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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Alcohol and other drugs knowledge centre Yarning Places

$70 million to 'close the gap' on treatable Indigenous eye health

Date posted: 1 March 2012

Researchers from the University of Melbourne say $70 million over five years could 'close the gap' between the eye health of Indigenous Australians and other Australians.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are currently six times more likely to go blind than the general population and 94 percent of the vision loss is unnecessary, preventable or treatable.

Launched last week (23 Februrary 2012) by the Hon. Warren Snowdon MP, Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, the Roadmap to close the gap for vision (Roadmap) is the first comprehensive framework that aims to ‘close the gap' on Indigenous eye health.

Drawing together more than five years extensive research and consultation, the report was authored by University of Melbourne academics, Professor Hugh Taylor, Melbourne Laureate Professor, and Harold Mitchell, Chair of Indigenous Eye Health, and Andrea Boudville and Mitchell Anjou of the Indigenous Eye Health Unit.

Professor Taylor said there was no reason for Indigenous Australians to go blind unnecessarily and is calling for support from all governments, Federal and State and Territory to fund $70 million over five years to implement the Roadmap.

The Roadmap provides policy advice and costs-estimates to eliminate unnecessary vision loss, addressing primary eye care, refractive services, cataract, diabetic eye disease and trachoma.

The report stresses the assessment of population-based needs, good coordination, performance monitoring and accountability and builds on community consultation and control, the regional delivery of services and the National Health Reforms.

‘I am delighted that Minister Snowdon has launched the Roadmap. We have worked hard and consulted widely to ensure the recommendations are comprehensive and are well supported by the sector and Indigenous community. The Roadmap will facilitate system changes to improve access to eye care and reduce unnecessary vision loss for Indigenous Australians,' Professor Taylor said.

‘The next steps for closing the gap on Indigenous eye health - we hope - is the Federal Government's commitment to the Roadmap and funding its staged introduction,' he said.

Source: The Melbourne Newsroom, University of Melbourne

The Roadmap full report launched at AHCSA 23 February 2012.
Photo L-R: Mitchell Anjou (Poche Research Fellow, IEHU), Justin Mohammed (NACCHO chair), Prof Hugh Taylor AC (Harold Mitchell Chair, IEHU), Hon. Minister Warren Snowdon (Minister for Indigenous Health), Andrea Boudville (Poche Research Fellow, IEHU). Credit: Indigenous Eye Health Unit (Photo by Rachael Ferguson IEHU)


Rebecca Scott
Senior Media Officer
University of Melbourne
Mobile: 0417164791


Last updated: 12 March 2012
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