The theme for this year's Conference is Our Vision in Our Hands: Finding Our Voice, representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and ownership of eye health, and linking the work of the sector with the broader movements for self-determination and centring First Nations voices.
Background: The Conference theme for 2023 has been set by the National Experts Group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health (NEGATSIEH), which contributes to the Conference Leadership Group overseeing the conference. The theme builds on last year’s conference, which first introduced Our Vision in Our Hands as a Conference theme.
This year’s addition, Finding Our Voice, seeks to highlight emerging and future First Nations leaders of the sector, while also resonating the strength and values of the longstanding movement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination in health, and the broader current national movement to enshrine First Nations voice to parliament.
The theme invites consideration of how best to approach efforts to end avoidable vision loss and blindness. It calls for increasing support for the emerging First Nations leadership in the sector, and ownership of eye health by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people along with the shift in power that is necessary to produce the outcomes that we are all working towards.
The activities delivered as part of this theme will support the sector to purposely move towards assuming the roles that are required to advance eye health outcomes for Australia’s First Peoples, and make the necessary connections between self-determination, political representation, voice, and health.
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates the conference will aim to empower, inform and inspire, enabling First Nations people to play a key role in leading the eye health initiatives designed to improve eye health outcomes in their communities. For non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates, the Conference will aim to deliver knowledge, guidance and some practical skills to help shape their future contribution to ending avoidable blindness. This will include seeding some early ideas on how they, their colleagues and their non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations may wish to begin adjusting their approaches to supporting eye care. The goal is to permeate the thinking across all levels of the sector from the national policy landscape to funding bodies, service providers and the communities themselves.