Close the Gap for Vision by 2020 National Conference 2017 - Report
The report from the Close the Gap for Vision by 2020 National Conference 2017 held in March has been released. Over 100 attendees from all jurisdictions and representing national, state and territory, regional and local organisations and interests across Australia gathered to share learnings and experiences to improve Indigenous eye health. It was also a time to discuss and plan what needs to be done to close the gap for vision by 2020.
Professor Hugh Taylor said “It was a great to see so many people from across Australia connecting, sharing and learning through this exchange of Indigenous eye care initiatives, efforts and experiences.”
Regions discussed the importance of collaborative partnerships and networks, engagement of a dedicated project officers, at least for a period of time, jurisdictional oversight and support and promoting eye health messages to facilitate Indigenous eye health improvements. Short length funding cycles and data access and sharing were identified as key challenges that impede regional progress.
Data from the National Eye Health Survey (2016) and National Trachoma Surveillance Report (2016) indicates that the inequity gap for vision between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is closing. Further work is required to improve performance monitoring at the national, state/territory and regional levels. Regions confirmed difficulty with existing data systems and the consequent problems this creates to measure and monitor service needs. Jurisdictional coordination projects and regions are contributing simplified data collection and monitoring approaches.
Nationwide, a number of Indigenous eye care initiatives were identified that have introduced innovation and improvement. The Australian Government has provided specific additional funds to support much of this work. Some initiatives target specific eye conditions such as cataract, diabetes, refractive error and trachoma, whilst others focus on providing clinical care to remote settings by use of technology or improving access to, pathways for and capacity of services. Improved engagement with state health departments was considered critical to further outcome improvement.
National meetings are planned in coming years to support work towards the 2020 goal.
Rosamond Gilden & Mitchell Anjou