The Fred Hollows Foundation has cautiously welcomed the federal government’s emphasis on innovation and private sector involvement in its revised approach to aid, launched today by the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop MP at the National Press Club.

The Foundation’s CEO, Brian Doolan, says Minister Bishop’s new approach has the potential to deliver benefits to those who need them most, but more details are needed.

Mr Doolan says The Foundation has always been innovative in its approach to eliminating avoidable blindness globally.

“The most significant cost-saving device is the invention of the low-cost intra-ocular lens championed by Professor Hollows that cut the price of cataract surgery to as little as $25 in many countries.”

“The Fred Hollows Foundation hopes that this commitment from Minister Bishop leads to greater investment from the Australian Government and private sector partners in avoidable blindness in our region.”

“We are seeking further information from the Minister on details of the $30 million a year program to improve health funding for development.”

Ms Bishop has also introduced performance benchmarks to make sure Australia’s aid program is effective, accountable and delivers results.

“Australian based international non-government organisations are some of the best in the world. The Fred Hollows Foundation and others operate to deliver essential surgery, medicines and screening to millions around the world in the most efficient way.”

“It is also worth remembering that Australian mums and dads contribute more than $870 million to development efforts every year. The actions of the federal government are important but the contribution of Australian donors also makes a huge impact.”

For the next two years the federal government has capped aid spending at $5 billion a year. It is then tied to future increases to inflation.