Today’s handover of a public amenities building to the Yalata Aboriginal community in South Australia marks the culmination of a two-year program to address the key causes of trachoma.
Trachoma is a bacterial eye infection which can lead to blindness affecting 60 percent* of remote Aboriginal communities in Australia. The good news is that with effective planning and education, improvements in hygiene practices and living conditions can eliminate the spread of trachoma.
Brigadier Susan Coyle will hand over the new amenities building to the Yalata community, representing Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Campbell, AO, DSC. The new building was designed, constructed and funded by the Army.
Through the Australian Trachoma Alliance (ATA), the Yalata community and Tullawon Health Service have implemented the ATA’s Safe Eyes Project to improve eye health and communicable disease outcomes for the Yalata community. The new amenities building forms the most visible part of this initiative.
Major General Michael Jeffery, Chair of the Australian Trachoma Alliance, says: ‘The Safe Eyes program relies upon the effective engagement, ownership and leadership of the community to address hygiene and environmental health factors which lead to the spread of trachoma and other hygiene related disease.
‘In Yalata, Tullawon Health Service, with support from the Army and Australian Trachoma Alliance, has led the development of a community owned, culturally sensitive and sustainable program to eliminate trachoma, with significant changes in public health behaviours resulting.’
Joanne Badke, CEO of Tullawon Health Service, says: ‘The Safe Eyes Healthy Lives program has been a successful platform towards eliminating Trachoma in the Yalata community. The program provides education to the community on hygiene practices, provided hand sanitisation stations throughout community, addresses environmental health barriers, embedded good practices in the community’s child and maternal health program and has given us a brand new public amenities building to service the Yalata community and visiting communities to reduce the spreading of communicable disease.’
With funding secured through the ATA from the Army, Tullawon Health Services oversaw the building of the public amenities building which includes toilet facilities, showers and two club room spaces, all of which will be well utilised by Yalata community members and visiting communities.
‘This has been a huge win,’ says Ms Badke. ‘Not only do the people of Yalata have access to this facility, but they provide culturally appropriate solutions to the spreading of Trachoma.’
*University of Melbourne, The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision, September 2015
For more information:
Wendy Button at Wendy.Button@pmc.gov.au or 02 6232 6008.
About the Australian Trachoma Alliance
The Australian Trachoma Alliance (ATA) is a partnership between the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), Indigenous Eye Health at The University of Melbourne and Vision 2020 Australia