Government Supports Closing the Gap in Eye Health

Senator Fiona Nash, Minister for Rural Health and Deputy Leader of the Nationals, has announced $2.5 million in funding to provide continued support to the Indigenous Eye Health Unit at the University of Melbourne.

Page last updated: 11 March 2016

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11 March 2016

The Coalition Government today demonstrated its commitment to eliminating avoidable blindness and vision loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Senator Fiona Nash, Minister for Rural Health and Deputy Leader of the Nationals, announced today $2.5 million in funding to provide continued support to the Indigenous Eye Health Unit at the University of Melbourne.

“I am pleased to announce future funding of $2.5 million to build on the achievements made to date to bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian eye health,” Minister Nash said.

“This investment brings our total support for Indigenous eye health to $9.1 million, building on our September 2015 investment of $6.6 million.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are two and a half times more likely to report having complete or partial blindness compared to non-Indigenous Australians.

The Indigenous Eye Health Unit provides expert advice and technical support on trachoma control, which is already helping to improve the eye health of Indigenous Australians.

The funding provided over three years from July will support the Unit – led by Professor Hugh Taylor – to deliver a range of services.

These include providing expert advice to the Department of Health, developing Indigenous eye care resources, providing technical support on trachoma control, and undertaking stakeholder engagement and support for the coordination of Indigenous eye care programmes and services.

“The funding will allow the unit to provide vital services, and also allow them to work with the sector on innovative and collaborative approaches to eye health,” Minister Nash said.

“This continues what has been a strong government commitment to eradicate trachoma in partnership with the pioneering work of Professor Taylor.”

“We will continue to collaborate with the eye health sector to ensure that we are able to eliminate trachoma by 2020, and close the gap in eye health between our Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.”

The Australian Government funds the current multilateral Trachoma Project Agreement ($16.5 million over four years to 30 June 2017) for trachoma screening and treatment activities, as well as providing funding for the continuation of trachoma control activities beyond 2017.

Funding is also being provided up to 30 June 2017 for the Kirby Institute at the University of NSW, to operate the National Trachoma Surveillance and Reporting Unit (NTSRU).

Contact: Les White 0409 805 122

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