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HomeminewsMember Forum Prioritises Indigenous Eye Care

Member Forum Prioritises Indigenous Eye Care

Vision 20 20 Australia’s sixt h N a tio nal Member Forum discussed in some detail social inclusion a nd the need to close the gap in indigenous eye health. Held in Sydney late July, the Forum was a platform for members to identify key topics and pursue common priorities. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column]

Senator Ursula Stephens, Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector and Senator for New South Wales opened the event and delivered the keynote address:

“We recognise that the raison d’être of both the Sector and Government is ensuring the wellbeing of all Australians, and that when we work in partnership we are more likely to achieve this.”

She said that the work of Vision 2020 Australia was central to the Government’s social inclusion work. “The work you do to stop the unnecessary loss of vision and support those with vision impairment enables people to fully participate in their communities and fulfil their hopes and dreams for their lives,” Senator Stephens added.

Achieving social inclusion will mean that all Australians will have the resources, opportunities and capacity to learn by participating in education and training; participate in employment; connect with people and community resources and have a voice in decision that affect them.

Members heard also from representatives of the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and the Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health on the implementation and evaluation of the ‘National Framework for Action to Promote Eye Health and Prevent Avoidable Blindness and Vision Loss’ (National Framework). New South Wales Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Dr. Andrew McDonald MP, also spoke of NSW eye health and vision care initiatives in relation to the National Framework.

The Forum brought an opportunity for a number of Vision 2020 Australia member organisations from New South Wales to showcase successful eye health and vision care projects. Presentations were heard from Sandra Bailey of the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council; Andrew McKinnon, CEO of Optometrists Association Australia (NSW); Nina Tahhan, from the International Centre for Eyecare Education, Tasha Micheli, from The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists and Barry Stephen, from the Centre for Eye Health.

As part of the Forum, Vision 2020 Australia hosted a social function at the Birrung Gallery in Potts Point with Director of Vision 2020 Australia, Janet Holmes à Court delivering a keynote address about her long-standing passion for Indigenous artwork and her dedication to the eye health and vision care sector. Vision Australia has now released the National Member Forum Outcomes booklet highlighting the key messages and outcomes from the Forum.

Vision 2020 Hosts ALP Fringe Event

On 30 July, Vision 2020 Australia hosted an event as part of the Fringe Program at the Australian Labour Party National Conference – ‘Eye health: what’s your vision?’ This event was hosted by Senator Dana Wortley and included presentations by leading eye health and vision care experts.

Jennifer Gersbeck, Chief Executive Officer, Vision 2020 Australia outlined recent activities and achievements which was followed by Brian Doolan, Chief Executive Officer, The Fred Hollows Foundation who discussed the Australian Government’s Avoidable Blindness Initiative. Mr. Doolan also highlighted the importance of collaboration in achieving positive eye health outcomes for people in the Asia Pacific region.

Dr. Bill Glasson discussed the important role of eye health coordinators in rural Australia and provided insights into the ways restoring sight leads to independence and enhanced quality of life. Robyn McKenzie, Executive Officer of Blind Citizens Australia, finished the presentations with a personal overview of the challenges faced by those with vision impairment and identified ways in which we can achieve a more inclusive society.

The event was attended by leading ALP stakeholders including the Queensland Deputy Premier and Health Minister the Hon. Paul Lucas MP.