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(L-R) Victorian Health Minister David Davis, chairwoman of the Vision Initiative steering committee Sheila O’Sullivan, optometrist Angeliki Arvanitis, and CEO Vision 2020 Australia Jennifer Gersbeck   Photo: Les O’Rourke, Vision 2020 Australia

Angeliki Arvanitis, a bilingual optometrist of Greek heritage, has been recognised as an Eye Health Hero for her service to the community of Darebin in Melbourne.

Ms Arvanitis has been providing eye-care services to the culturally and linguistically diverse Darebin community for 20 years.

Darebin is one of four local government areas participating in the Vision Initiative Pilot Project to support at-risk Victorians to have a regular eye examination. Greater Geelong, Greater Shepparton and Latrobe are also part of the project. They have been identified as having a higher proportion of people who are more at risk of blindness and vision loss.

On World Sight Day, the Vision Initiative introduced new materials to help educate culturally and linguistically diverse communities in these four local government areas about eye care and optometric services.

Ms Arvanitis was speaking at the launch of the new materials that have been produced in Arabic, Cantonese, Greek, Italian, Mandarin and Vietnamese, with the assistance of a government grant.

Vision Initiative manager Dee Tumino said $75,000 had been allocated to the development of an eye health multimedia resource to overcome the barriers to eye examinations for these groups.

The funding has been used to develop six short videos to explain the role of eye health professionals and the importance of regular eye examinations in six different languages. The first, in Cantonese, was screened at the launch.

The multimedia resources aim to demystify eye health for those who speak Italian, Greek, Arabic, Vietnamese, Mandarin or Cantonese.

To help break down language barriers, information sheets, brochures and posters have also been produced in six languages to highlight the importance of eye examinations and good health care.

‘All participating optometrists, GP practices and pharmacies in the Vision Initiative Pilot Project areas (Darebin, Greater Geelong, Greater Shepparton and Latrobe) will receive a multicultural kit. This kit will include the multi-media clips, posters, brochures and a sample of the translated information sheets,’ Vision Initiative health promotion officer Sarah Zerbib explained.

‘We will also be informing Victorian pharmacies, GP practices and optometrists, via trade media and newsletters, that multicultural kits can be ordered from the Vision Initiative team.

‘All information sheets, audio recordings and multimedia clips will be available to access from the Vision Initiative website,’ she said. ‘I’ve lived in Darebin all my life. My parents are Greek and they speak Greek at home,’ Ms Arvanitis said. ‘The need for these resources is real for me and my family.

‘I have a list of Greek patients waiting to see me. Darebin’s Greek community knows me or knows of me, and that makes them more comfortable to make an appointment for an eye examination,’ she said.

Victorian Health Minister David Davis spoke at the launch. ‘These are an important set of resources that will make a difference to culturally and linguistically diverse communities,’ he said.

Mr Davis noted that nearly 30 per cent of Victorians who spoke a language other than English at home had never had an eye examination, according to the 2008 Victorian Health Population Survey.

The Vision Initiative, launched by Victorian Health Minister David Davis on World Sight Day last year, is managed by Vision 2020 Australia and funded by the Victorian Government.

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