Closing the Gap - Improving eye and ear health services for Indigenous Australians

Closing the Gap - Improving eye and ear health services for Indigenous Australians

Department of Health and Ageing

Key Elements

The Australian Government will provide $58.3 million over four years to expand eye and ear health services to improve education and employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This measure will contribute to closing the gap in educational attainment levels and employment rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Key components of the measure include:

  • the expansion of the Visiting Optometrist Scheme; 
  • increased services to address trachoma; 
  • training of health workers for hearing screening; 
  • maintenance and purchase of medical equipment for hearing screening; 
  • additional ear and eye surgery, particularly for remote Indigenous people; and
  • hearing health promotion activities.

Background

Many Indigenous children suffer from significant hearing impairment which adversely affects educational attainment. This measure seeks to better manage the early onset of Otitis Media (middle ear infection) in children which results in fluctuating hearing loss, preventing active participation in education and subsequently limiting employment opportunities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also at increased risk of developing avoidable blindness and vision loss from conditions such as trachoma, and are less likely to access eye health care practitioners than other Australians. This measure will address barriers to Indigenous people accessing eye health care, particularly in remote and rural areas.

Implementation

The measure will commence in July 2009 and will be administered by the Department of Health and Ageing. 

Implementation strategies for the measure will be developed in consultation with key stakeholders, including state and territory governments and experts in the fields of eye and ear health

Total Government Funding

The Government is providing $58.3 million over four years for this measure.

Content Updated: 23 May 2012