NACCHO Eye Health News : Fred Hollows Foundation partners with Aboriginal community Controlled Health sector for workforce initiative

TFHF Cadetship_L-R Brian Doolan (TFHF) John Brumby (TFHF) Lauren Hutchinson (student) Gabi Hollows (TFHF) Adrian Carson (IUIH)

We know that 94 per cent of vision loss among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is preventable or treatable, yet more than one-third of adults have never had an eye exam,

“We think having Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as health professionals will reduce this figure – there really is a point of difference when it’s an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person looking at your eyes, or taking care of your health,”

Jaki Adams-Barton, Manager of the Indigenous Australia Program at The Fred Hollows Foundation, said the new Workforce Initiative is key to filling the gap for Aboriginal health professionals in eye heath

“We have a great team here at IUIH and Lauren will have the ability to connect with a number of health professionals, giving her a more holistic look at the patient journey. She will experience first-hand the eye health conditions that affect our people here in south-east Queensland, including the huge impact diabetes is having on the eyes,”

Adrian Carson, CEO, Institute of Urban Indigenous Health, says Lauren will be able to expand her clinical knowledge during her time with the organisation.

A new $40,000 partnership between The Fred Hollows Foundation and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) will provide optometry student Lauren Hutchinson with hands-on experience in communities in Brisbane in October, and the chance to visit rural communities in south east Queensland later on.

Photo caption: L-R: Brian Doolan (CEO, The Fred Hollows Foundation), John Brumby (Chair of Board, TFHF), Lauren Hutchinson (student), Gabi Hollows (Board Member, TFHF), Adrian Carson (CEO, IUIH)

Ms Hutchinson holds a Bachelor in Visual Science and is a Masters student in optometry at the Queensland University of Technology. A Wiradjuri woman, she was born in Molong NSW and attended St Joseph’s Primary School and Molong Central School (for High School).

Ms Hutchinson will spend three months training with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector, learning on-the-job and through mentoring with the IUIH Regional Eye Health Unit and optometry clinics, as part of a team working in a multidisciplinary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisation.

Optometry is a great career that can really make a difference to people’s lives, Ms Hutchinson said. “I’m really looking forward to working with IUIH. It will be such an invaluable opportunity to get some practical experience working with people in their local areas, as well as chance to work alongside some of the leading professionals in Indigenous eye health,” she said.

The Workforce Initiative will support practical placement across the IUIH’s 17 eye health clinics in optometry services and the ophthalmology clinic. As part of the program, Ms Hutchinson will learn about service delivery in rural and remote parts of Queensland.