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New leaders appointed for Fred Hollows Indigenous Australia program

Dechlan Brennan -

The Fred Hollows Foundation has welcomed two new appointments to help oversee their Indigenous Australia program.

Country Director Vincent Bin Dol and Program Manager Tanya Morris have both been announced to take charge of the Australian-wide program, which aims to end avoidable blindness and improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Both Mr Bin Dol and Ms Morris are proud Indigenous North Queenslanders, with the foundation saying they will bring fresh perspectives and determination to the program.

Mr Bin Dol, a Lumerridjin/Wardaman and Karrajarri Saltwater man, has more than three decades experience working with Indigenous people, in both a government and NGO capacity.

"My approach to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is through co-design, and having genuine conversations so we get it right the first time," he said.

"Only then can we design capacity strengthening models that improve the eye health needs of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community."

A descendant of the Bar-Barrum people, Ms Morris said a background in nursing and public health had given her the means to channel her passion into addressing the health disparities prevalent in rural and remote areas - especially among Indigenous populations.

"By amplifying the voices of those facing barriers to healthcare, I strive to create positive change and work towards a future where everyone has equal access to the resources and support, they need to thrive," she said.

"In the words of Fred Hollows, 'The basic rule of human nature is that powerful people speak for the powerless; when you're in a position to help others, you should do it."

Ms Morris said her upbringing in Burdekin instilled in her a deep appreciation for the unique health challenges faced by remote communities.

"I recognise the disparities and barriers that exist in accessing quality healthcare, particularly for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families," she said.

"This awareness fuels my determination to advocate for equitable health access for all, ensuring that no one is left behind due to systemic inequalities. "

Indigenous Australians are three times more likely to be blind than their non-Indigenous counterparts, and it is estimated there are over 18,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults over the age of 40 are living with vision impairment or blindness.

Furthermore, 90 per cent of vision loss for Indigenous adults is preventable or treatable.

The Fred Hollows Foundation says most vision loss can be corrected within 24 hours. However, there remain significant hurdles, when over 30 per cent of Indigenous Australians have never had an eye exam.

It is in this context that both Ms Morris and Mr Bin Dol will work to support the foundation by delivering culturally appropriate eye care services to remote and under-resourced Indigenous communities Australia wide.

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