Eye and vision health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Healthy eyes and good vision help kids learn at school, increase independence and increase job opportunities. Our policies and programs aim to prevent, treat and monitor eye disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Preventing eye disease

Eye conditions include cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and trachoma. These can lead to loss of vision, which affects quality of life and reduces independence.

We fund initiatives to help prevent and treat eye disease.

Eye health support

Eye health equipment

This initiative has provided more than 160 retinal cameras and associated training to:

  • prioritised Aboriginal Medical Services
  • health services in mostly rural and remote areas who have a high proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. 

These cameras help diagnose diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to vision loss. 

The initiative is also rolling out up to 110 slit lamps.

Eye health promotion 

We fund the Indigenous Eye Health Unit at University of Melbourne to carry out activities that help prevent trachoma. 

Addressing trachoma

We work with the affected states and territories to identify, treat and prevent trachoma. We also report to the World Health Organization’s program to eradicate trachoma across the world.

Read about how we're addressing trachoma

Outreach services

Many people who live in rural, remote and some urban areas depend on outreach health services – where health professionals travel from other areas to provide care.

We support these health professionals by covering some costs – like travel and accommodation – so that people can access eye care services, regardless of where they live.

We mostly fund one organisation in each state and territory to manage and deliver these outreach programs:  

Visiting Optometrists Scheme

The Visiting Optometrists Scheme supports optometrists to deliver outreach optometric services to remote and very remote locations. 

The scheme reimburses expenses like:

  • travel, accommodation and meals
  • facility fees and administrative support at the outreach location
  • locum support at the home practice
  • lease and transport of equipment.

Overall, services provided through this scheme more than tripled between 2010–11 and 2018–19.

Eye Surgical Support Program

The Eye Surgical Support Program provides more timely and convenient surgery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live in rural and remote areas.

It funds the travel and accommodation costs for:

  • health professionals who provide visiting surgical services, so that they can get as close as possible to rural and remote patients’ homes
  • patients and carers who need to travel to access surgery.

Learn more about outreach services

Outreach Programs Service Delivery Standards

These standards guide fundholders on their eligibility, responsibilities and the delivery of efficient and effective services.

Last updated: 
30 June 2021

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