Indigenous eye health – diversity and connection will close the gap for vision

Ms Rosamond Gilden1, Mr Mitchell  Anjou1, Mr Nick  Schubert1, Mrs Carol Wynne1, Mrs Tessa Saunders1, Professor Hugh  Taylor1

1Indigenous Eye Health, The University of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia



Initiatives and activities to close the gap for vision by 2020 are currently being implemented across Australia. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still (2015) have three times more blindness and vision loss compared than other Australians but this has been significantly reduced since 2008 when there was six time more blindness. The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision (Roadmap, 2012) proposed 42 sector-endorsed and evidence-based recommendations necessary to close the vision gap. The Roadmap identified that the eye care pathway was like a leaky pipe. To successfully navigate the patient pathway and tackle the ‘leaks’, the whole-of-system, collaborative approach proposed by the Roadmap connects diverse organisations within geographic regions who work together to close the gap for vision.

What is happening in your project/ health service/or what has been your experience:

Roadmap recommendations have been progressively implemented at national, jurisdictional and regional levels since 2012. Regional eye health stakeholder groups have been established, comprising members from various organisations involved in the patient journey. The diverse nature of these groups has been critical in identifying local barriers and determining solutions to address inequities and reform approaches.

Over 50 regions across Australia are now engaged in this way, representing urban, regional and remote areas. To 2018, 19 of the 42 Roadmap recommendations are completed and over 75% of intermediate activities commenced. Through regional collaborative processes, we have seen improved eye health outcomes for Indigenous Australians. This is reflected in national surveys (2015) and measures (2018) which show improved screening, examination and surgery rates and reduced blindness


This paper will consider the impact of embracing diversity through regional eye health stakeholder networks and how this has built stronger connections between patients, providers and services resulting in better eye health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


Rosamond Gilden started in the role of Research Assistant with Indigenous Eye Health (IEH), University of Melbourne in June 2016. Upon completion of her masters in Orthoptics, Rosamond worked as an Orthoptist in both the public and private sector. Rosamond joined the Centre for Eye Research Australia in 2014 as Clinical Coordinator for the National Eye Health Survey. In her role with IEH, Rosamond is part of the Roadmap team that helps to support implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision.