It was announced today that The Fred Hollows Foundation’s Founding Director, Gabi Hollows, has received an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) award for her work as an advocate for the eradication of blindness.

Gabi has dedicated the last 40 years of her life to social justice. She has been a driving force behind The Foundation’s work to eliminate avoidable blindness globally and improve the health outcomes of Indigenous Australians.

Thanks to her commitment to furthering the vision of her late husband Fred Hollows, millions of people who would otherwise be blind can see. In 2012 alone, The Foundation and partners contributed to eye operations, treatments and procedures that benefitted over 8 million people.

It is fitting tribute that Gabi should be recognised with an AO for the impact of her work alongside Fred, who himself received a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1991.

Gabi Hollows: a celebrated life

  • Key member of the team led by Fred Hollows that ran the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program, visiting over 465 remote Indigenous communities to treat people for trachoma and other painful eye conditions, from 1976 to 1978
  • Together with Fred and their friends, set up The Foundation in 1992 to continue Fred’s work after he lost his battle with cancer in 1993
  • Just six weeks after Fred’s death, visited Vietnam to see The Foundation initiate a training program that saw 322 eye doctors equipped to perform modern cataract surgery. Since then, the number of people needing cataract surgery in Vietnam has dropped from one million in 1992 to less than 252,000 today
  • Carried on Fred’s dream of producing affordable intraocular lenses (IOLs) in developing countries to reduce the cost of cataract surgery. One year after Fred died, IOL labs opened in Eritrea and Nepal, which have now produced more than 5 million of the miracle lenses. This is one of the reasons that in many countries where we work, sight can now be restored for just $25
  • Received Advance Australia Award for Community Service
  • Received Paul Harris Fellowship from Rotary International
  • Named one of Australia’s 100 Living National Treasures
  • 2003 – awarded a Centenary Medal by the Australian Government
  • 2006 – became an Honorary member of Rotary
  • 2011 – awarded Honorary Doctorate of Health Science
  • 2013 – The Foundation Fred and Gabi established was this year ranked in the Top 50 best non-government organisations in the world by The Global Journal for its role in reducing the cost of cataract surgery and commitment to training local staff.

Everyone who is part of The Fred Hollows Foundation family is so proud of Gabi for receiving her AO and for her huge contribution to social justice and equality.