Indigenous Eye Health Program
The Foundation is providing a grant of $1 million to establish the Harold Mitchell Chair of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne. The move is part of an effort to help stamp out trachoma, a blinding infectious eye disease, in Australia’s Indigenous communities. Recognising the importance of this initiative, the Ian Potter Foundation, Greg Poche and other private donors are providing additional funding.
Australia is the only developed country to still have trachoma, and the rates for trachoma in Australian Aboriginal communities are amongst the highest in the world. Indigenous Australians have a six times higher rate of blindness than other Australians and yet 94% of their vision loss is avoidable. Since this work started, the Australian Government has committed to eliminating trachoma and is considering the "Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision" that the Indigenous Eye Health Unit has prepared.
We think this is a great initiative because it has the potential to make a real difference by stamping out a major cause of blindness and closing the gap for vision. We are supporting a leading Professor of Ophthalmology, Hugh Taylor, AC, to provide leadership and oversight to ensure sustainable results. Already we have seen major progress, with trachoma rates starting to fall. It is also excellent because our funding has helped to encourage other partners and the Government to come on board.
For more information on the Indigenous Eye Health Program, please visit http://www.iehu.unimelb.edu.au.