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Project Background

Western Australia has a population density of 0.2 people per square kilometre outside of the capital, Perth.  This poses a range of geographic and economic barriers to accessing health care, particularly specialist services. Furthermore, cultural barriers pose a real issue for many of the state’s population. There are 59,000 Aboriginal Australians in Western Australia, representing 13.2% of the population in rural and remote areas.  

Project Overview

In 2017, The Lions Eye Institute Ophthalmology Outreach Project focused on the reduction of avoidable blindness in remote and under-serviced communities of Western Australia. They did this through the Lions Outback Vision Van, a mobile eye health clinic that provides comprehensive ophthalmology care to rural and remote parts of the state. 

The Van achieved 38 community visits across 19 locations, including Kalgoorlie, Halls Creek, and Broome. 

Key Project Outcomes

Thanks to your contribution, $20,000 has helped achieve the following outputs: 

  • Screened 302 people in remote communities; 
  • Performed 22 eye operations and treatments for cataract and diabetic retinopathy;
  • Provided 94 spectacles; and 
  • Supported 38 community visits across 19 remote and under-serviced locations in Western Australia. 

Case Study: Tracey from Broome

Tracey from Broome is a wonderful example of what happens when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the access to eye care that all Australians deserve. 

Tracey is a 73 year-old woman who grew up in Beagle Bay and Broome in Western Australia. 

Tracey's father was instrumental in setting up the first Aboriginal Medical Service in Broome. He received help from the Aboriginal Medical Service in Sydney, an organisation Fred Hollows was closely associated with for many years. 

When Fred was alive, he made a trip to Broome. While there, he examined a young Tracey's eyes – as well as the eyes of her 11 siblings.

Many years later, Tracey developed bi-lateral cataracts, and was quickly losing her independence. Visited by the Lions Outback Vision Van, Tracey had her eyes screened by Dr Angus Turner, who is dedicated to improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through eye health.

Dr Angus shows so much compassion for his patients, and his ease and skill as a surgeon puts patients at ease. Throughout Tracey's treatment, he built an easy rapport with her. 

After surgery, Tracey’s patches was removed. She was overjoyed to see again. 

Tracey has over 20 grandchildren and is a great-great grandmother and spoke at length about being able to go back to Beagle Bay. She can’t wait to see the ocean again and see her beloved grandchildren grow up. 

Living in remote Australia meant it was not easy for Tracey to access basic eye care services. This is why The Fred Hollows Foundation recognises the importance of supporting the Lions Eye Institute and their Outback Vision Van. It allows people like Tracey to be assessed, transported and treated appropriately so they can continue to lead full lives. The eye health of remote and rural communities depends on it. 

Thank you for your support.

What Next?

There is always more work to be done as we strive to end avoidable blindness. The Foundation relies on the continued support of our generous donors to achieve Fred’s dream of a world where no one is needlessly blind.
The Fred Hollows Foundation will continue to support this project to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in rural and remote Western Australia have access to high quality, affordable, and culturally appropriate eye health care. 
2018 outputs include: 

  • Screen 3,300 people through outreach activities; 
  • Perform 200 cataract operations;
  • Perform 450 diabetic retinopathy treatments;
  • Support the training of 3 ophthalmologists; and
  • Support the training of 10 mid-level eye care workers. 

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