People in the Top End's most remote communities have access to specialist eye health services thanks to a Foundation-supported initiative that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians.

Two-year-old Freda was one of 20 Indigenous patients examined recently by visiting optometrist, John Crimmings, in a remote community 100 km north of Darwin.

Freda had been referred for further assessment by the local health clinic for ‘squint' (strabismus), a condition affecting her binocular vision and depth perception.

Freda received treatment for her eye problem as part of the Visiting Optometrist Scheme, a Commonwealth initiative supported by The Foundation through its Indigenous Australia Program (IAP).

According to Shaun Tatipata, IAP senior eye health project officer, the scheme ensures that people are checked regularly, referred for appropriate treatment and prescribed spectacles if necessary.

"Our work here involves facilitating access to visiting optometrists for Aboriginal people in remote areas, and providing ongoing support and coordination for the scheme," says Shaun.

"These are essential eye health services that would not have been provided on such a scale or with such effectiveness without The Foundation's involvement."

The ongoing care of these patients is especially important in Indigenous communities where the incidence of chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension - known contributors to eye disease - is high.

The Foundation works closely with the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing to ensure the success of the scheme, which includes annual reviews of at-risk patients.

Freda's community is one of 21 remote Aboriginal communities in the Top End of the Northern Territory receiving eye health services through The Foundation's Indigenous program.

Fred Hollows took eye care to some of Australia's most remote Indigenous communities, was at the forefront of the establishment of Aboriginal controlled medical centres and never hesitated to tell Australia it needed to do better.

That's why The Foundation's work amongst 55 Indigenous communities goes beyond eye care, helping build strong and sustainable health systems - supporting projects that tackle eye health, aural health, nutrition, and maternal and children's health.

> Find out more about our work in Indigenous Australia.