(L-R) Gavin Bigland, Tricia Keys, Senator Deborah O’Neill and Rowan Churchill in Canberra on Parliamentary Advocacy Day
By Helen Carter
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Working Group of Optometry Australia has met face to face for the first time in Canberra to discuss priority issues in Indigenous eye health.
The group met on 18 October and most of its members also participated in meetings at Parliament House the next day.
Optometry Australia national policy manager Skye Cappuccio said the group discussed several priority issues, including the intended new eye co-ordination function to be undertaken by the jurisdictional fund-holders for the Visiting Optometrists Scheme and how the new VOS arrangements were working.
‘Working group members’ on-the-ground experience is invaluable in these discussions,’ she said. ‘The meeting also progressed some key focal issues, including discussions with Department of Health employees on the potential role of the Commonwealth in facilitating subsidised spectacle schemes that meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.’
Ms Cappuccio said the group aimed to progress work to help ensure that new telehealth MBS items were used in a way that maximised Indigenous access to eye care.
Members of the working group who attended were convenor Gary Crerie and Stephanie Bahler (WA), Rowan Churchill (QLD), Mitchell Anjou and Dr Genevieve Napper (VIC) and Tricia Keys (NSW).
Helen Summers from the Northern Territory joined the group the next day for parliamentary meetings, which some members of the group were unable to attend.
The working group has developed guidelines and principles documents to support the provision of sustainable eye care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, which are available on www.optometry.org.au.