Eye Health the Focus at State Carnival


A collaborative opportunity to keep an EYE on good health at state carnival.

This 'Share Your Story' was written by Faye Clarke and Tony Lovett Grampian’s Regional Eye Stakeholder group.


The Victorian Senior Aboriginal Football and Netball Carnival provides a great opportunity to strengthen community engagement and participation, as well as encourage collaboration for locally appropriate eye health awareness as part of its targeted healthy lifestyle messages for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The state-wide Carnival hosted by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association VACSAL, is a three day event held in October each year, that celebrates culture and pride and promotes healthy lifestyles. It brings together a large number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across Victoria and interstate to take part in round-robin tournaments, workshops, children’s activities, food stalls and cultural activities.

In 2018, the Carnival organising committee declared the event sugar-free for the first time.

The decision to make the Carnival sugar-free is due to the high rate of diabetes and heart conditions in the Aboriginal community. Karen Heap, Chief Executive Officer, Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative (BADAC)

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness among Aboriginal communities, and up to 98 per cent of vision loss and blindness is preventable with early detection and treatment. It’s so important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are living with diabetes to have their eyes checked yearly.

The Grampian’s Regional Eye Stakeholder group, established in 2014, who work under the guidance Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision to improve eye health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people used the Carnival as an opportunity to collaborate, support and build on existing work in Indigenous eye health to help close the gap for vision.

It’s a wonderful opportunity to encourage our community members to have their eyes checked, especially those with diabetes. Faye Clarke, Chair of Grampian’s Regional Eye Stakeholder group & Diabetes Educator, BADAC

stalls at the carnival

Stakeholders from this regional collaboration and other state-wide stakeholders, including BADAC, Indigenous Eye Health (IEH), Diabetes Victoria, Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled (VACCHO), the Vision Initiative, Vision Australia, Central Highlands Primary Care Partnership, and Melbourne Football Club (MFC) came together to promote diabetes and eye health awareness through a number of engaging promotional activities in the lead up to, and during the event.

IEH’s MFC Indigenous eye health ambassadors, Neville Jetta and Aliesha Newman have supported the Victorian Carnival each year since 2016. A short promotional video and supporting posters from the ambassadors aim to promote key messages from IEH’s ‘Check Today, See Tomorrow’ diabetes eye care campaign as well as other consistent healthy lifestyle messages from VACCHO’s healthy eating and ‘Drink Water U Mob’ campaigns and Diabetes Victoria’s messaging around diabetes.

carnival posters

Watch Carnival promotional video’s from MFC below:

2019 VACSAL Senior Aboriginal Football and Netball Carnival promotional video

2018 VACSAL Senior Aboriginal Football and Netball Carnival promotional video

2016 Victorian NAIDOC Football and Netball Carnival promotional video

umpires wearing diabetes tshirts

The Carnival’s umpires have played a central role in these promotional activities with a number of umpires donning the ‘Check Today, See Tomorrow’ branded umpire t-shirts to encourage YEARLY eye checks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with diabetes.

The umpires were very happy and proud of their umpire shirts as they recognised their role in promoting this important eye health message. I think this (these diabetes eye health shirts) should be set for all Carnivals to promote eye health awareness, it is so important. Belinda Hayden, BADAC & Netball Coordinator

It is hoped that through strong leadership and local commitment that the promotion of health lifestyles, including messages on eye health and diabetes, continues to take a strong focus at future state-wide community events, not only in Victoria, but also within other states and territories across Australia, as we collectively work together to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and close the gap for vision.

screenshot of news article

Community-controlled events such as the Carnival provide wonderful opportunities to reach Indigenous communities in a positive and healthy environment that has an emphasis on healthy lifestyle messages’. Tony Lovett, VACSAL Carnival Lead Organiser & Aboriginal Community Services Officer

Media Release Letter of Support

Please get in touch with IEH Indigenous-EyeHealth@unimelb.edu.au if you’d like ‘Check Today, See Tomorrow’ umpire shirts to promote diabetes eye care at your next event. For other ‘Check Today, See Tomorrow’ health promotion ideas and to order FREE health promotion resources click here.

For further details on this ‘story’ please contact Carol Wynne, Translation Research Scholar at Indigenous Eye Health via email carol.wynne@unimelb.edu.au or by telephone (03) 83443984.

If you have any questions relating to the VACSAL Senior Aboriginal Football and Netball Carnival please contact Tony Lovett, Aboriginal Community Services Officer at VACSAL via email tony.lovett@vacsal.org.au or by telephone (03) 4308 0781.

For further details on the Grampian’s Regional Eye Stakeholder group please contact Faye Clarke, Chair via email FClarke@badac.net.au or by telephone (03) 5331 5344.

This 'Share your Story' article was published 24 Oct 2019.