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In May 2011, the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (OATSIH), Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, provided project-specific funding to the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet to develop and expand the eye health web-pages. This funding is in addition to the core funding for the website provided by OATSIH.
The expansion of the Eye health includes the development of the Eye health (EyeInfoNetwork), an electronic yarning place that provides opportunities for a range of users working in the area of eye health to share information and knowledge of relevance to their work. You can join the Eye health yarning place here.
The National Indigenous eye health survey, conducted in 2008 by the Indigenous Eye Health Unit at the University of Melbourne, demonstrated that the burden of eye disease faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was disproportionate and a result of complex interplay between a large number of medical, social and cultural factors.
The 2008 survey was the first, comprehensive attempt at data collection on eye and vision health in Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population since 1980 and the reporting that occurred under the National trachoma eye health program. The 2008 survey demonstrated that:
These statistics pinpoint a significant gap in service provision, particularly in rural and remote Australia, where problems like trachoma are especially severe. Australia is the only developed country in the world to still have endemic blinding trachoma. For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, poor access to appropriate and culturally safe services is compounded by geographical isolation, economic disadvantage, and prevalence of a large number of other health problems (such as chronic diseases).
Development and implementation of policies and services that counter the eye and vision health burden in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities depends on access to relevant, up-to-date and credible information and research. The role of the Eyehealth section is to provide a wealth of information related to eye and vision health for audiences that include all people interested and working in the field.
The Eye health section's function of knowledge transfer in the form of peer-refereed reviews, background information on eye and vision health generally, and plain-language material may be of particular interest and importance to policy-makers and program managers who require access to easy-to-understand information based on rigorous scholarship and internationally renowned research.
Development of this web resource and the associated yarning place is guided by a national reference group. The EyeInfoNet Reference Group, comprising people working as practitioners, and/or researchers in the area of eye health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, provides advice on:
Members of the original EyeInfoNet Reference Group were:
Professor Neil Thomson (Chair) (deceased)
Professor Neil Thomson was the founder and Director of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet.
Professor Hugh Taylor AC
Professor Hugh Taylor AC is a Melbourne Laureate Professor and holds Harold Mitchell Chair of Indigenous Eye Health and leads the Indigenous Eye Health Unit at the University of Melbourne. He was the Professor of Ophthalmology and Head of Department at the University of Melbourne from 1990 until 2007, and the Managing Director of the Centre for Eye Research Australia which he founded in 1996. Professor Taylor is a passionate advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health; his research focuses on the causes and prevention of blindness in both developing and developed countries the intersection between medicine, public health and health policy. In 2001, Professor Taylor was made a Companion in the Order of Australia for his contributions to the prevention of river blindness, to academia through research and education related to the prevention of eye disease, and to eye health in Indigenous communities.
Ms Anna Morse
Anna Morse's first four years upon graduating (2005-2008) were as a clinical optometrist in Alice Springs, Northern Territory (NT) where she also worked with the outreach ophthalmology clinics to Central Australian and Barkly Region communities one day per week. Since 2009, Anna has worked with International Centre for Eyecare Education ICEE), in the NT Aboriginal Eye Care Program. This involves providing and facilitating optometry services to many remote community health centres and Aboriginal Medical Services across all regions of the NT.
ICEE partners with Regional Eye Health Coordinators (REHCs) and Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS') in both the NT and NSW to deliver eye care services that are effective, accessibly and appropriate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. ICEE also provides training in eye health for REHCs, Aboriginal Health Workers and other primary health care staff (e.g. GPs and nurses), to up-skill them in eye health knowledge and skills required for earlier detection of and timely referral of eye and vision problems in their communities and health centres.
Ms Barbara O'Connor
Ms Barbara O'Connor is a Noonuccal woman from North Stradbroke Island. She works as a Regional Eye Health Coordinator with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service at Woolloongabba and outreach across South East Queensland. Barbara initially worked in social welfare, but her focus has been eye health for the past 20 years and she brings a wealth of experience in eye health services to her role.
Ms Genevieve Quilty
Ms Genevieve Quilty is Acting CEO with the Optometrists Association Australia (OAA). Genevieve support's the Association's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Working Group and is the Association's representative on V2020 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee. Genevieve is a member of the Indigenous and Remote Eye Health Service Taskforce, as well as being appointed to the Australian Government's National Advisory Committee for the Visiting Optometrists Scheme; and also sits on the and the Government's Eye Health teams for Rural Australia. Before joining the OAA she spent 11 years working for the Australian Government in a range of senior policy roles. She has qualifications in law and political science from Australian National University.
Dr Angus Turner
Dr Angus Turner is a Western Australian ophthalmologist currently working at Fremantle Hospital. He completed medical training at the University of Western Australia, before studying at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He is actively involved in delivering services to remote and Indigenous communities in the state, with a particular focus on the Kimberley and Pilbara regions. He also works on a number of research projects at the Lions Eye Institute, focusing on service delivery for remote and Indigenous people.
Mrs Joanna Barton
Mrs Joanna Barton a Coordinator of the Outback Eye Service, which delivers ophthalmology and optometry services to remote western NSW, working out of the Department of Ophthalmology at Prince of Wales Hospital. She has lived and worked in the Bourke District as a diabetic educator/ophthalmic nurse for many years and maintains a passion for working in Aboriginal and rural communities.
Dr David Scrimgeour
Dr David Scrimgeour works as a Public Health Medical Officer with the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia, and as a Adjunct Associate Professor with the Discipline of Public Health at the University of Adelaide. He is a trained general practitioner and public health practitioner, and a recipient of the Order of Australia medal for services to medicine through the delivery and development of services and programs in remote Indigenous communities and public health research.
Dr Jenny Hunt
Dr Jenny Hunt has worked in Aboriginal health for the past 20 years, including in public health, research and clinical practice in the community-controlled sector around Australia. She is currently a Public Health Medical Officer with the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW, involved in a broad range of public health topics, including as a member on the NSW Public Health Care Research Capacity Building Program.
Mr Shaun Tatipata
Mr Shaun Tatipata is an Indigenous Australia Program Senior Eye Health Project Officer with the Fred Hollows Foundation. He has many years of experience in Indigenous eye health, including as the Eye Health Coordinator in the Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin.