Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee report for the year ending 30 June 2021

Chair: A/Prof Kris Rallah-Baker

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee advocates for equitable eye health and vision care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It strongly supports the Australian Government’s committee to end avoidable blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by 2025, and continues to collaborate across the sector, with community organisations and with government to help achieve this goal.

The full Committee met twice over the 2020-21 year, with associated working groups meeting a further 19 times over the period to progress specific work priorities. The Committee continues to increase its focus on approaches that strengthen opportunities for the input and leadership of community in the area of eye health and vision, and over the reporting period a range of actions to support implement of Strong Eyes, Strong Communities were progressed, including:

  • Development of submissions in related areas (two standalone submissions were made to the Australian Government Productivity Commission’s Draft Indigenous Evaluation Strategy and Department of Health’s Revised Outreach Service Delivery Standards and Reporting Template) along with contributions to a further five cross-committee submissions to Department of Health’s Medical Research Future Fund, Treasury, and the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability and the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
  • Continued work on the National Subsidised Spectacle Scheme project (NSSS), with around 6,000 additional pairs of glasses delivered at 30 June 2021 and other project milestones achieved
  • Developmental work to support the collection of data regarding community priorities for eye health vision through establishment of the PrioritEYES project, which will be accompanied by a community led priority setting process.
  • Release of commissioned research, initial political engagement and other activities to advocate for increased access to public cataract surgery.
  • Advice to the Australian Government in relation to outreach program standards and associated matters

I was also pleased to represent Vision 2020 Australia at the ministerial launch of the Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing’s Indigenous Eye Health Report 2020, joining Minister Greg Hunt, Prof Hugh Taylor and other distinguished speakers at the event.

Alongside the committee members (listed below), I would also like to thank the members of the Strong Eyes Implementation Working Group, the NSSS Project Group and others who participated in workshops and other activities to inform the work of the Committee.

Members and Proxies

  • Kris Rallah-Baker – IDEAS Van (Chair)
  • Abe Ropitini – Guide Dogs Victoria
  • Andreas Mueller – Centre for Eye Research (CERA)
  • Angus Turner – Lions Eye Institute
  • Anita Mills – RANZCO
  • Annette Clarke – Guide Dogs NSW/ACT
  • Belinda Ford – NSW School of Optometry and Vision Science
  • Bethia Sullivan – Guide Dogs NSW/ACT
  • Cesar Carillo – Sight For All
  • Chris Lee – Diabetes Australia
  • Chris Rektsinis – AHCSA
  • Christine Stott – Lions Eye Institute
  • Colina Waddell – Brien Holden Foundation
  • Danielle Thorburn – Orthoptics Australia
  • Dee Hopkins – Macular Disease Foundation Australia
  • Dawn Casey – NACCHO
  • Gwyn Low – Guide Dogs Victoria
  • Hugh Taylor – Indigenous Eye Health Unit, University of Melbourne
  • Jane Schuller – Orthoptics Australia
  • Jenni Bliss – Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital
  • Jennifer Merryweathe – The Fred Hollows Foundation
  • Jeremy Anderson – Guide Dogs NSW/ACT
  • Jess Styles – NACCHO
  • Jodie Cox – Vision Australia
  • Kezia Blackledge – Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW
  • Khoa Nguyen – Guide Dogs Victoria
  • Legend Lee – RANZCO
  • Louise Carter – Novartis
  • Lyndall De Marco – IDEAS Van
  • Maureen O’Keefe – Australian College of Optometry
  • Mitchell Anjou – Indigenous Eye Health Unit, University of Melbourne
  • Noela Prasad – VACCHO
  • Nosa Omokaro – RANZCO
  • Peter van Wijngaarde – Centre for Eye Research (CERA)
  • Piers Carozzi – Australian College of Optometry
  • Rowan Porter – IDEAS VAN
  • Sabine Ostrowski – Macular Disease Foundation Australia
  • Sandra Cappuccio – NACCHO
  • Sarah Davies – Optometry Australia
  • Sarah Nicholls – Brien Holden Vision Institute
  • Shana Quayle – Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW
  • Shaun Tatipata – The Fred Hollows Foundation
  • Simone Kenmore – The Fred Hollows Foundation
  • Skye Cappuccio – Optometry Australia
  • Susan Forrester – VACCHO
  • Tracy Siggins – Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital
  • Wayne Hogan – OneSight
  • Wendy Chin – OneSight