Australia’s peak eye health body Vision 2020 Australia has congratulated the Albanese government’s new health ministry team to be led by Minister for Health and Aged Care, The Hon. Mark Butler MP.
Vision 2020 welcomed the expanded and talented team in order to address the reform challenges of the post-pandemic era including Ged Kearney MP, Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care; Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians and Indigenous Health; and Emma McBride MP, Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Rural and Regional Health.
Vision 2020 is also delighted that the NDIS will have its own dedicated minister in cabinet, The Hon. Bill Shorten MP.
Vision 2020 Australia CEO Patricia Sparrow congratulated the new team and said Vision 2020 will seek to remind them of the potential high cost benefit dividend of prioritising equitable and high-quality eye-care access for all Australians immediately.
Ms Sparrow also congratulated The Hon. Linda Burney MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians: “It particularly pleasing to see the Albanese government put First Nations at the front of its agenda. A key priority for Vision 2020 is reducing current inequities in eye health and vision of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples; and supporting their right to self-determination,” Ms Sparrow said.
“In Australia, 90 per cent of blindness and vision loss is preventable or treatable if detected early enough. But we’re way overdue on policy action to ensure early detection and treatment is available equitably for all Australians.
“The time to enact policies that ensure prevention and timely treatment are available for all Australians and that people who are blind or have low vision can get the services they need has well and truly arrived,” Ms Sparrow said.
Vision 2020 Australia is calling on the newly elected federal Labor government and the entire parliament to:
- Provide an additional $65 million to meet the Australian Government commitment to ending avoidable blindness in Indigenous communities by 2025, through full implementation of the Strong Eyes, Strong Communities recommendations.
- Introduce packages for children with vision loss entering the NDIS, similar to those which already exist for children with hearing loss.
- Adopt a National Framework for children’s vision screening to ensure all children have their eyes screened prior to starting school.
- Amend the Broadcasting Services Act to legally require the provision of Audio Description on free-to-air TV.
- Deliver on the election promise to provide $525 million in foreign aid to strengthen regional health preparedness in Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste that can help tackle the blindness crisis in PNG
- Fund ophthalmology staff specialist positions in the public system and develop new and innovative eye health workforce strategies that improve access to, and the timeliness of, cataract surgery and intravitreal injections in regional, rural and remote Australia.
- Implement the Expanded Core Curriculum nationally for students who are blind or have low vision and require universities to comply with accessible information and communications technology (ICT) procurement standards.
The full list of Vision 2020’s asks can be found here: https://bit.ly/3LECxAe
“Currently, vision loss costs the Australian economy $27.6 bn annually. Recent estimates indicate that by 2050, 1 in 2 Australians will require eye care services and the economic costs are about to compound,” Ms Sparrow said.
“Additionally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are disproportionately impacted and experience vision loss at three times the rate of other Australians, accounting for 11% of the health gap.
“We urge the Albanese government to put eye health and support for people who are blind or have low vision on the top of its first term agenda.”
Media contact: 0408 584 439
About Vision 2020 Australia
Vision 2020 Australia is the national peak body working in partnership to prevent avoidable
blindness and improve vision care in Australia and our region. We represent around 45 member organisations involved in local and global eye health and vision care, health promotion, low vision support, vision rehabilitation, eye research, professional assistance and community support. www.vision2020australia.org.au