Eye Care Boost For 106 Remote Indigenous Communities


Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, today announced new or expanded services will be delivered to 106 rural and remote Indigenous communities under a $6.5 million boost to an Australian Government eye health program.

Mr Snowdon said the funding covers costs for optometrists to provide services to many remote Indigenous communities across the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, under the boost to the Visiting Optometrists Scheme. (See list attached).

“This scheme is vital to improve eye health care in remote and very remote Indigenous communities because it will mean we can provide more locations, more visits, and more services.

“We know that the rate of blindness in Indigenous adults is more than six times higher than non-Indigenous Australians and what’s more concerning is that much of this vision loss is preventable,” Mr Snowdon said.

“This work will help pay for more optometrists to travel to communities to do comprehensive eye health checks, which lead to the identification, and treatment where possible, of eye conditions and diseases.

“This will range from identifying problems such as trachoma, which is a contagious bacterial eye infection that can cause blindness, to providing prescriptions for glasses, or referring patients to an ophthalmologist for possible surgery,” he said.

“We know that when people have healthy eyes, this not only increases their confidence, it also gives them more opportunity to participate in education and employment,” Mr Snowdon said.

The first new services under the expanded scheme commenced on 15 April 2010 in Smithton, Tasmania, and others will commence as soon as funding agreements are finalised with participating optometrists. Services will continue to roll out as part of the four year measure.

This additional funding is part of $58.3 million the Australian Government has committed to target the early detection and treatment of eye and ear health conditions amongst the Indigenous population, under the Improving Eye and Ear Health Services for Indigenous Australians for Better Education and Employment Outcomes measure.

Mr Snowdon made the announcement at a Vision 2020 Australia workshop being held in Adelaide today, as he launched a report on the availability and effectiveness of current Indigenous eye health services.

The report, Provision of Indigenous Eye Health Services, was prepared by Professor Hugh Taylor and Emma Stanford of the Indigenous Eye Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population Health at the University of Melbourne.

Mr Snowdon said the report built upon the 2009 National Indigenous Eye Health Survey, that was partly funded by the Australian Government and which had also been undertaken by the Indigenous Eye Unit.

“As the first comprehensive study of its kind in 30 years, it was a wake-up call for all concerned by Indigenous health disadvantage. The Australian Government is committed to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in all areas, including eye health, and we will examine the suggestions generated by the report with interest.”

The report launched today brings together the results of the National Indigenous Eye Health Survey, Medicare data on access to and distribution of current eye health services, a systematic review of the use of retinal photography to detect diabetic eye disease, and national trachoma surveillance data.

The authors plan to use the report to generate policy recommendations to improve the quality and sustainability of eye care services for Indigenous Australians.

Background to Visiting Outreach Scheme

The Visiting Optometrists Scheme currently services 276 locations across Australia and aims to improve the access of people living and working in rural and remote communities to optometric services.

The scheme supports optometrists’ travel, accommodation and meals, facility fees, administrative support, external locum support at the home practice, and the lease and transport of equipment to an outreach location.

In addition, an absence-from-practice allowance will be available to compensate optometrists for ‘loss of business opportunity’ due to the time spent traveling to and from an outreach location to deliver supported services.

Priority locations under the Visiting Outreach Scheme

New services will be established in the bulk of the locations listed below. Those communities not immediately able to be serviced will be targeted for additional service provision in the near future.

State
/Territory
Priority Location
NTAdelaide River
NTAli Curung
NTAlyangula
NTAmpilatwatj
NTAngurugu
NTApatula (Finke)
NTAreyonra
NTBarunga
NTBatchelor
NTBelyuen
NTBeswick
NTBorroloola
NTBulla
NTDaly River
NTDocker River
NTElliot
NTGaliwinku
NTGapuwiyak
NTJabiru
NTJilkminggan
NTKalkarindji
NTKildirk
NTKintore
NTLajamanu
NTLake Nash
NTLaramba
NTLaynapuy Homelands
NTManingrida
NTManyellaluk
NTMataranka
NTMilikapiti
NTMilingimbi
NTMount Liebig
NTMutitjulu
NTNguiu
NTNumbulwar
NTOenpelli
NTPapunya
NTPeppimenarti
NTPirlangimpi
NTRamingining
NTSanta Teresa
NTTi Tree (Anmatjere)
NTTimber Creek
NTTitjikala
NTUmbakumba
NTUrapuntja (Utopia)
NTWadeye
NTWurrawi
NTYuendumu
WABurringurrah
WACoolgardie
WACoonana
WACosmo Newberry
WACue
WAKambalda
WAKaralundi
WAKookynie
WALaverton
WALeinster
WALeonora
WAMeekatharra
WAMenzies
WAMt Magnet
WAMt Margaret
WAMullewa
WAPia Wadjari
WASandstone
WATjuntjuntara
WAWiluna
WAYalgoo
WAYulga Jinna
QldCharters Towers
QldCherbourg
QldChillagoe
QldPalm Island
QldWoorabinda
NSWBalranald
NSWCoolabah
NSWDareton
NSWDeniliquin
NSWEuston
NSWHay
NSWMenindee
NSWMoulamein
NSWPilliga
NSWWeilmoringle
NSWWentworth
NSWWilcannia
SAAmata
SACoober Pedy
SACopley
SAFregon
SAIndulkana
SAMarree
SAMeningie
SAMimili
SAMurray Bridge
SANyapari
SAPika Wiya
SAPipalyatjara
SAPoint Pearce
SARoxby Downs
SAUmuwa
SAWhyalla
SAYalata
VicEchuca
VicLake Tyers
VicMildura
VicOrbost
VicRobinvale
VicSwan Hill
TasNubeena
TasSmithton
TasTriabunna


Tags: Australia  health  eye care  

Distributed by Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources External link (IPIR). IPIR aggregates, indexes, and distributes content on behalf of hundreds of indigenous nations, organizations, and media outlets. Articles, commentaries, and book reviews that do not identify a source are produced or commissioned by IPIR.

Please help support IPIR. Without your support, we cannot continue to provide articles, videos, news, resources, and more on indigenous peoples issues from around the world. IPIR is the largest distributor of news on indigenous issues, and we host one of the largest databases on indigenous issues in the world. Please help support IPIR - any contribution helps, no matter how small.
Find us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Grab our RSS Feed
Find us on Google Plus