NACCHO Aboriginal Eye Health World Sight day news: AFL player Patrick ‘Paddy’ Ryder calls on Australians to get their eyes tested

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Indigenous AFL player Patrick ‘Paddy’ Ryder calls on Australians to get their eyes tested

Indigenous eye health in focus on World Sight Day

AFL Indigenous Ambassador and Essendon player Patrick Ryder is joining with peak health bodies Vision 2020 Australia and NACCHO in the lead up to World Sight Day to urge Australians to look after their sight. 

NACCHO is a partner and supporter of the AFL Indigenous ALL starts tour of Ireland 

The ruckman’s call is particularly important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have an increased risk of eye disease and vision loss.

Press launch

When: Tuesday, 8  October at 1pm

Where: Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS) 186 Nicholson Street Fitzroy,
Melbourne.Why: The ruckman’s call is particularly important for Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander people who have an increased risk of eye disease and vision
loss.

Who: VACCHO representative Kulan Barney will be on hand to discuss Indigenous
eye health as well as Vision 2020 Australia’s CEO Jennifer Gersbeck

Vision 2020 Australia CEO Jennifer Gersbeck said: “In Australia, 75 per cent of vision loss is preventable or treatable. This figure increases to 94 per cent among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and yet 35 per cent of Indigenous adults have never had an eye exam.”

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“Blindness rates in Indigenous adults are six times higher, and vision impairment nearly three times higher, than that of the wider Australian adult community,” Ms Gersbeck said.

“Being an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man, the higher rates of eye disease in our communities is concerning,” Paddy Ryder said.

“This World Sight Day, I am encouraging Australians from all walks of life to get their eyes tested but particularly Indigenous Australians,” he said.

“Closing the gap for vision is very important and I hope that by getting my eyes tested today I will encourage others to do the same.”

There are four main conditions which account for the majority of vision impairment and blindness in Indigenous Australians: refractive error, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and trachoma.

With the diabetes epidemic sweeping across the world, diabetic retinopathy is a growing concern among Indigenous people.

“Indigenous Australians are three times more likely to have type two diabetes compared to non-Indigenous Australians. This number of people with diabetes is even higher for those Indigenous Australians living in remote areas,” Ms Gersbeck said.

“From the 37 per cent of Indigenous adults who have diabetes, 13 per cent have already lost vision but, importantly, 98 per cent of blindness from diabetes is preventable or treatable with early detection and timely treatment,” she said.

Trachoma is a major blinding infectious eye disease caused by poor hygiene, and can be treated with surgery and antibiotics.

 “Despite falling rates, trachoma still affects around 60 per cent of outback Indigenous communities. But with continued efforts, I believe this disease can eventually be eliminated,” Ms Gersbeck said.

“Australia is the only developed country in the world where the debilitating eye disease trachoma is endemic.”

Closing the gap on eye health for Indigenous Australians is important for many reasons. Vision loss and blindness in Indigenous Australians contributes to other health and social problems, including depression, an inability to manage everyday life, and a vicious cycle of disadvantage and poverty.

“A critical part of improving eye health for Indigenous Australians is to improve access to comprehensive eye care and health services.”

Lisa Briggs, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation said: “I am proud to currently chair Vision 2020 Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee which is made up of the key players across our eye health sector. Together we are working to address many of the system-level issues that limit the delivery of quality eye health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians – issues that have been identified in the Roadmap to Close the Gap for  Vision published by the Indigenous Eye Health Unit, University of Melbourne”. 

“At the moment, for example, the Committee is finalising a nationally consistent spectacle scheme to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have access to affordable spectacles wherever they live across the country.”

About Vision 2020 Australia

Vision 2020 Australia is the peak body for the eye health and vision care sector. See www.vision2020australia.org.au Follow us at @Vision2020Aus or #WSD2013

 

About National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

NACCHO is the national authority in Aboriginal primary health care – Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands. See www.naccho.org.au/

 

About World Sight Day

World Sight Day is World Health Organisation an annual day of awareness to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. It will take place this year on Thursday 10 October.  More information at www.worldsightday.org.au

 

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NACCHO as the national authority in comprenhesive Aboriginal primary health care currently has a wide range of job opportunities in the pipeline.

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NACCHO eye health news : Indigenous eye health put on Coalition’s agenda

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Pictured: Selwyn Button, Lisa Briggs, Jennifer Gersbeck, Desley Culpin and Hugh Taylor

CEOs from some of Australia’s leading eye health organisations urged the Coalition to close the gap for vision in Indigenous people at a Vision Summit in Brisbane which coincides with NAIDOC Week.

More than 40 leading eye health agencies attended the Vision Summit yesterday to meet with key members of the Coalition including Peter Dutton Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing and Andrew Laming Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Health Services and Indigenous Health.

Jennifer Gersbeck, CEO of Vision 2020 Australia, told the Coalition there was a significant disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians’ eye health and more funding was needed to make Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health a priority.

“Today the eye health and vision care sector called on the Coalition to commit $53.63 million* over three years to improve Indigenous eye health should they get elected at the upcoming Federal Election,” Ms Gersbeck said.

“Improving coordination and referral pathways and improving accessibility to services is the key recommendation in the sector’s Indigenous eye health pre-election policy and funding proposal to closing the eye health and vision care gap over the next three years,” she said.

“Uncorrected refractive error, cataract, diabetic retinopathy and trachoma are the main causes of vision loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she said.

The Coalition Shadow Minister told the Vision Summit the Coalition would improve Indigenous eye health by reducing red tape, utilising expertise and working with local communities.

NACCHO CEO Lisa Briggs said some 94 per cent of vision loss in Indigenous people is preventable or treatable but 35 per cent of Indigenous adults have never had an eye exam.

*This figure is sought within the context of a five-year funding requirement of $90.75 million as outlined in The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision, 2012 (The Roadmap).

For more information: Louise Rudzki at Vision 2020 Australia on

(03) 9656 2020, 0414 784 359 or lrudzki@vision2020australia.org.au

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