National Policy Committee Update

Late in 2011, Vision 2020 Australia strengthened its national policy committees’ governance. As their first two-year term comes to an end it is worth reflecting on what has been achieved through collaboration. Each committee aligns with Vision 2020 Australia’s strategic goals and focuses on matters relating to prevention and early intervention, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people or low vision and rehabilitation.

At recent meetings, committee members reflected on the successes and considered the opportunities, challenges and priorities for 2014 and the incoming committees. 

Prevention and Early Intervention Committee (PEIC)

Success! In 2012-13, led by the PEIC, Vision 2020 Australia was instrumental in bringing to life the National Framework Implementation Plan (NFIP), which will ensure that Australia’s National Framework for Action to Promote Eye Health and Prevent Avoidable Blindness and Vision Loss achieves its full potential.

In addition, included in Vision 2020 Australia’s pre-election policy proposal, the Committee advocated for a national eye health survey that will provide universal data on eye health and inform policy makers where eye care and vision services are most needed. 

Priority! In the coming year, it is likely that the Committee’s focus will continue to be on the need for a national eye health survey to provide a current baseline and effectively report the data required and increase advocacy efforts to progress the NFIP and secure commitment from all Australian governments.

Low Vision and Rehabilitation Committee (LVRC)

Success! As part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) public consultations in 2012, the LVRC worked tirelessly on behalf of the eye health and vision care sector to present a united voice to government on the needs of people with vision impairment. Submissions were made to the proposed statements on eligibility and reasonable and necessary support under an NDIS, the draft NDIS Bill 2012, the Regulation Impact Statement and the NDIS Rules Consultation Paper.

Further, the LVRC provided a response to the Home Care Packages Program–Consultation Draft in 2013 recommending that the specific provisions made for people with vision impairment be clearly described. The recommendations made went some way in being incorporated in the final version of the document released by the Department of Health and Ageing.

Priority! The NDIS, NDIS launch sites and advocating for equitable supports for people aged 65 years and over will continue to be key priorities. Additionally, the employment of people with a vision impairment or who are blind is likely to be addressed by the new Committee.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee (ATSIC)

Success! Following endorsement by the Committee of The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision, advocacy efforts focussed on ensuring recommendations from The Roadmap are included in the National Framework Implementation Plan. The Committee also worked on developing and endorsing principles for nationally consistent and funded low cost spectacle and appliances schemes across Australia.

The announcement of $16.5 million in the 2013 Federal Budget to tackle trachoma in Indigenous communities was welcomed. This funding will ensure the important work to eliminate this potentially blinding eye condition will continue.

Priority! The Committee agreed that moving forward the focus must be on key principles of equitable access to quality eye health and vision care services; a focus on outcomes; a commitment to target setting and performance measurement; and an alignment to existing national targets such as those already defined through Close the Gap and National KPI processes.

Vision 2020 Australia acknowledges all committee members for their commitment and valuable contribution to the work of the committees. Members who have nominated to join committees in 2014 have been endorsed by the Vision 2020 Australia Board and a full list of the committees will be available on the website in the new year.