Prevention and Early Intervention Committee

In November 2011, Vision 2020 Australia established the Prevention and Early Intervention Committee to facilitate collaboration among member organisations that are committed to eliminating avoidable blindness through prevention, early detection and intervention in Australia. Its membership is diverse, reflecting a range of expertise and experience. The Committee directly supports the achievement of Vision 2020 Australia’s third goal in the Strategic Plan 2014-17: 

  • To eliminate avoidable blindness and vision loss in Australia through prevention, early detection and intervention, and improved awareness. 

The key activities and concerns of the Committee include identifying ongoing opportunities within the National Framework Implementation Plan (NFIP) and ensuring the progress and completion of the National Eye Health Survey (NEHS).  A representative of this Committee sits on the NEHS Steering Committee which ensures that considerations related to prevention and early intervention are taken into account in the delivery of this landmark survey.

Committee meeting update

On 22 March 2016, the Committee met for the first meeting of the January 2016 to December 2017 term.  Jennifer Gersbeck welcomed members to the first Committee meeting of the term and introduced David Andrews from The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists as the Chair of the Committee.

  • A member feedback survey was completed at the end of 2015 and compared to results from a similar survey completed in 2013. Overall, survey results specific to the Prevention and Early Intervention Committee were positive.
  • A drafted Terms of Reference (ToR), including an additional section regarding co-option was considered and endorsed by the Committee. The ToR will be provided to the Vision 2020 Australia Board for approval in June 2016. 
  • An update on the progress of the National Eye Health Survey (NEHS) was also provided. The Committee noted that the NEHS is on track and due to be complete by 30 June 2016. Depending on the outcome of the 2016 Federal Election timing, it is anticipated the final report and results will be launched in July 2016. 
  • The Committee was advised that discussions regarding a national diabetes blindness prevention program are ongoing. Vision 2020 Australia, Diabetes Australia and the Centre for Eye Research Australia are meeting in late March with representatives of the Primary Health Networks involved in the My Health Record trial sites to discuss whether a diabetes blindness prevention program could be run simultaneously. 
  • An overview of the Vision 2020 Australia 2016 Federal Election campaign noted that the policy platform, Towards 2020: A shared vision of working in partnership for eye health and vision care was finalised and launched 15 February 2016. The Committee was also advised that Vision Summits had been held successfully in February and March with the Australian Greens, the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Government. A summary report will be drafted and circulated in April. 
  • The Committee discussed monitoring effects of the 2014-15 budget cuts on patient access to services. It was agreed that there was an identified need for the sector to discuss the issue more broadly to develop a strong evidence base  and a united position. 
  • The Committee agreed to focus on developing policy and undertaking advocacy in five key areas over the January 2016 to December 2017 term including:  A successor to the 2014-16 National Framework Implementation Plan; Advocacy and next steps following completion of the National Eye Health Survey; Progress towards a national health promotion program, targeting key at-risk areas; Developing a sector position on the budget cuts to Medicare and the impact on access to eye services and implementing a national diabetes blindness prevention program. 
  • Finally, J. Gersbeck advised that this would be her last Committee meeting, thanked members for their commitment and contributions and praised the Committee for its achievements. It was noted that J. Gersbeck will continue to work in the eye health and vision care sector in her new role at the Fred Hollows Foundation.

Key highlights

  • The Australian Government followed up on its $1.126 million commitment to the National Eye Health Survey with an additional $650,000 ensuring the research will be completed. 
  • The Committee contributed to the development of submissions to inquiries related to chronic disease prevention and management in primary health care, electronic health and the national diabetes strategy; ensuring that eye health and vision care remains on the agenda as new policies and frameworks are being developed.
  • In September 2015, representatives of the Committee attended a roundtable meeting with the Primary Health Care Advisory Group Chair and representatives from the Department of Health on the sector’s key concerns regarding chronic and complex care in primary health.

Organisations represented

  • Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia
  • Australian College of Optometry
  • Brien Holden Vision Institute 
  • Centre for Eye Research Australia
  • Glaucoma Australia
  • Guide Dogs Victoria
  • Indigenous Eye Health, Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne 
  • Macular Disease Foundation Australia
  • OneSight Foundation
  • Optometry Australia
  • Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children
  • School of Optometry and Vision Science - University of NSW
  • The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists
  • The Fred Hollows Foundation
  • Vision Australia

Previous Committee meeting updates can be found here.

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