National framework for action to promote eye health and prevent avoidable blindness and vision loss

Part three: Roles and responsibilities

Page last updated: November 2005

Successful implementation of the Framework will rest upon the development of partnerships across and between all levels of government, health professions, including the specialist eye health workforce and the generalist medical and allied health workforce, training institutions, industry bodies and non-government organisations, researchers, communities, families and individuals.

Governments and policy makers

The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and the Victorian Department of Human Services are the agencies charged with developing the National Eye Health Framework for Action by the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference. The Office for an Ageing Australia has responsibility within the Department of Health and Ageing for the coordination of the development of the Plan.

The Australian Government’s responsibilities under the National Eye Health Framework include the following:
  • the provision of national leadership on eye health policy development and implementation
  • the coordination of collaborative actions across governments to further nationally agreed eye health objectives
  • the establishment of formal linkages to related national public health strategies and initiatives and the development and fostering of strategic partnerships
  • identifying and utilising opportunities to promote eye health issues in relevant national health planning initiatives and programs
  • responding to identified areas of need by commissioning, promoting and sponsoring work that is best done at the national level
  • the coordination of Australian health workforce policy and planning
  • the promotion of eye health awareness within existing services, including general practice and aged care facilities
  • the identification and promotion of good practice approaches nationally across all key action areas in the Framework
  • funding through Medicare of optometric, ophthalmological and general practice services
  • funding through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme of ophthalmic therapeutic agents
  • the development and funding of a range of initiatives to improve access to specialist eye health services for people living in rural and remote Australia
  • contributing to the development of nationally agreed research priorities for eye health research and funding of eye health research
  • providing advice on the policy related aspects of Australia’s international obligations, including representing Australia on a WHO taskforce to monitor the elimination of avoidable blindness globally
  • analysing and monitoring eye health data and outcomes and reporting on performance against the Framework at the national level.
State and territory governments are responsible for providing leadership in regard to eye health policy within their respective jurisdictions and according to local needs and priorities. Among the functions state and territory governments may perform under the National Eye Health Framework are the following:
  • developing and implementing state based eye health action plans consistent with the nationally agreed framework but based on local priorities
  • designing, developing and implementing public health information and education programs aimed at raising public awareness of eye health
  • providing public sector eye health services or funding community-based organisations to provide programs to prevent and treat eye conditions
  • ensuring that eye health services are provided in a manner consistent with the principles and intent of the National Eye Health Framework
  • analysing and monitoring trends in eye health, service utilisation and health outcomes at the jurisdictional level
  • contributing to cross-jurisdictional and national surveys, data collection systems and research.

Professional associations

Professional associations can contribute to the elimination of avoidable blindness and vision loss in Australia, through providing the infrastructure for education and training, developing referral pathways and maintaining other professional support activities and networks. Such organisations include the Australian Medical Association and the Australian Divisions of General Practice, the Royal College of Nursing, the Pharmacy Guild and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, as well as the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists, the Optometrists Association of Australia and the Orthoptic Association of Australia.

Community based organisations

In Australia, a large number of community based organisations, often staffed by volunteers, make a valuable contribution to the elimination of avoidable blindness and low vision by providing information to the public and to health care and other professionals about specific eye diseases and available interventions, as well as offering support to people with vision loss and providing funding for research activities.

Business and industry

Employers and employees are responsible for occupational health and safety in the workplace, including the development of policies to reduce the risk of eye injury occurring, and to ensure good eye health practices amongst office workers.

Families and individuals

The National Eye Health Framework seeks to improve the capacity of individuals and families to promote eye health through raising awareness of strategies to prevent avoidable blindness and vision loss.
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