Four Specsavers employees will be participating in the 19.7km Rottnest Channel Swim 2018 to raise funds for Lions Outback Vision (LOV) – specifically its ‘Northwest Hub’ project, which aims to improve access to eye health services for rural populations in northwest Australia.

The team, known as ‘SPECtacular Sharkbait’, comprises Peter Larsen, Optometry Director for Specsavers Australia & New Zealand; Garry Fitzpatrick, Optometry Consultant for Specsavers Aus/NZ; Louise Winkler, Optometry Partner for Specsavers Nowra and Specsavers Nowra Central in New South Wales; and Kerrie Stevenson, Louise’s twin sister and a Specsavers locum optometrist.

On Saturday, 24 February 2018, the team will be heading to Western Australia to take part in the Rottnest Channel Swim from Cottesloe Beach to Rottnest Island – one of the largest open water swim events in the world. While many of the 2,400 local and international participants compete for the athletic challenge and event prizes, the Specsavers team has signed up in order to raise funds for LOV.

LOV was established in 2010 with the support of the Lions Eye Institute and the University of Western Australia. The organisation aims to integrate eye care to bring screening, optometry and ophthalmology to rural populations.

Services are provided throughout WA, with more than 7,000 people treated in 2016, and significant progress has been made in reducing blindness and vision loss. However, according to LOV, there are insufficient full-time specialists residing in northwest Australia to service the 100,000 people living in the region, and the fly-in, fly-out model, which enables outreach teams to visit remote areas and transfer patients to the city, is not sustainable, particularly as the burden of disease and treatments increases.

To address this problem, LOV has developed the concept for a ‘Northwest Hub’ to be based in Broome, WA. Through this regional ‘hub and spoke’ eye health model, eye care professionals will be based in Broome and provide weekly optometry and ophthalmology services throughout the Pilbara and Kimberley regions, with some of the regional ‘nodes’ serviced including Karratha, Port Hedland, Fitzroy Crossing, and Halls Creek, among others.

The hub will provide services including:

  • Clinics (including telehealth)
  • Surgical facilities
  • Education and training facilities
  • Junior doctor short-stay apartments
  • A diabetic nutrition hub and commercial kitchen
  • Parking for mobile clinics
  • Capacity to share facilities and roster collaboration with visiting specialists to co-manage diabetic complications.

To support the development of this critical eye health facility, please visit and share the Specsavers team’s fundraising page.