We are an international development organisation working towards eliminating avoidable blindness and improving Indigenous Australian health.
It started around Fred and Gabi’s dinner table
Four years after he was diagnosed with cancer, and knowing he didn’t have much longer to live, Fred and Gabi Hollows decided they needed to find a way to continue his work. They started The Foundation with a group of friends and supporters to keep alive Fred’s dream: that everyone, no matter whether rich or poor, would have the right to high quality and affordable eye care. They promised to continue to fight for the change Fred so badly wanted.
Today we continue Fred’s vision: we see a world in which no person is needlessly blind and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders exercise their right to good health.
Fred died less than one year later. It was a terribly sad time, but brightened by the knowledge that through The Fred Hollows Foundation his work would carry on.
– Gabi Hollows
The Fred Hollows Foundation today
Since its humble beginnings in Fred and Gabi’s kitchen, The Foundation now works in more than 25 countries and has restored sight to over two and a half million people.
We are driven by Fred’s vision to eliminate avoidable blindness, for Indigenous Australians to have access to quality health services and to stand up for what is right. We believe that collaboration, getting things done with integrity, and empowering local communities is the best way to make a difference.
Today, there are 36 million people in the world who are blind – but many don’t need to be. We focus on preventable and treatable diseases such as cataract, trachoma and diabetic retinopathy. Our in-country work involves local training and providing affordable technology, so doctors, nurses and health care workers can recognise, diagnose, refer and treat eye problems in their communities. We use research to improve our understanding of avoidable blindness, then use our findings to implement strategies and advocate for change.
The Foundation is overseen by our Board of Directors, which includes Gabi Hollows. CEO Ian Wishart leads day-to-day operations, and we’re still advised by Fred’s great mate and fellow humanitarian, Dr Sanduk Ruit. We are independent, not-for-profit, politically unaligned and secular.
Fred was the type of man who knew exactly what he wanted, then went about getting it. Through his years with the Aboriginal Medical Service, National Trachoma and Eye Health Program and his work in developing countries, he was driven by the injustices he saw.
Being the man he was, he spent his final years planning to establish factories in Eritrea and Nepal and develop low cost lenses in these two countries that he cared deeply about. Months before his death, he also flew to Vietnam to keep a promise to train ophthalmologists in modern eye surgery techniques so that local people would be empowered to help their own communities.
We’re working just as tirelessly as Fred did to end avoidable blindness – by fighting injustice, building local capacity, empowering the countries where we work, and staying true to our values. He had a big dream and it’s a dream that lives on in the work of The Foundation.
Together, we can do this
We know exactly how to help mothers who are pulling out their eyelashes in agony from trachoma. We know how to treat children who are needlessly blind from cataract and to get them back to school. We know how to prevent people with diabetes going irreversibly blind because they can’t access quality eye care.
We know how to help, but there’s a lot of work still to be done across the world and in Indigenous communities in Australia. Eliminating avoidable blindness can be achieved – with the help of our partners and, most importantly, you, our invaluable supporters.