Image by Dean Saffron; courtesy of Brien Holden Vision Institute
By Rhiannon Riches
A $2 million investment in subsidised spectacle schemes is a big win for optometry and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, says Optometry Australia’s CEO Lyn Brodie.
Lyn said Optometry Australia has led a sustained advocacy campaign since 2013 to standardise subsidised spectacles schemes that have historically varied from state to state and territory.
‘Optometry Australia has been leading advocacy on this issue for some time, and has worked with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) on joint lobbying,’ she said.
‘We’ve really pushed, and more recently we’ve been saying the government won’t succeed in “Closing the Gap” unless people get glasses,’ she said.
Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, and Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, have listened, jointly announcing on 3 August that the Turnbull Government has committed $2 million to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with easier access to affordable prescription glasses.
Optometry Australia’s Facebook and Twitter feeds lit up with support when the breaking news was shared on 3 August.
‘Through the work of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Working Group, we have formally approached the government multiple times to raise concerns about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and the lack of cohesion around, in particular, subsidised spectacle schemes operating throughout Australia,’ Ms Brodie said.
‘Although operating in all jurisdictions throughout Australia, existing schemes are inconsistent in their approach and not always achieving the best outcomes,’ Ms Brodie said.
‘Our working group developed a set of principles and standards which were supported by NACCHO. These form the basis of the work going forward.’
Vision 2020 is charged with implementing the new program on behalf of the sector.
Minister Hunt said the investment would allow Vision 2020 Australia to work with state and territory governments to streamline, standardise and improve their schemes that provides subsidised glasses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Ms Brodie thanked the working group chaired by Western Australian optometrist, Gary Crerie.
Optometry Australia has issued a Media Release.
View our Principles for nationally consistent subsidised spectacle schemes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.