The Minister for Health, The Hon. Greg Hunt MP has today launched the AIHW’s report: Indigenous eye health measures 2020.
The report shows there has been measurable progress towards improving the eye health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and closing the gap for vision.
Some of the positive highlights of the report include:
- There has been an increase in the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People who had an Indigenous-specific eye health check as part of a health assessment from 11% to 29% between 2010-11 and 2018-19.
- The number of Indigenous-specific primary health care organisations that employ or had visiting optometrists or ophthalmologists has increased from 118 (58%) in 2013–14 to 137 (69%) in 2018–19 (AIHW Online Services Report database collection).
However, the report also notes that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are still three times more likely to be blind or vision impaired than non-Indigenous Australians, which highlights that there is more to be done.
Investing in local case management and support, improving access to public cataract and other priority treatments and supporting community led eye care models are some of the immediate priorities for investment that have been identified in Strong Eyes, Strong Communities – a five year plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and vision.
These and the other actions identified in that plan will support expansion of locally responsive and sustainable eye care for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, and in doing so, will help end avoidable blindness across those communities.
Quotes attribute to Chair of Vision 2020 Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee and ophthalmologist A/Prof. Kris Rallah-Baker:
“While there has been a gradual narrowing of the gap for vision, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People are still three times more likely to experience vision loss compared to other Australians.”
“We have seen positive government support for improving outcomes in this area, with support for a range of programs and system changes that have made a real difference, but there is more to be done.”
“It’s also important that alongside expanding service delivery and embedding eye care in broader health care, communities must have a pivotal role in shaping the future eye care they receive.
“That is why investment in local case management, community led models and improving access to public treatment for cataract, diabetes and other key conditions is so important.
“There must be a partnership that allows for self-determination.”
Quotes attributable to Vision 2020 Australia CEO Judith Abbott:
“The eye health and vision care sector have developed Strong eyes, Strong Communities – A five year plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and vision, 2019-2024 to ensure all Australians have the same access to eye care.
“We are thankful for the support this plan has received so far and acknowledge the Morrison Government’s commitment to ending avoidable blindness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.
“The sector is keen to see government now commit to funding some of the priority actions identified in Strong Eyes to help achieve locally responsive and sustainable eye care for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.”
“The eye sector is keen to continue working with communities and the government to end avoidable blindness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.”
Media contact: Ben Jessup 0410 632 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org