CEOs from some of Australia’s leading eye health organisations urged the Coalition to close the gap for vision in Indigenous people at a Vision Summit in Brisbane today which coincides with NAIDOC Week.
More than 40 leading eye health agencies attended the Vision Summit to meet with key members of the Coalition including Peter Dutton Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing and Andrew Laming Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Health Services and Indigenous Health.
Jennifer Gersbeck, CEO of Vision 2020 Australia, told the Coalition there was a significant disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians’ eye health and more funding was needed to make Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health a priority.
“Today the eye health and vision care sector called on the Coalition to commit $53.63 million* over three years to improve Indigenous eye health should they get elected at the upcoming Federal Election,” Ms Gersbeck said.
“Improving coordination and referral pathways and improving accessibility to services is the key recommendation in the sector’s Indigenous eye health pre-election policy and funding proposal to closing the eye health and vision care gap over the next three years,” she said.
“Uncorrected refractive error, cataract, diabetic retinopathy and trachoma are the main causes of vision loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she said.
The Coalition Shadow Minister told the Vision Summit the Coalition would improve Indigenous eye health by reducing red tape, utilising expertise and working with local communities.
NACCHO CEO Lisa Briggs said some 94 per cent of vision loss in Indigenous people is preventable or treatable but 35 per cent of Indigenous adults have never had an eye exam.
*This figure is sought within the context of a five-year funding requirement of $90.75 million as outlined in The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision, 2012 (The Roadmap).
Louise Rudzki at Vision 2020 Australia, (03) 9656 2020, 0414 784 359 or firstname.lastname@example.org