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$2 million funding to increase Indigenous spectacles access

08/08/2018By Matthew Woodley
The Federal Government has invested $2 million to increase access to subsidised spectacles for Indigenous Australians.

The one-off funding investment has been allocated to Vision 2020 Australia to allow it to work with state and territory governments to streamline, standardise and improve current schemes. According to the government, the inconsistencies within the various schemes has made it difficult for Indigenous Australians to access affordable glasses.

However, Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt said introducing a nationally consistent system would ensure better access and 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,” Wyatt said.


“We want to remove affordability barriers so Aboriginal people can get glasses when they need them, regardless of where they live.”
Ken Wyatt, Indigenous Health Minister

“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.

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

Optometry Australia (OA) applauded the announcement and said it had been lobbying various governments since 2013 to improve the system.

“Our advice to the government was that improved eye health would play an important role in its Closing the Gap initiative which aims to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” OA CEO Ms Lyn Brody said.

“We argued that this could be achieved through the introduction of a set of principles and recommended standards that could be applied across all jurisdictions to facilitate improved accessibility to optometrists and vision correction services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

New Vision 2020 Australia CEO Ms Judith Abbott also said its members had been actively advocating for the investment, which she said would assist up to 10,000 Indigenous Australians across the country.

“Around 60% of vision loss 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,” Abbott said.

Vision 2020 estimates less than 35% of Indigenous Australians that need glasses are currently receiving them.



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