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Coalition delivers funding boost for Aboriginal eye health

Tuesday, 23 July 2013
The Victorian Coalition Government has announced a $750,000 boost to deliver the Victorian Aboriginal Spectacle Subsidy Scheme (VASSS).
Minister for Health David Davis announced new funding for the scheme that has provided more than 4,000 spectacles to Aboriginal Victorians since July 2010.
“The Coalition Government is committed to closing the gap and improving health outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians and that is why we are providing $750,000 over four years to the Australian College of Optometry to continue the successful Victorian Aboriginal Spectacle Subsidy Scheme,” Mr Davis said.
Mr Davis said the scheme provides affordable, high-quality glasses to Aboriginal Victorians for just $10.
“Aboriginal Australians are significantly more likely to be blind or experience significant vision loss – up to six times more likely nationally,” Mr Davis said.
“By removing cost barriers the scheme improves access to eye checks, allowing for earlier detection of eye health conditions and referral to appropriate specialist treatment.
“Furthermore the designs of the glasses are community approved so they better reflect what people, particularly young people, want to wear.”
Eye clinics and subsidised glasses for Indigenous community members are available through participating optometrists across Victoria.
The Australian College of Optometry (ACO) also delivers bulk billed eye clinics across many of Victoria’s regional and rural Aboriginal health services.
CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation Jill Gallagher AO said regular eye-testing can help prevent vision loss and numbers show that Aboriginal people are less likely to get their eyes checked.
“Restored vision helps people engage in countless activities that they would have previously struggled with – from writing to shopping, driving a car, studying or working,” Ms Gallagher said.
“This program is changing lives by helping people enjoy the activities they used to, before their vision was impacted.”
Mr Davis said this funding was part of a record $61.7 million investment by the Victorian Coalition Government to help Close the Gap on Aboriginal health outcomes.
The scheme builds on the Victorian Government’s Vision 2020 initiative – a $2.55 million initiative over three years aimed at preventing vision loss among at-risk groups.
The scheme is delivered by the Australian College of Optometry in partnership with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and a network of optometrists in regional Victoria.
Indigenous patients wishing to attend an eye clinic are encouraged to contact their local Aboriginal health service to make an appointment.
A list of participating optometrists can be found on the VASSS webpage. 
Alternatively phone the Australian College of Optometry on 03 9349 7400 for nearby locations.
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