Indigenous children are the most vulnerable group of children in Australia, and the Australian Government has committed to reducing the gap in developmental outcomes between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous children through the Closing the Gap initiative. Trachoma is a condition that, if untreated, can significantly influence the health and wellbeing of affected Indigenous Australians. The Australian Government, State and Territory Governments, non-government organisations, researchers and advocates have been working for many years to advance the program of trachoma control in areas of need.

Many of the trachoma programs that are currently implemented in regional Australia are the legacy of the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program which ran from 1976 to 1978 under Professor Fred Hollows. In December 2005, the Australian Government allocated $1.12m over three years to develop a national approach for trachoma management. The production and distribution of national Guidelines for the Public Health Management of Trachoma in Australia (released in 2006) was funded. Also, the States/Territories with identified trachoma in 2005 (NT, SA and WA) received funding to enhance and expand the scope of current trachoma control activities to bring practice in line with the national guidelines, and to facilitate training and coordination for the trachoma program in each jurisdiction.

In 2006 a National Trachoma Surveillance and Reporting Unit (NTSRU) was established to enable consistent data collection and reporting on trachoma prevalence and monitor resistance to azithromycin. To date, annual surveillance reports have been published for 2006, 2007 and 2008 identifying the prevalence of trachoma and trichiasis. These reports indicate that trachoma continues to be endemic in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations in some parts of the NT, SA and WA. Also, the 2008 Indigenous National Eye Health Survey has shown trachoma to again be present in some communities in NSW and Queensland.

The Australian Government through the Improving Eye and Ear Health Services for Indigenous Australians for Better Education and Employment Outcomes measure has allocated $16m over four years towards eliminating blinding trachoma from Australia. DoHA will be seeking to improve the usefulness of surveillance data by improving the quality, timeliness and coverage of data collection, monitoring and surveillance for trachoma. under the new measure. This study reviews the current arrangement for trachoma surveillance and reporting and provides recommendations for an improved and expanded arrangement. DoHA has stated that it is critical that reliable and representative data on trachoma prevalence and control activities are collected and reported on a regular basis in the future.