NACCHO Aboriginal Eye Health #CloseTheGap : @Vision2020Aus Launches #Strongeyesstrongcommunities – A five year plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and vision, 2019-2024 : With 24 recommendations to guide implementation

“ Too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still experience avoidable vision loss and blindness, and those who have lost vision often find it difficult to access the support and services they need.”

Now is the time for all governments and all sides of politics to join together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, their organisations and Vision 2020 Australia members to close the gap for vision.

That commitment, coupled with additional funding of $85.5 million over 5 years, will change the lives of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their families and their communities.

We look forward to working together to achieve a world class system that delivers culturally safe eye care to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Vision 2020 Australia CEO Judith Abbott:

The Vision 2020 Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee have been advocating for change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and vision care and should be proud of their work in the formation of the Strong Eyes, Strong Communities report.”

As recommended in the report, embedding eye health and vision care into Aboriginal

Community Controlled Organisations will help ensure the eye needs of Aboriginal and Torres  Strait Islander peoples are met and the gap in vision loss and blindness is closed.

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Deputy CEO Dawn Casey:

Read Over 50 NACCHO Aboriginal Eye Health articles published in past 7 years

Vision 2020 Australia, the peak body for the eye sector, is calling for action to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People have the same access to eye care as other Australians.

The newly released Strong eyes, strong communities – A five year plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and vision, 2019-2024 sets out a plan to achieve this goal.

Download the 55 Page The Five Year Plan 2019 – 2024 and Summary 24 Recommendations 

CLICK HERE for NACCHO Resources 

Most vision loss can be avoided or prevented through early identification and treatment, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience three times the rate of blindness and vision loss than non-Indigenous Australians and often wait much longer for treatment.

For example, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are currently waiting 63% longer on average for cataract surgery than non-Indigenous Australians.

Strong Eyes, strong communities describes what needs to be done to close this gap for vision and ensure eye problems in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are prevented wherever possible and treated early if they do develop.

Vision 2020 Australia has made 24 recommendations to implement the plan, which will require new funding of $85.5 million over the coming five years.

This funding will deliver more eye care services and glasses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, support them to access the care they need and support the elimination of trachoma by 2020.

Vision 2020 Australia is also recommending other actions to improve overall planning and local pathways, strengthen the role of local community controlled services and increase access to specialist treatment

Key stats on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s eye health

  • Cataract is the leading cause of blindness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and is 12 times more common than for non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wait on average 63% longer for cataract surgery than non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Almost two-thirds of vision impairment among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is due to uncorrected refractive error – often treatable with a pair of glasses.
  • One in 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults is at risk of Diabetic Retinopathy, which can lead to irreversible vision loss.
  • Australia is the only developed country to still have Trachoma, found predominately in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

 

 

Aboriginal #Eye Health NEWS : NACCHO and @Vision2020 Welcomes @GregHuntMP and @KenWyattMP major investment to provide approx. 18,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with easier access to affordable prescription glasses

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have three times the rate of vision impairment and blindness as compared to non-Indigenous Australians.”

“This is totally unacceptable, especially when almost two-thirds of impaired eyesight can be corrected by prescription glasses.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the investment would allow Vision 2020 Australia to work with state and territory governments to streamline, standardise and improve their schemes that provide subsidised glasses to First Nations people

Photo above NACCHO File : Brien Holden Vision Institute with Edwina at Danila Dilba ACCHO Darwin

“To help achieve equity of access to subsidised glasses, Vision 2020 will work with governments to ensure their schemes align with eye health principles developed by Optometry Australia and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.

“These principles have been supported by Aboriginal Health Forums conducted across the nation.”

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM

Under some State and Territory schemes at the moment, only a third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people needing glasses are actually receiving them.

We need to do what we can to provide cost-certainty and affordable access to prescription spectacles for our people.”

Dr Dawn Casey, Acting Deputy CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and Chair of the Vision 2020 Australia policy committee for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health also welcomed the investment

Read over 40 Aboriginal Eye Health articles published by NACCHO over past 6 years 

Part 1 Program Puts Better Vision for First Nations People in Sight

The Turnbull Government has committed $2 million to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with easier access to affordable prescription glasses.

Welcomes @GregHuntMP and @KenWyattMP major investment to provide approx. 18,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with easier access to affordable prescription glasses.

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM said introducing a nationally consistent system to simplify and ensure better access to affordable glasses would significantly improve people’s vision and overall quality of life.

“Not only does poor vision adversely affect a person’s general wellbeing, it can be a significant barrier to education and employment, and can restrict a person’s mobility and social interaction,” said Minister Wyatt.

“The cost of prescription glasses often deters Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from visiting an optometrist to have their sight checked.”

“This can also delay detection of other serious vision-threatening conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma.”

A trial to improve the provision of prescription glasses in the Kimberley and Pilbara areas of Western Australia yielded positive outcomes, including improved patient medication compliance and greater independence.

Vision 2020 Australia was established in 2000 and has an experienced board including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives.

The Turnbull Government’s 2018-19 Budget included an additional $3 million to extend First Nations eye health activities, on top of an existing $31.3 million commitment to eye health activities

Part 2 New investment in spectacles for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people welcomed by Vision 2020 Australia

Vision 2020 Australia welcomes the Australian Government investment of $2 million to increase access to subsidised spectacles for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The one-off funds have been allocated to Vision 2020 Australia to work with the Australian Government to encourage State and Territory Governments to enhance the existing arrangements for subsidising the cost of spectacles.

Vision 2020 Australia CEO Judith Abbott said: “Our members have been actively advocating for this investment that will help make spectacles more affordable for up to 10,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across our country.”

“Around 60 per cent of blindness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is due to issues that can be corrected with glasses, so this is a very positive step. We look forward to working with the government as part of Vision 2020 Australia’s ongoing commitment with our members to reduce blindness and vision loss.”

Minister for Indigenous Health the Hon. Ken Wyatt said: “While subsidised spectacle schemes exist in all Australian states and territories, the existing schemes vary and in some cases, have limited impact in overcoming barriers to access.

This new investment is being provided to encourage State and Territory Governments to work with Vision 2020 Australia to establish a nationally consistent approach to spectacle subsidies.”

“We want to remove affordability barriers so Aboriginal people can get glasses when they need them, regardless of where they live

NACCHO Aboriginal #EyeHealth : 10 Recommendations to improve eye health services in remote Aboriginal communities.

 eyes

” According to data from the 2016 National Eye Health Survey (NEHS), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have a greater burden of eye disease, with three times the rate of blindness and three times the rate of vision loss than the non-Indigenous population.[1] Uncorrected refractive error causes almost two thirds of vision impairment, and cataract is the leading cause of blindness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Vision 2020 Australia welcomes the opportunity to provide comment to the Productivity Commission (the Commission) regarding its Inquiry into introducing competition and informed user choice into human services (the Inquiry).

Download this full submission here :

vision-2020-australia_productivity-commission_reforms-to-human-services_feb17_final-rtf

Vision 2020 Australia’s response to the Inquiry predominantly relates to improving outcomes in relation to eye health services provided in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Additionally, almost 40 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who need cataract surgery have not accessed specialised treatment services (compared to 13 per cent of non-Indigenous Australians), and approximately half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants with diabetes were found not to be having an eye examination at the frequency recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

The eye health and vision care sector supports the principle put forward by the Australian Government that refers to introducing informed user choice in these communities. However, the sector has identified a number of challenges posed by the principle of introducing competition in the provision of eye health services in remote communities; due to issues such as the fragmented or duplicated delivery of these services.

In the following submission, Vision 2020 Australia outlines ten recommendations which, if implemented fully, would ensure that eye health and vision care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are improved through better access to effective and reliable services.

Note all 10 recommendation are in this submissions

Recommendation 8

That ACCHOs are offered fair opportunities to compete with non-Indigenous health organisations during competitive tendering processes.

Vision 2020 Australia notes that, in the context of eye health in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, reforms intended to introduce greater user choice and competition do not necessarily result in positive outcomes. For example, in remote areas, increased competition when providing outreach services can in some cases lead to fragmented service coordination. Vision 2020 Australia therefore contends that mechanisms and approaches to introduce greater competition, contestability and user choice need to be carefully considered.

In remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities delivering services collaboratively and in partnership with ACCHOs, and ensuring that the communities are consulted and involved in the design of policies and programs that impact them, is integral.

Furthermore, Vision 2020 Australia notes that the 2015 Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee inquiry into the impact on service quality, efficiency and sustainability of the Commonwealth Indigenous Advancement Strategy tendering found that competitive tender processes disadvantage ACCHOs and do not fully take into account their value and expertise.[1] It is therefore vital that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations are offered fair opportunities to compete with non-Indigenous organisations.

[1] “Commonwealth Indigenous Advancement Strategy tendering processes,” Parliament of Australia, accessed February 14, 2017. http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Finance_and_Public_Administration/Commonwealth_Indigenous.

Vision 2020 Australia

Vision 2020 Australia is the peak body for the eye health and vision care sector, representing around 50 member organisations involved in: local and global eye care; health promotion; low vision support; vision rehabilitation; eye research; professional assistance and community support.

This submission has been developed in collaboration with the Vision 2020 Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee (the Committee).

The Committee provides a platform for members to collaborate and shape the direction of Vision 2020 Australia’s systemic advocacy related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and vision care.

The Committee supports and promotes The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision (the Roadmap), developed by Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne, and works closely with the National Aboriginal and Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and its affiliates to ensure its strategies are consistent with priorities identified by Aboriginal Medical Services providers in States and Territories.[2]

Vision 2020 Australia supports the submissions put forward by our member organisations, namely Indigenous Eye Health and The Fred Hollows Foundation.

Vision 2020 Australia notes that, in the context of eye health in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, reforms intended to introduce greater user choice and competition do not necessarily result in positive outcomes

. For example, in remote areas, increased competition when providing outreach services can in some cases lead to fragmented service coordination. Vision 2020 Australia therefore contends that mechanisms and approaches to introduce greater competition, contestability and user choice need to be carefully considered.

In remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities delivering services collaboratively and in partnership with ACCHOs, and ensuring that the communities are consulted and involved in the design of policies and programs that impact them, is integral.

Furthermore, Vision 2020 Australia notes that the 2015 Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee inquiry into the impact on service quality, efficiency and sustainability of the Commonwealth Indigenous Advancement Strategy tendering found that competitive tender processes disadvantage ACCHOs and do not fully take into account their value and expertise.[1] It is therefore vital that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations are offered fair opportunities to compete with non-Indigenous organisations.

[1] “Commonwealth Indigenous Advancement Strategy tendering processes,” Parliament of Australia, accessed February 14, 2017. http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Finance_and_Public_Administration/Commonwealth_Indigenous.

Summary of recommendations

Vision 2020 Australia has ten recommendations which, if implemented fully, would ensure that eye health and vision care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are improved through the provision of better access to effective and reliable services.

Recommendation 1
That the Australian Government allocates additional funding to address existing barriers to accessing specialist eye health services in rural and remote areas.
Recommendation 2
That the Australian Government undertakes capacity building for ophthalmic telehealth services.
Recommendation 3
That the Australian Government modifies existing IT infrastructure in remote facilities catering to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health to facilitate efficient and effective telehealth services.
Recommendation 4
That the Australian Government facilitates the introduction of electronic patient record systems targeted for use in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with linkages to the broader health system.
Recommendation 5
That the Australian Government provides funding for additional staff trained in the provision of eye health services for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Recommendation 6
That the Australian Government regularly reviews and provides ongoing funding to the Visiting Optometrists Scheme (VOS).
Recommendation 7
That Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are consulted and involved in the design of policies and programs that impact them.
Recommendation 8
That ACCHOs are offered fair opportunities to compete with non-Indigenous health organisations during competitive tendering processes.
Recommendation 9
That governments ensure that the Aboriginal community controlled sector is a key player in the delivery of culturally safe health services.
Recommendation 10
That services provided to remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are integrated and coordinated so as to ensure an effective patient pathway where comorbidities can be effectively assessed and treated.

 

[1] Foreman, J., et al, 2016, The National Eye Health Survey Report 2016, The Centre for Eye Research Australia and Vision 2020 Australia, Melbourne.

[2] Taylor HR, Anjou MD, Boudville AI, McNeil RJ, 2013, The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision, Indigenous Eye Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population Health,The University of Melbourne

NACCHO Eye Health: Vision 2020 Q&A with Lisa Briggs CEO NACCHO

lisa

In the fourth interview of our Q&A series Vision 2020 Australia talks to The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation’s (NACCHO) CEO, Lisa Briggs, about Investing in Healthy Futures for generational change: NACCHO 10 Point Plan 2013-2030, comprehensive primary health care and the people who have inspired her during her career.

Ms Briggs (pictured above) has a wealth of experience in the field of Aboriginal health, predominantly within the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector.

Q1) Ms Briggs, as you know, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a burden of disease 2.5 times higher that of other Australians, as well as lower health and life expectancy rates.Can you explain the role of NACCHO in improving Indigenous health in Australia?

NACCHO is the national authority on comprehensive Aboriginal primary health care with a membership base of over 150 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.  NACCHO’s role is to provide national, high level and strategic direction and advice to inform all policies which impact Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Q2) NACCHO recently released the Investing in Healthy Futures for generational change: NACCHO 10 Point Plan 2013-2030, what are the goals that guided the development of this plan?

In 2008, NACCHO was one of the leading key stakeholders to sign up to the flagship document Close the Gap Statement of Intent.  NACCHO was also a key member of the national Close the Gap Committee which developed a set of key targets which later formed the CoAG CTG measure of reducing child mortality rates and increasing the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  While the NACCHO 10 point plan is clearly built upon with these foundational documents, the NACCHO Plan has been designed specifically to address the long term strategic focus of our Affiliates and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services sector through to 2030.

The Plan’s goals are aligned to existing targets and measures with the flexibility to adapt and monitor over time.  The goals are also reflective of NACCHO principles and our sector’s commitment to holistic health care – not just service delivery.  The NACCHO 10 point plan provides a clear framework for NACCHO, the Affiliates and our member services to utilise as an accountability tool to ensure that we are able to reach our targets through to 2030.

The NACCHO 10 point plan can be accessed here.

Q3) Do you support the World Health Organisation’s view that comprehensive primary health care instead of a disease focused approach is central to achieving health benefits? Can you explain why?

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector philosophy is based upon the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) definition of comprehensive primary health care.   Therefore, the design and implementation of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health services focuses upon achieving holistic health benefits rather than simply addressing the task of reducing disease.  Recently NACCHO launched its inaugural “Healthy Futures for generational change” – Report Card which demonstrated the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services model of service and delivery has been able to achieve a 66% reduction in Child Mortality with an overall reduction of overall mortality by 33%.  This evidence suggests the best practice model of service to achieve health gains is to be found within the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services sector

Q4) With the Federal Election looming, what key eye health / health messages do you want the Australian Government and the Coalition to take notice of and commit to?

NACCHO is seeking support for the development and adoption of a range of Eye Health Targets for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people which will form an important part of the existing Closing the Gap reporting to Parliament delivered by the Prime Minister.

Q5) NACCHO advocates the need to provide Aboriginal people ownership of their own health at a local community level; can you explain why this important?

NACCHO’s principle philosophy of Aboriginal Community Control is founded upon a rights based model which ensures Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the right to determine our own holistic health needs as well as the service delivery systems and models to address them.  Please refer to the NACCHO website for more information on what community control means across the health sector.

Q6)Ms Briggs, what inspired you to work in the area of Aboriginal health and whathas been a highlight for you in your role as NACCHO CEO?

There are so many people who have inspired me to work in Aboriginal health over my life!  Here are just some of them:

Aunty Alma Thorpe Victorian Elder – the longest servicing CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal health service in Melbourne.  Aunty Alma’s incredible passion for the rights of her people put me on the path that I am on today.  Her daughter Glenda Thorpe was an Aboriginal health worker who treated me when I was 12 years old when I had never been treated in a clinic by an Aboriginal person before. I felt very proud. From that day on, I wanted to be like her and do what she does: helping her own people.

Culturally, my mother and father provided me with the teaching and learnings along my life journey that provided me with an identity, connection to my homelands and a strength and sense of belonging that builds a strong foundation. My parents instilled in me the knowledge and practice of keeping myself socially and emotionally well.  They also gave me a sense that anything was possible!

Professor Hugh Taylor, the eminent Australian ophthalmologist, has shown me how non-Indigenous Australians are able to work effectively with commitment and passion alongside Aboriginal people resulting in significant gains for the whole of Australian society.

When Aiden Ridgeway became the leader of the Democrats, I was both proud and inspired.  This was a crucial moment for me in Aboriginal history and a testament that we as a Aboriginal people can be at the head of political parties.  Since then we have seen more Aboriginal people in Parliament.  I consider Aiden to be a trail blazer as he worked against all the odds through intense commitment and made me think that passion and drive can get you there in the end.

I also have to mention Aunty Naomi Mayers, the CEO of Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service, who established the first Aboriginal Medical Service in the country. NACCHO now has 150 members, and it all started because this remarkable woman decided she had seen enough of her people dying younger and getting sicker because of their lack of access to comprehensive primary health care.

Finally, I have been CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Heath Organisation (NACCHO) for just less than 12 months and am passionate about the huge impact Aboriginal people can have if they control their own health outcomes.

Q7) And finally, on a personal note, can you tell us something that most people don’t know about you / or would be surprised to know about you (it could be a hobby, non-work related achievement or something similar!)

I am a Gunditjmara Aboriginal woman from the western district of Victoria and readers may be interested to know that I am an Aboriginal Health Worker by trade and have worked in the health field for the past 25 years, predominantly within the Aboriginal community controlled health sector.

My mantra is ‘nothing stops me!’

NACCHO urges call to action this World Sight Day: get your eyes tested!

 NACCHO Media release for World Sight Day 11 October 2012

NACCHO urges call to action this World Sight Day: get your eyes tested!

Today is World Sight Day, a global day with the specific aim of increasing awareness of avoidable blindness and vision loss – the causes, prevention and rehabilitation.

The theme for World Sight Day 2012 is prevention.

In Australia 75% of vision loss is preventable or treatable but for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people this figure rises to 94%.

Despite this staggering percentage, 35% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have never had an eye test.

Alarmingly blindness rates are 6.2 times higher and vision impairment 2.8 times higher for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult population in comparison to the wider Australian community.

NACCHO is urging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to get their eyes tested to Close the Gap for vision.

 Ms Lisa Briggs, incoming CEO of NACCHO and Chair of the Vision 2020 Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee comments “While all Australians need to be proactive in managing their eye health, the statistics indicate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to be particularly vigilant.”

 “Regular eye tests have a significant role in preventing avoidable blindness and vision loss and can have a profound impact on a person’s quality of life.”

 It is a simple take out message.

An eye health DVD, Our Eyes Our Journey, funded by The Fred Hollows Foundation and developed by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation in collaboration with NACCHO, Oxfam and Vision 2020 Australia promotes key eye health messages and can be viewed on the NACCHO website

View this DVD here:

Ms Briggs is encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to go to the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet for further information about eye health issues and resources.

The website can be viewed at http://www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au/

Jennifer Gersbeck, CEO of Vision 2020 Australia said NACCHO is a critical voice in the prevention of avoidable blindness and vision loss. 

 “As the peak body for Aboriginal health, NACCHO is well placed to promote key preventive messages.” 

 

For interviews with Lisa Briggs please contract: Colin Cowell 0401 331 251