The Governor‑General, Her Excellency Ms. Quentin Bryce, AC, CVO has launched the Diamond Jubilee Trust Australia, which will raise money to eradicate avoidable blindness in Commonwealth countries by focusing on trachoma, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
A second initiative of the Trust is to develop the status of young leaders across the Commonwealth through a leadership awards scheme.
The Trust is the Australian arm of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, which was established at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, in 2011. It is intended to “energise the global action plan to end preventable blindness (Vision 2020: the Right to Sight) and eliminate trachoma (GET2020 – the Alliance for the Global Elimination of Blinding Trachoma by 2020)”.
In Australia, the Trust is led by former Governor‑General Major General Michael Jeffery, AC, AO (Mil), CVO, MC. A bi-partisan effort, its ambassadors include former Prime Ministers John Howard OM, AC, SSI and Bob Hawke AC GCL; as well as 2013 Australian of the Year, Ita Buttrose AO OBE.
Officially launched in Canberra on 11 February 2013, the Trust will enable Australian contributors to make tax-deductible donations. This is in addition to contributions made by the state and territory governments and an AUD $5 million contribution by the Australian Government.
In a country with more than 600,000 registered charities competing for financial donations, Mr. Howard said on Channel Nine’s Today Show that it is important to remember the Trust “wont be crowding out organisations – the magnificent Fred Hollows Foundation for example, that does such great work. We’ll be supplementing and helping and working in partnership with, not in competition. We’re not going to establish new infrastructure that duplicates what’s already there.
“The whole idea is to use the resources (that exist… and the) people who are already doing terrific things.”
He said the Trust is, “a practical, humane, passionate way of recognising the extraordinary achievements of the Queen being on the throne for so long… (and a ) practical way of helping people whose lives could be made so much better if they were saved from these terrible (eye) diseases.”
Across the Commonwealth there are 85 million people who are vision impaired. Ms. Buttrose said 80 per cent of those cases could have been avoided. She said the Trust’s work will concentrate on Australia and the Commonwealth “because that’s where we belong and that’s where the Queen has been the Queen”.