1 August 2018, Sydney, Australia: We are pleased to announce the Australian Government has provided a further $2.5 million for retinal cameras and training.
The program supported by this funding extension is the Provision of Eye Health Equipment and Training, co-led by Brien Holden Vision Institute and the Australian College of Optometry, working with the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia, Centre for Eye Health, and Optometry Australia. It is currently rolling out retinal cameras, training and support for the health services in a total of 105 sites across Australia, and the program’s expansion will enable close to 150 cameras to be rolled out by June 2020.
This is wonderful news for Indigenous eye health as it means many more communities, across all states and territories in Australia will receive this helpful equipment, as well as training and mentoring for primary health care professionals who will be using the equipment, to support basic screening for diabetic retinopathy within primary care settings.
Continuing the momentum already generated by the consortium-led program over the last year, the project aims to increase rates of annual retinal checks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with diabetes, via the MBS item 12325 Retinal photography with a non-mydriatic retinal camera.
In addition, the program extension also will fund the design and delivery of a new educational course aimed at embedding the retinal cameras into existing health services. This will include workshops with General Practitioners, health service managers and other associated staff playing a role in integrating the new process into their practice.
Mitasha Yu, Regional Director for Asia Pacific, Brien Holden Vision Institute spoke on the benefits of the program and the Government’s continued commitment. “We are greatly pleased we have an extended opportunity to make further inroads towards addressing the inequalities in eye care that exist within Australia. At community level, our focus is firmly on ensuring the provision of cameras and our training is translating into skill uptake, enabling greater empowerment for participants to work more effectively on the ground,” she said.
Colina Waddell, Project Manager for Australia for the Institute, also spoke. “We found that all participants attending the course were satisfied and they felt it met their expectations. Most also thought it increased their confidence and abilities. We found almost all of the participants, nearly 99%, agreed that the course was challenging and interesting. We are grateful for the Commonwealth Government’s continued support and focus on embedding retinal photography as part of primary care for patients with diabetes.
Maureen O’Keefe, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian College of Optometry also welcomed the additional support. “The commitment of the Australian Government to improving equity of eye health access and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can clearly be seen in this funding extension for the Provision of Eye Health Equipment and Training program, with the total funding of $7.3M enabling provision of retinal cameras and training across Australia. The embedding of this program in a sustainable way at community level continues to be the highest priority as the program is implemented.”
Click here to view the interactive map or more information on the progress of the Provision of Eye Health Equipment and Training program.
Editors notes on the consortium
Brien Holden Vision Institute, Public Health (formerly the International Centre for Eyecare Education) is a global non-profit, non-governmental organisation. In the last seventeen years, the Institute has delivered sustainable eye care services, education and training programs in more than 50 countries. The Institute is focused on the elimination of uncorrected vision impairment and avoidable blindness by developing eye care solutions within communities in most need, thereby improving opportunities in education, employment and quality of life. Public Health, is supported by Optometry Giving Sight and exists within the Institute as one organisation.
The Australian College of Optometry (ACO) is a not for profit organisation dedicated to preserving sight and preventing blindness through clinical service provision, research and education. It is Australia’s leading provider of public health optometric eye care to disadvantaged communities. The ACO administers the Victorian Eyecare Service, funded by the Victorian Government to provide eye care and subsidised glasses to people in need across Victoria. The ACO operates a network of clinics and provides outreach optometry services in Victoria, and parts of NSW and SA
Optometry Australia is a not-for-profit organisation established in 1918 and is considered the influential voice for the optometry profession. It is a profession-centric membership body representing about 90 per cent of Australian optometrists. The goal of Optometry Australia and its affiliated state-based membership bodies is to actively strengthen, protect and promote the profession of optometry and eye-health, on behalf of all optometrists.
Centre for Eye Health (CFEH) is an initiative of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and the University of New South Wales. It is Australia’s first eye-care facility to offer an extensive range of advanced eye imaging and visual system diagnostic services to the general community, at no charge to the patient or the referring professional. By providing a comprehensive range of tests in one location, CFEH aims to reduce preventable blindness by identifying eye disease before irreversible vision loss occurs.
The Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA) is a membership-based state peak body for community controlled Aboriginal health in South Australia. With a leadership, watchdog, advocacy and sector support role and a commitment to Aboriginal self-determination, it represents the expertise, needs and aspirations of Aboriginal communities at regional, state and national levels based on a holistic perspective of health. The AHCSA’s core operations include direct coordination and delivery of some secondary health care services, a range of community health and education programs, and ongoing member support in advocacy, governance, accreditation and capacity building. As a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) the AHCSA delivers culturally appropriate, nationally accredited tertiary education, including Certificates III and IV in Primary Health Care.