How to Fix a Leaky Pipe
In 1976, Professor Hugh Taylor spent a year working as part of an Australia-wide program led by Fred Hollows assessing and providing eye care to Australia’s Indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Islander people
At that time, the rate of blindness for Indigenous Australians rate was 10 times higher than that of non-Indigenous Australians. A number of programs and initiatives were started that had some impact, but no major or long-lasting changes were effected.
In 1996, Professor Taylor was asked to prepare a report for the Australia Government on the eye care needs of Indigenous Australians. He was shocked and disappointed to see how little had changed in 20 years. The report made a number of recommendations.2 These were all adopted in principle by the government, but then were only partially implemented.
Because still not much had changed by 2008, a more concerted approach was taken to address the unmet need for eye care among Indigenous Australians. They represent a large and very disadvantaged group. The process we followed may well help guide other attempts to provide long-term, sustainable, high-quality eye care to other disadvantaged groups.
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