Glaucoma Australia (GA) is set to extend its reach and capacity to eliminate glaucoma-related blindness after announcing Governor-General Mr David Hurley will become patron of the charity.
The high-profile appointment follows a successful invitation by GA CEO Ms Annie Gibbins and the organisation’s Ophthalmology Committee, with a view to raising the profile of Glaucoma Australia and its campaign among the general population.
“At a time when multiple worthy causes are vying for His Excellency’s invaluable patronage, we sincerely thank the Governor-General for becoming patron of Glaucoma Australia,” Gibbins said.
“The biggest thing for us now is not just to have the Governor-General’s patronage, but to use his incredible support to extend the reach of our campaigns.”
Gibbins said GA’s early campaigns targeted people with a family history of the disease. While they have been effective in driving people with glaucoma to ‘tell their family to get tested’, this is not the only risk factor.
GA subsequently widened its campaign this year to focus on other risk factors, including people over the age of 50, and higher susceptibility among African and Asian populations.
“Our risk campaigns are going well, and we are having exponential growth in referrals, which is exciting, but we want to get through to the average person in the community,” Gibbins said.
“The Governor-General, who has a national media following, is keen to have an active role, which is great. He’s happy to put out videos and social media and to help us extend our reach. It’s early days, but it really does allow Glaucoma Australia to influence at a higher level to get our message out there.”
The Governor-General said he was “delighted” to become patron of GA.
“Since being founded in 1988, Glaucoma Australia has increased community awareness of glaucoma, supported patients and their families and funded critical research. This is an important mission and their impact has been significant,” Hurley said.
“The hard work of those involved, their supporters and the researchers they fund and collaborate with has directly helped hundreds of thousands of Australians. I look forward to being involved and working with them as patron.”
GA president Associate Professor Simon Skalicky added: “This is an exciting time for Glaucoma Australia. As we have moved digitally, we are connecting with more glaucoma patients and their families, as well as health professionals.
“Digitally integrating the support services of Glaucoma Australia through online referral pathways ensures greater support is provided to people with glaucoma at every step along the journey, in metropolitan, rural and regional Australia.”
He added: “Ideally we aim to integrate our service better with health care providers to enhance the likelihood that patients access our resources and community support, which in turn motivates long-term adherence to medication and monitoring for glaucoma.”