Parliamentary event celebrates Indigenous health community’s impact on eye care

Federal MPs have heard first-hand about the positive impact community-based Indigenous health service workers are having in closing the gap between the eye health and vision of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those of non-Indigenous Australians.

The Parliamentary Friends Group on Eye Health and Vision Care event, held on Monday 10 September 2018 in Parliament House’s Mural Hall, saw MPs from across the aisles and both houses, come together with key sector leaders to hear of the challenges and opportunities in this critical area of Indigenous health.

Hosted by Co-Chairs of the Parliamentary Friends Group Andrew Laming MP (Liberal) and Meryl Swanson MP (ALP), the event highlighted the firm bi-partisan commitment which exists on the goal of closing the eye-health gap for Indigenous Australians.

Meryl Swanson and Andrew Laming host the Parliamentary Friends GroupVision 2020 CEO Judith Abbott welcomed guests by acknowledging the considerable work being done across the country by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, which are emerging as a critical link in the delivery of primary eye care.

Keynote speaker Indigenous Health Minister the Hon. Ken Wyatt praised the many sector partners working to address eye health in Indigenous communities, and encouraged these organisations to “leave capacity on the ground” as part of their program delivery as building a network of expertise make a real difference to long-term health outcomes.

The Hon. Warren Snowdon, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Health, confirmed his strong ongoing commitment to this policy area. Mr Snowdon also highlighted the need to address housing and other community conditions as key factor in preventing vision loss, as well as other health challenges faced by those living in regional and remote areas.

The event provided an opportunity for guests to engage in an interactive Q and A session with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services workers from across Australia, who were seated at each table.

Introduced by Dr Dawn Casey, Vision 2020 Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee Chair and Deputy CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), the frontline Indigenous workers were able to talk about their on the ground experience in working with local communities, what works well, and where we need to do more or work differently.

Closing the night’s formalities, Vision 2020 Australia Board Chair and former Senator, the Hon. Amanda Vanstone, remarked on the positive, collegial tone of the event – evoking the late John McCain to encourage a continued partnership across the aisle to improve the eye health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

View an album of photos from the event on our Facebook page.

For further information about this event please contact Vision 2020 Australia on 03 9656 2020 or