Integral to Vision 2020 Australia’s mission is to advocate for improved eye health and vision care for all Australians. With the announcement of the 14 September Australian federal election, Vision 2020 Australia is developing funding and policy proposals for consideration by the Australian Government and the Opposition. The first proposal finalised: Progressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and vision care lists recommendations the sector would like to see adopted by both sides of politics.
Progressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and vision careseeks an additional capped funding commitment of $67.13 million over three years to close the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and vision care. Importantly, this figure is sought within the context of a five year funding requirement of $90.75 million as outlined in The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision, 2012 (The Roadmap).
Addressing the four conditions responsible for 94 per cent of vision loss can be achieved by strengthening current programs such as the Medical Specialists Outreach Assistance Program (MSOAP) and Visiting Optometrists Scheme (VOS) and integrating eye health into broader health infrastructure such as Medicare Locals and Local Hospital Networks. A focus on coordination through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) and between programs is imperative to strengthen partnerships, enhance referrals and maximise efficiencies.
A second proposal is nearing completion: Progressing Eye Health and Vision Care in Australia calls on the Australian Government to fulfil its international commitments and seeks funding to build on past investments and ensure Australia continues to be a world leader in eye health. This includes the development of a plan to implement Australia’s National Framework for Action to Promote Eye Health and Prevent Avoidable Blindness and Vision Loss (National Framework), hence mirroring efforts at the international level.
Australia’s international obligations establish a mandate for further investment in eye health and vision care. They also require a greater emphasis on adopting a systems-based approach, improving the evidence base and monitoring and evaluation.
The two proposals, prepared by Vision 2020 Australia on behalf of its members, recognise what has been achieved to date, but importantly, identify that more needs to be done towards the elimination of avoidable blindness and reducing the impact of vision loss. The proposals are consistent with the arguments and recommendations from the 2011 Chronic Disease Prevention and Service Improvement Flexible Fund submission, Vision 2020 Australia’s Strategic Plan, the WHA Action Plan 2014-19, The Roadmap, as well as the advocacy platforms of Vision 2020 Australia’s three national policy committees.