Eye health identified as rural health priority

Vision 2020 Australia is pleased to see eye health identified in the top ten key health priorities, following the 13th National Rural Health Conference in May. 

The recommendation directly reflects the priorities featured in a joint sector funding proposal on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and vision care, which was presented to the Assistant Minister for Health, Senator the Hon Fiona Nash in April 2015. These priorities were brought to the table for discussion at the conference by key representatives of the eye health and vision care sector, who are working towards closing the gap for vision in Australia.

The recommendations are intended to help improve policies and programs for rural, regional and remote health, and they play a key part in setting the rural and remote health sector's agenda for the next two years.

This year is the first time eye health has been listed as a top ten priority and it is a great achievement for the sector. As part of the recommendation the Commonwealth, state and territory governments are called on to jointly fund an integrated strategy to ‘Close the Gap for Vision’ which should include:  

  • increased funding for visiting optometry and ophthalmology services in areas of need 
  • programs to support local and state-wide coordination and community control 
  • a subsidised spectacle scheme for rural and remote areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities 
  • support for trachoma elimination 
  • funding to support monitoring, reporting and national oversight of the strategy.

Opened by the NT Minister for Health, John Elferink MLA, and the Assistant Federal Minister for Health, Senator Fiona Nash the 13th National Rural Health Conference saw around 1,000 people from across Australia come together to discuss the challenges and successes of health in rural, regional and remote Australia. The eye health and vision care sector was well represented at the conference with a host of eye health presentations, discussions and exhibitor stands.  

Vision 2020 Australia’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, Brandon Ah Tong, attended the conference. Read about what he took out of the conference on The Observatory blog.