Indigenous eye health the focus of Specsavers immersion trip

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A team of Specsavers senior support office leaders headed to Alice Springs this week to learn more about the opportunities to work more closely with local health providers in and around Alice Springs to help close the gap in eye health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

The team travelled to Northern Territory to meet with several stakeholders and community partners, including representatives of The Fred Hollows Foundation and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress to explore ways Specsavers might better support improved eye health outcomes in remote communities through its community programs.

L-R: Specsavers Director of Communications, Charles Hornor; Director of Professional Recruitment, Raj Sundarjee; Director of Optometry, Ben Ashby; Commercial Director, Tom Craw; Director Human Resources, Karen Clancy; Fred Hollows Senior Partnerships Executive Jessica Millar; Head of PR, Cathy Rennie Matos and Fred Hollows Manager Indigenous Australia Program, Shaun Tatipata.

As part of the trip, the group met with Central Australia Aboriginal Congress CEO Donna Ah Chee and Medical Director Dr Sam Heard. They also participated in a Working with Cultural Differences workshop with Jason Elsegood, Director of Cross Cultural Consultants and visited Alice Springs Hospital.

Specsavers Director of Optometry, Dr Ben Ashby said the trip was designed to all those on the trip Specsavers business a greater perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing eye health in remote communities across Western Australia.

“Specsavers has partnered with The Fred Hollows Foundation since 2011 through our Specsavers Community Program to support the work of the Foundation and a number of their partners, including the WA-based Lions Outback Vision Van,  which travels to remote and under-serviced communities across the state to provide high quality, affordable and culturally appropriate eye care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.  In the past 12 months, Specsavers’ funding has enabled the Lions Outback Vision Van to undetake 108 cataract surgeries and screen more than 3,650 patients across 20 remote communities.

The trip included a visit to the Gap Rd Clinic in Alice Springs.

“The purpose of this immersion trip was gain a first-hand understanding of Fred Hollows Foundation’s industry-leading collaborative approach to closing the gap and the challenges that are being faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that we are working collaboratively to address through our existing community programs,” he said.

The Foundation’s Australasia Regional Director Jaki Adams Barton and Indigenous Australia Programs Manager Shaun Tatipata hosted the Specsavers group throughout their two-day visit.

“The Fred Hollows Foundation and Specsavers share a belief that no one should be needlessly blind or visually impaired. We also aspire to achieving a fair and just Australia, one where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples can access high quality eye care and eyewear. Since 2011 we have been working together in an effort to improve the eye health outcomes of Australia’s first peoples and I am delighted that our collaboration continues to strengthen,” Shaun said.

“I was privileged to host five of Specsavers’ directors this week in Alice Springs where we undertook some cross-cultural training, explored how best to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and support and strengthen the work being done by local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, and discussed how we plan to work together over the coming years to build a shared value partnership that ensures Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have greater access to high quality, affordable and culturally appropriate eye health services.”

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