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Vision 2020 Australia welcomes Government focus on Indigenous eye health

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Vision 2020 Australia congratulates the Hon Ken Wyatt, Minister for Indigenous Health, and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare on the release of the first national report on Indigenous eye health measures following advocacy from the eye health and vision care sector.

Indigenous Eye Health Measures 2016 reports on 22 newly developed measures, covering the prevalence of eye health conditions, diagnosis and treatment services, the eye health workforce and outreach services.

The report also examines differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, as well as differences by factors such as age, sex, remoteness, jurisdiction and Primary Health Network.

Indigenous Eye Health Measures 2016 was released on the same day as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework Report 2017, which documents progress towards better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Carla Northam, CEO of Vision 2020 Australia, says: ‘These reports are an important step towards closing the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, and particularly eye health and vision care.

‘Indigenous Australians suffer from vision impairment or blindness at three times the rate of non-indigenous Australians. We hope these new measures will help to improve the effectiveness of national eye health programs.’

The recommendation for a national report into Indigenous eye health was a key part of the 2015 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sector Funding Proposal, produced by Vision 2020 Australia in collaboration with member organisations.

Ms Northam says: ‘Vision 2020 Australia will release a sector-wide proposal, Closing the Gap in Eye Health and Vision Care by 2020, in the coming days. We look forward to sharing our insights, and those of our members working in Indigenous eye health, with the Australian Government.

‘Along with other important recommendations to improve eye health outcomes for Indigenous Australians, the new proposal will call on the Australian Government to promote more effective national oversight on the issue.

‘We will recommend that the Indigenous Eye Health Measures 2016 report is referred to the Council of Australian Governments Health Council and its advisory body, the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council.’

Collaboration is key to closing the gap

Vision 2020 Australia also applauds the Australian Government’s collaborative agreement with three national health organisations on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Minister Wyatt signed the agreement last week with Vision 2020 Australia member, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, as well as the Council of Presidents of Medical Colleges and the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association.

Ms Northam says: ‘The Indigenous health sector, including eye health and vision care, has a long history of collaboration and using its collective expertise to strengthen health care systems.

‘Government support, particularly through investment and policy change, is a vital component to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

‘This agreement, combined with the recently released reports, has the potential to bring us closer to closing the gap in eye health and vision care by 2020.’

ENDS

For more information: Adam Sawell at Vision 2020 Australia

03 9656 2020, 0401 096 507 or asawell@vision2020australia.org.au

About Vision 2020 Australia

As the national peak body for the eye health and vision care sector, Vision 2020 Australia represents over 50 member organisations involved in: local and global eye care; health promotion; low vision support; vision rehabilitation; eye research; professional assistance; and community support. Established in October 2000, Vision 2020 Australia is part of VISION 2020: The Right to Sight, a global initiative of the World Health Organisation and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.

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