of Indigenous Peoples) we also have a responsibility to ensure our youth are acknowledged and heard – that they have a voice and are supported in using it. “Indigenous Youth as Agents of Change for Self-determination” is a very fitting theme for this year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and the IAPB Indigenous Peoples Special Interest Group will look for all opportunities to ensure the perspectives of our youth is captured in all that we do.
What were the significant successes, and what valuable lessons have emerged from IPSIG’s journey?
The IAPB Indigenous Peoples Special Interest Group (IPSIG) was launched in July 2021 (as the First Nations Special Interest Group) and aims to champion the eye care needs of Indigenous Peoples globally through establishing a network of Indigenous Peoples, also supported by our allies working with Indigenous Peoples, to enable world-wide connections, and the sharing of knowledge, research and evidence of best practice.
The IPSIG represents many different countries and regions, encompassing many Indigenous populations with differing cultures, experiences, values and opportunities. While championing the rights of Indigenous Peoples globally, we acknowledge the specific circumstances and experiences of the many Indigenous Peoples not represented in IPSIG.
The IPSIG has achieved many successes to date and these include:
- Establishing and agreeing to a set of engagement principles for the IPSIG, and most importantly that the IPSIG will be led and driven by Indigenous Peoples
- Agreement on ‘Indigenous’ as the collective term for the IPSIG, whilst also acknowledging the right of Indigenous Peoples to ‘determine their own identity and membership’;
- The collective redefining of the scale to include those living with blindness, to shift the eye health narrative from exclusive to inclusive;
- Increased visibility of Indigenous Peoples needs across the sector;
- Global momentum is building, including expanding membership of the IPSIG within and beyond IAPB;
- Highlighting self-determination and ownership of data as critical considerations going forward; and
- Several member publications (including on the IAPB IPSIG Page https://www.iapb.org/connect/work-groups/first-nations-special-interest-group/ and finalisation of a Paper on the CONSIDER Statement (pending publication)) and delivery of presentations (on the IPSIG and Indigenous Peoples Eye Care needs at various forums)
What were some of the highlights for you from 2030 IN SIGHT LIVE, Singapore?
At the 2030 IN SIGHT LIVE, in Singapore, the IPSIG was able to convene a formal meeting (virtual and in-person) as a part of IAPB for the first time. This opportunity was used to highlight the existence of the IPSIG and to present its first Position Statement ‘Promoting Eye Health Equity for Indigenous Peoples Globally’. This Position Statement has been worked on carefully by the IPSIG over many months and provides the first formal advice of the IAPB in relation to appropriate language and terminology when championing eye health equity for Indigenous Peoples globally, and the key messaging and priorities to promote.
- Indigenous Peoples have the right to ‘determine their own identity and membership’ in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Article 33) and to lead the design, development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of global, national and community eye health norms, policies, strategies, standards and practices as part of their right to self-determination (Article 23).1
- Taking a strengths and rights-based approach to eye health care for Indigenous peoples, championing eye health equity globally must be guided by Indigenous Peoples on the use of appropriate language, terminology, and messaging and aligned to the key priorities of the peoples represented.
- IAPB recommends that the term ‘Indigenous Peoples’ is the most appropriate when championing health equity globally, except where local or regional terminology applies. This respects the heterogeneity of Indigenous Peoples globally and upholds the rights of Indigenous Peoples to representation, voice and self-determination.
Across 2030 IN SIGHT LIVE I felt a real sense that the IPSIG was acknowledged as an important mechanism; and that Indigenous Peoples eye care needs are supported for consideration on the global stage and that the sector more broadly has a role to play in progressing this also.
What do you have in mind for your future plans, particularly anticipating the Mexico event?
The next steps is to continue to convene the IPSIG (virtually) and to build on the network and sharing opportunities.
As the membership continues to grow, it would be amazing to come together in the one place ie convene an in-person event for the IPSIG in 2024. To continue to learn from each other about our different contexts, perspectives and experiences but also think collectively into the future – What’s needed to elevate Indigenous Peoples eye care needs on the global stage? How do we ensure Indigenous Peoples Eye Care and health inequality is addressed on the recent 79th WHA resolution (led by Brazil in May 2023) to develop a Global Action Plan for the Health of Indigenous Peoples by 2026? The work needs to start now, so we need to get engaged in every country where we can.