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Record donation to BHVIF for Indigenous eyecare

27/03/2019By Myles Hume
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An anonymous donor has donated $225,000 to the Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation (BHVIF) – the single largest donation in the organisation’s history.

The money will fund optometry training scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who are already, or aiming to become, eyecare providers in regional areas of Australia.

BHVIF Board chair Ms Sandra Bailey said: “We are tremendously appreciative of this donation. Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation is committed to supporting sustainable access to primary eye care and improved eye health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and this donation will greatly support this mission.”

Sandra Bailey, new BVHI director
Sandra Bailey, new BVHI director
“There is a significant disparity in eye health between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians and I am very proud to announce that these scholarships are a priority of the Foundation.”
BHVIF Board chair Sandra Bailey

According to the latest Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) annual report, in 2017/18 just 11 registered optometrists identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. This represents 0.2% of the 5,532 optometrists in Australia. Comparatively, Indigenous people make up approximately 3% of Australia’s total population.

The number of Indigenous optometrists has remained consistently – and disproportionately – low for at least the past six years, with just seven (0.2%) identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2013, five (0.1%) in 2014, 16 (0.3%) in 2015 and 13 (0.3%) in 2016.

The figures are collected via a voluntary survey during the renewal of AHPRA registration process.

Bailey added: “There is a significant disparity in eye health between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians and I am very proud to announce that these scholarships are a priority of the Foundation.”

The donor – who asked to remain anonymous – has requested the funds be distributed over the next three years.

 

More reading:

Human eye growth stages uncovered by Australian researchers
BHVI launches Global Myopia Centre

 

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