This week, Federal MPs heard how Australia is “leading the world” in advocating for eye health care at an event to celebrate the World Report on Vision, recently released by the World Health Organization.
The Parliamentary Friends Group for Eye Health and Vision Care event, held on Tuesday 26 November 2019 in Parliament House’s Mural Hall, saw MPs come together with key sector leaders to celebrate the release of the ground-breaking report, and hear how it relates to the work of the eye health and vision care sector in Australia.
Keynote speaker, IAPB CEO Peter Holland, shared key findings from the report and described 2020 as a critical year for getting eye health on the agenda. He encouraged all countries to commit to implementing recommendations included in the report, with Australia playing an integral role in global advocacy efforts.
The report found globally there are more than 2.2 billion people with a vision impairment. Of those at least 1 billion people have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be treated.
Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, and Assistant Trade and Investment Minister, Mark Coulton, and Shadow Health Minister Chris Bowen both spoke in support of the aspirations of the report, confirming the strong bi-partisan support for eye health in Australia.
A highlight of the event was a light-hearted question and answer session styled after the ABC show You Can’t Ask That – with audience members able to engage with panellists who are blind or vision impaired to learn more about their experiences, both in Australia and overseas.
Closing the night’s formalities, Vision 2020 Australia Board Chair and former Senator Amanda Vanstone, observed that much had been achieved in the past 20 years, but the World Report on Vision tells us that there is still much more to be done.
She encouraged governments, the community and all Australians to think of 2020 as the year for vision, describing the upcoming 12 months as a “big year” for all of us working in the sector, and commending the collective efforts of the sector as part of a “civil society” working to achieve common goals.
Thank you to the Co-Chairs of the Parliamentary Friends Group Andrew Laming MP and Meryl Swanson MP, and to sponsors The Fred Hollows Foundation, Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Optometry Australia and The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmology.