CEO eBulletin – December 2014

Welcome to the last edition of the Vision 2020 Australia eBulletin for 2014


Message from our Patron

Vision 2020 Australia Patron, the Hon Dr Barry Jones AC

Check out Dr Barry Jones’ video message watch now.
Download the transcript here

Table of contents


Paralympian Jessica Gallagher joins Board

The new-look Vision 2020 Australia Board met on Friday for the first time since the Annual General Meeting last month and officially welcomed Paralympian Jessica Gallagher in her new role as Board Member.

Jess who is a practising Osteopath, won a bronze medal at both the 2014 Sochi and 2010 Vancouver Paralympic Games in downhill alpine skiing events and competed in the 2012 London Summer Paralympic Games in athletics. She is legally blind and is currently training for the 2016 Paralympics in cycling.

Recently appointed Chair, the Hon Amanda Vanstone, who was officially elected as Board Member at the AGM after being co-opted in March, said Vision 2020 Australia was pleased to have representation from people living with vision impairment on the Board. Ms Vanstone congratulated Professor Hugh Taylor and Amanda Davis who were re-elected to the Board at the AGM and also thanked CEO of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Dr Graeme White for his valuable contribution as Board Member over the past six years.


Members formally respond to NFIP

In September, Vision 2020 Australia received the exciting news that the Federal Minister for Health, the Hon Peter Dutton, had endorsed the National Framework Implementation Plan for Action to Promote Eye Health and Prevent Avoidable Blindness and Vision Loss 2014-16. Since then, Vision 2020 Australia and its members have been working on developing a formal response to the Plan.

Following are the eight recommendations submitted to the Australian Government this week:

  1. Vision 2020 Australia recommends that the Australian Government consults with the eye health and vision care sector and works in collaboration to ensure that funding and support is directed into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and vision care programs that are proven to be effective.
  2. Vision 2020 Australia recommends that the Australian Government directly aligns the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan Implementation Plan with the National Framework Implementation Plan during the development process.
  3. Vision 2020 Australia recommends that the Government considers the eye health and vision care sector’s recommendations in the development process of the National Diabetes Strategy, as well as funding support for the Diabetes Blindness Prevention Program that will be proposed in 2015.
  4. Vision 2020 Australia recommends that the Government undertakes a review of the National Chronic Disease Strategy, in consultation with Vision 2020 Australia and the eye health and vision care sector; particularly to consider a section on eye disease and the importance of prevention, early detection and effective control of chronic eye conditions.
  5. Vision 2020 Australia recommends that the Government provides further financial support, ensuring that the landmark National Eye Health Survey continues to completion and that comprehensive data on eye disease and eye health and vision care service provision in Australia is available and representative of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians.
  6. Vision 2020 Australia recommends that the Government reviews and includes an eye health and vision care indicator in the Primary Health Network performance frameworks, in light of the National Framework Implementation Plan’s focus on primary care in eye health and vision care, specifically: The number and percentage of the population aged >=40 years who have had a primary eye health examination; disaggregated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people with diabetes.
  7. Vision 2020 Australia recommends that the Community Care and Population Health Principal Committee (CCPHPC), through Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC), is tasked with establishing a national oversight function to guide stakeholder partnerships, set priorities, monitor progress and outcomes, and ensure clear direction across all parties in the eye health and vision care sector, ensuring clear and effective implementation of the National Framework Implementation Plan.
  8. Vision 2020 Australia recommends that a process for the inclusion of state and territory responsibilities should begin through the CCPHPC, directed by AHMAC, to build on the National Framework Implementation Plan, ensuring the inclusion of all state and territory priorities.


Amanda Vanstone leads global funding delegation

Chair Amanda Vanstone led a delegation made up of Vision 2020 Australia’s Jennifer Gersbeck and Brandon Ah Tong, and members of the Global Consortium Regional Plan Steering Committee, at the end of November to discuss a new global funding proposal with senior executives from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

The proposal sets out an ask of $93.4 million over four years, broken down over three interconnected thematic areas─health service delivery, human resource development and health systems strengthening─to reduce avoidable blindness and vision loss in the Indo-Pacific region. The proposal identifies the Vision 2020 Australia Global Consortium as the innovative mechanism for eye health and vision care program delivery, and carefully positions eye health and vision care in the new aid paradigm.

While the conversation was informative it also highlighted the challenges that the sector faces in the tightening foreign aid environment. Following the announcement of further aid cuts on Monday and growing competition for the aid dollar due to the Australian Government prioritising funding for infectious diseases such as the Ebola Virus, the sector has a tougher task on its hands.

The funding proposal has been presented to the office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop and discussions with the Minister’s office and DFAT will continue in the New Year.

The Vision 2020 Australia Federal Budget proposal is available for download in PDF and word.


Vision 2020 Australia’s first corporate member

Vision 2020 Australia is pleased to announce that pharmaceutical company Novartis will join the Vision 2020 Australia membership.

Novartis’ membership application was approved at the Vision 2020 Australia Board Meeting last week, officially opening membership to corporates for the first time in Vison 2020 Australia’s history.

The Board’s decision to broaden membership to include corporates has been rigorously debated over the past year and its introduction will be carefully managed to ensure it benefits members and the Vision 2020 Australia cause. 

The Board has also agreed that corporate membership will only be offered at the principal level.

Vision 2020 Australia views the opening up of membership to the private sector as an opportunity to unite the broader eye health and vision care sector as a whole and strengthen our collective voice with Government.  

Vision 2020 Australia looks forward to the mutual benefits that this relationship offers; the opportunities to share knowledge, information, skills and experience as well as working together to gain consensus across its diverse membership to influence policy development and advocacy initiatives.


National Eye Health Survey update

Activity is progressing well on the National Eye Health Survey (NEHS), following the commitment of $1.126 million by the Federal Government in June.

The survey has been outsourced to Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) and the NEHS Steering Committee has been convened, comprising Vision 2020 Australia as the executive sponsor; CERA as the executing research body; elected sector representatives from each of Vision 2020 Australia’s National Policy Committees; major contributing partners Luxottica, Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Optometry Australia; as well as representatives from the Department of Health.

Following is an update of the activity that has been conducted to date:

  • The Steering Committee has endorsed the Project Plan, which was subsequently accepted by the Department of Health on 26 September 2014.
  • The draft of the NEHS manual has been completed. This includes screening, recruitment, testing protocol, equipment and sampling methodology.
  • All equipment has been tested and stored.
  • Sampling sites have been selected and mapped.
  • CERA has begun consultation with Luxottica and Optometry Australia to determine sites for data collection. OPSM will provide facilities at 80 per cent of the selected sites and the remaining will be provided by Luxottica as Onesight pop-up eye clinics.
  • Recruitment and training of two research assistants has been completed and recruitment of two optometrists is underway.
  • Support from Royal Flying Doctors Service has been offered and the exact in-kind contribution will be defined in the near future. Support will be provided for recruitment in regional and rural areas.
  • The development of a customised database for data collection and retention is complete.
  • Ethics applications to the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital have been approved.


Members’ survey shows progress

A recent Member Survey demonstrates Vision 2020 Australia has listened to what its members have to say about the work it does and the result is that members are pleased with the progress that has been made.

After analysing the results of the 2014 Member Survey and comparing them with the 2011 Survey, it is clear that the work Vision 2020 Australia has done over the past three years has proved popular with the membership.

In particular, improvement was seen in Vision 2020 Australia’s performance in advocating for increased funding for eye health and vision care with a 15 per cent increase in satisfaction rate since 2011. Lobbying government for policy change on behalf of the sector also increased from 69 per cent in 2011 to 79 per cent in 2014.

Members also say they appreciated the fundamental importance of Parliamentary Friends Group events in achieving these endeavours and value Vision 2020 Australia leveraging access to key government contacts when doing so.

The survey is an opportunity to gain insight into how Vision 2020 Australia can continue to support members effectively and more work will be conducted throughout 2015 to further understand members’ needs in order to better represent them in advocacy efforts.

The Member Survey results are available for download in PDF and word


Leadership focus of next PFG

A date has been set for the next Parliamentary Friends Group event. The exclusive dinner will be held on Monday, 16 March in Canberra and an invitation will be sent to members early next year.

The theme for the event will be ‘Leaders from Within’ and will focus on emerging leaders who are making a difference to eye health, the sector and their communities.

Following on from Vision 2020 Australia’s enormously successful September event, the night promises to be an opportunity to hear a range of personal, moving and inspiring stories and a chance to network with key members of Parliament.

Due to a limited number of tickets available, members are encouraged to RSVP quickly to secure a spot.


Vision 2020 Australia meeting schedule 

For more information on key dates for Board meetings, committee meetings and other important dates on the Vision 2020 Australia calendar download the meeting schedule here.  


Christmas office closure

The Vision 2020 Australia office will close on 24 December and will reopen on 5 January 2015. Vision 2020 Australia would like to wish you all a happy and safe festive season.