The Annual General Meeting, followed by the end of year celebration for the Macular Disease Foundation Australia, was held at the Art Gallery of NSW and attended by volunteers, donors, board members, patrons, and special guests.
Commencing the event formalities, chairman Robert Kaye outlined the foundation’s 2018 successes in reducing the incidence and impact of macular disease in Australia.
This has been a transformative year for our Foundation. We’ve embraced a new theory of change model
“This has been a transformative year for our Foundation. We’ve embraced a new theory of change model which puts the macular disease community at the heart of everything we do and every decision we make.
“The change is happening. We’ve made real inroads into fighting this disease through our determination to educate and raise awareness to prevent macular disease,” he said.
Mr Kaye also acknowledged the Foundation’s investment of in excess of six hundred thousand dollars to three leading Australian vision researches this year.
“These fundamental vision research projects really assist our scientists to understand the basics of macular disease and how it develops. It’s a critical first step in developing new treatments, and new ways of managing people with disease,” he said.
Guest speaker and esteemed patron of the Foundation, Ita Buttrose, spoke about the Foundation’s achievements in 2018. With particular concern regarding the correlation between diabetes and macular disease, she acknowledged that 64 per cent of diabetics are unaware of their susceptibility to the disease.
As a passionate advocate for the prevention and early detection of macular disease, Ms Buttrose said Macular Disease Foundation Australia should receive credit for the role it has played in changing consumer behaviour as, “there is now much greater awareness in the community about macular disease and that’s due to the hard work of everyone connected with the Foundation”.
Ms Buttrose also mentioned the generous contribution of volunteers and board directors and their role in supporting the Foundation’s “ambitious plans for the future” which involve strategies to, “expand its eye health program and research advocacy”.
“Advancing the agenda requires collaboration and support. Better outcomes and results are not possible without the help of our supporters,” she said.
CEO Dee Hopkins addressed the audience with significant news regarding a National Action Plan to be presented to the federal health minister Greg Hunt in Melbourne, week commencing 10 December 2018.
As a “real cornerstone of the Foundation’s work into the future,” the plan requires funding from the federal government in order to ensure effective implementation.
“We’re going to take this opportunity to develop a campaign. We want implementation, we want bipartisan support for this National Action Plan. It is imperative to making a difference in the future,” said Ms Hopkins.
Ms Hopkins outlined the main pillars of the initiative as prevention and early detection, treatment, and research. There are also plans for redeveloping the Foundation’s partnership program as, “when we work collaboratively we can actually kick more goals together,” said Ms Hopkins.
The event concluded with special acknowledgement of volunteers for their continued commitment to the Foundation as well as thanks to the medical and research committee. The formal agenda was followed by an end of year celebration and an arts engagement program designed for individuals with low vision or who are blind with their family, friends and carers.