I remember back in 2018 when Australia celebrated the first Indigenous ophthalmologist to be admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO).
I spoke to (now Associate Professor) Kris Rallah- Baker at the time about his journey to date. As one of 20 students of medicine in his year, he said he would not have completed the program without the support of four Indigenous students studying alongside him.
Additionally, he told me, “There is deep set institutionalised racism in a lot of colleges and public hospitals. There was an incorrect assumption amongst other students that I had been accepted at the university because I was Indigenous and, therefore, I was taking the seat of someone more academic. In class, there was the added pressure of being expected to be an expert on the topics of Indigenous health and society.”
He said, while most students had role models and mentors, he had none.
Over the past five years, Assoc Prof Rallah-Baker has worked to turn all of this on its head. And, largely thanks to his advocacy, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmology (RANZCO) and the Australian and New Zealand Eye Foundation (ANZEF), have worked with him.
For this issue of mivision, Assoc Prof Rallah-Baker and Dr Tom Mylne – a proud Gangalu man who was accepted as a 2024 RANZCO trainee in August – write about what has and continues to motivate their careers. Additionally, we hear from RANZCO, ANZEF, and the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association about the wrap-around support being offered to encourage more Indigenous medical students to pursue ophthalmology. As Assoc Prof Rallah-Baker explains, we need around 40 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fellows for population parity; we are currently 1/40th of the way there. Support is required.
Having delved into the collaborative efforts underway to build an Indigenous ophthalmology workforce, we celebrate the 25-year success of eye care services delivered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service eye clinic in partnership with the Australian College of Optometry.
Elsewhere in the issue, we look at treatments for dry eye and geographic atrophy, management of optic neuritis associated with multiple sclerosis, and more. Plus we look at what it takes to design a day surgery and what’s in store for attendees at RANZCO Congress in Perth later this month.
Enjoy the issue.