The standard and availability of health services of Aboriginal Australians will be considerably improved with the official opening of Sydney’s first purpose-built Aboriginal Health College.
More than 300 guests attended the dual opening at Little Bay in Sydney’s East late February, showcasing 80 graduate students completing courses including: Eye Care Competency, Community Services, Cultural Awareness, Aboriginal Health Work – Community and Clinical, Frontline Management and Business, Alcohol and other Drugs, and Workplace Training and Assessment.
Through the college, Aboriginal health professionals will provide a greater role in improving the health care of its communities, tackling key areas of eye problems, hearing loss, asthma, diabetes, and improving life expectancy rates.
The college has received funding from NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs, The Institute for Eye Research, Landcom, with further funds provided from the Department of Education, and Employment and Workplace Relations.
Professor Brian Layland, Director of the Aboriginal Vision programs for the International Centre for Eyecare Education (ICEE), which runs eye health courses at the college, said it will have a lasting effect on these services being more accessible to Aboriginal communities. He cited while it worked in “closing the 17 year (life expectancy) gap that exists between Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal Australians,” further funding was needed to keep the program running.
Those speaking at the opening included: the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Paul Lynch; Chair of AHMRC, Christine Corby; CEO of ICEE and the Institute for Eye Research Professor Brien Holden; and CEO of AHMRC and the Aboriginal Health College, Sandra Bailey.
The Aboriginal Health College dedicated their auditorium by unanimous vote to Professor Brian Layland. At the launch Prof. Layland was surprised, as were his colleagues who were also not aware of the honour and said “it’s an enormous privilege and I am truly humbled”.