Senator Carr said the government was committed to helping our closest neighbours respond to the issue of avoidable blindness, announcing funding for the Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation and Sight for All Limited to host three Australia Awards Fellowship programs. These organisations will receive $254,000 in total for three fellowships under the latest round of Australia Awards Fellowships to support the professional development and eye health skills of 20 fellows from across the region, including Fiji, Cambodia, India, Laos, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan and Vietnam, Senator Carr said. The fellowships provide short-term study and professional-development opportunities in Australia for senior officials and mid-career professionals from developing countries. The government will also provide $750,000 to the Fred Hollows Foundation over the next two years to expand its long-standing and valuable avoidable blindness work in Laos. The national rate of blindness in Laos is around one per cent and the rate in rural areas is estimated to be up to five-times higher. This Australian support will include the delivery of primary eye-care, training for nurses, eye doctors and ophthalmologists, as well as provision of equipment for testing and surgery.