The Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies in Australia (JJFC) is partnering with the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) to improve eye health for Aboriginal Australians.
This new partnership will support AHCWA’s Eye Health Coordination Program, which is designed to identify gaps in essential eye care in Aboriginal communities in Western Australia and concentrate on the areas that will lead to improved eye health, including equipment availability, skills training, data and patient information, follow-up care and access to spectacles.
Leading the project, AHCWA will work closely with the Member Services throughout the life of the project. Specifically, AHCWA said, “Year one of the Eye Health Coordination Program will involve a comprehensive map and gap analysis across service provision within the eye health space in the Western Australian Aboriginal health sector.
“Key areas of focus will include identifying what eye health screening equipment is available at each Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) and the current level of skills and training amongst the ACCHS workforce to use this equipment. This will also include identifying access to eye health specialists, such as optometrists and ophthalmologists, and exploring the availability of affordable spectacles.
“Through the recommendations identified from this first year of consultation and scoping, AHCWA will develop year two and three of the project, according to these recommendations. It is anticipated that an eye health training package will be developed to address any identified skill deficits which will include training on the correct use of eye health diagnostic equipment, as well as the recruitment of an eye health training coordinator.”
Kris Ashpole, Johnson & Johnson Global Community Impact Lead ANZ, said closing the gap in eye health and preventable blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is one of the pillars for the JJFC’s community impact program.
“The spirit of our Credo challenges us to help the people in our communities live healthier lives through better access to healthcare. Tackling preventable blindness in the primary health system is a major part of that challenge and while we have seen improvements in the disparities around eye health in Aboriginal communities, there is still a long way to go.
“We understand there is work to be done in healthcare worker training and service delivery, especially in remote communities including those in Western Australia. Knowing AHCWA’s strength in closing the gap in these areas, as well as its credentials as an Aboriginal-led organisation, we invited them to submit a proposal to support their program”.
Describing the process of partnering with AHCWA, Ms Ashpole said, “We shared our priorities in closing the eye health gap and addressing preventable blindness in these communities, along with the need for a longterm and sustainable solution. All of our programs are developed by the organisation, in response to our brief, based on their expertise and knowledge of the area.
“One of our requirements was for our partner to have an organisation-led design… While we engaged them to implement the program they submitted, and work in partnership to support them, the rollout is primarily driven by AHCWA.”
Ms Ashpole concluded, “We’re proud to join forces with AHCWA to narrow the gap in eye care even further by helping to provide the resources needed to ensure all Aboriginal people receive regular eye care as part of their primary health care”.
COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAM OF SUPPORT
The partnership with AHCWA follows JJFC’s recommitment to the principals of its Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 2021-2023, announced earlier this year.
JJFC in Australia is committed to advancing health equity in three key areas: maternal and infant health: supporting midwives and Aboriginal community health workers to improve maternal and child health; mental health: strengthening community-based care in mental health and suicide prevention, and eye health: addressing preventable blindness by strengthening primary health care systems.
To date, JJFC has contributed AU$1.75m in overall health equity program funding in Aboriginal health programs, including investments to improve eye health.
Additionally, JJFC in Australia focusses on strengthening local communities experiencing disadvantage through its disaster relief program, building resilient communities; consumer product donations to address grocery insecurity; medical product donations to support surgical missions in the Asia Pacific region enabling essential surgery; and health worker training to provide better access to care.