Work in progress

National Eye Health Service Delivery Project

IRIS was recently awarded the following funding allocations by the Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (OATSIH).

  • $880,000 for the purchase of specialty ophthalmic equipment
  • $250,000 vital surgical equipment for Kununarra and for a tele-health package for broader Western Australia .

The following projects have been identified by IRIS to receive an allocation of equipment, which will be provided under a loan agreement. The equipment will be managed and its use prioritised by IRIS. This is the first step towards the development of IRIS’ planned spoke and hub model of service delivery.

South Australia
South Australian Eye Health Program - 18 communities to receive new ophthalmic equipment, including:

  • Fregon/Kaltjiti
  • Mimili
  • Iwantja
  • Amata
  • Pipalyatjara
  • Nyaoari
  • Coober Pedy
  • Kooniba
  • Tjutjunjara
  • Oak Valley
  • Pukatjaa
  • Port Lincoln
  • Yatala
  • Nyapari
  • Umoona Tjutagku

Central Australia
Outreach eye service in Central Australia
Communities to receive new ophthalmic equipment:

  • 32 clinics across the Central Australia region will receive new equipment.

New South Wales
Outback Eye Service - Funding will be spent on updating outdated ophthalmic equipment in Bourke.

Western Australia
Outreach eye services in Western Australia - Communities to receive new ophthalmic equipment, include:

  • Derby
  • Karratha
  • Kununurra

Project: To develop and support a public eye service in Dubbo, central NSW
Outback Eye Service Coordinator and IRIS Taskforce member Joanna Barton has sought assistance and support from the Taskforce to source recurrent funding for the establishment of a public eye health service in Dubbo. The service would encompass new equipment, as well as a Registrar position and eye health coordinator position at Dubbo Hospital. Basing itself in Dubbo the service would then outreach to Bathurst, Orange, Parkes and numerous other sites.  IRIS will be  working closely with the Sate Ophthalmology Committee and the Rural and Regional NSW Local Health Networks

Project: Delivering outreach cataract surgery to remote Indigenous communities in NSW 
Dr Paul Kottos contacted IRIS for assistance in delivering cataract surgery to patients in the Bega and nearby regions. For the past seven years Dr Kottos has attended Bega  three days per fortnight and wants to expand this service to provide public cataract surgery services from the Bega or Pambula hospitals. Dr Kottos has recognised a large indigenous population in the area is in need of this service. Currently patients are being sent to Canberra, Mareeya, or Batemans Bay for cataract surgery. IRIS is now assisting Dr Kottos to establish the service.  The Southern NSW Local Health District is discussing a public surgery and consulting service with a small number of ophthalmologists who will also be involved in providing the service.

Project: Telemedicine program for urban and non-urban ophthalmologists and optometirsts
Dr Lionel Kowel is seeking assistance from the IRIS Taskforce to develop a telemedicine program that will assist urban and non urban optometrists and ophthalmologist in assessing and treating their patients in their own locales. The program would provide rural and remote doctors with access to experienced optometrists and ophthalmologists in paediatric eye health and strabismus. A panel of health experts would be on rotation to provide advice on diagnosis.

Project: Travelling eye health positions available
Expressions of Interest are now being sought for the following positions with NSW Rural Doctors Network

  • Ophthalmology  at Armidale (Aboriginal  service), 4 x 1 day visits p/a (USOAP)
  • Ophthalmology at Inverell (Aboriginal service),   4 x 1 day visits  p/a (MSOAP-ICD)
  • Ophthalmology at Campbelltown (Aboriginal service), 13 x of 1 day visits p/a (USOAP)

Ophthalmologists interested in taking up any of these positions are encouraged to direct expressions of interest to IRIS Coordinator Angela Aicken at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
For more information on any of the positions please telephone Angela Aicken on (07) 3831 3007.

Project: To secure additional funding for SA Eye Health Co-ordinator
The IRIS Taskforce is currently exploring options to secure long-term funding that would support the existing South Australia Eye Health Co-ordinator role. The role is responsible for co-ordinating an extensive network of outreach eye services to rural, remote and Indigenous communities throughout the State. Local ophthalmologists who participate in this network have recently identified a strong need for additional funding support for the South Australian Eye Health Co-ordinator. The IRIS Taskforce is investigating further funding options as a result.

Breakthrough: IRIS has now secured support funding for the 2010/11 and 2011/12 financial years for the role of South Australia Eye Health Co-ordinator.

Project: Equipment and project management support for diabetes clinic in Inala, Brisbane
IRIS is currently working with eye specialist Dr Rowan Porter and Clinical Director of the Southern Queensland Centre of Excellence in Indigenous Primary Health Care, Assoc. Professor Noel Hayman to secure funding for project management of the design, build, and equipment needs for a proposed Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment Clinic in Inala. The Clinic will provide a crucial eye health service to the Inala community and remote Indigenous communities both currently and potentially receiving outreach services. The application for funding is two-fold. The first funding need relates to one-off equipment costs for the clinic. The second relates to project management for design and build of the clinic to ensure a facility is created that allows for positive and coordinated care delivery.

News update: IRIS was unsuccessful in its bid for this grant money. The IRIS Taskforce has requested feedback on why the bid was not successful and is investigating other funding options for the Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment Clinic - Inala.
Project: Defining the role of ‘Aboriginal Health Worker’ in eye health
Description: The IRIS Taskforce is working in conjunction with other eye health representatives to develop a benchmark for the skills required to fulfil the role of ‘Aboriginal Health Worker’ in an eye healthcare setting. Aboriginal health workers are a vital element of many healthcare teams. IRIS is working to develop a kind of ‘position description’ for the specific skill needs of an Aboriginal Health Worker working in an eye healthcare team. IRIS will look at the range of services health workers deliver in their role and use this to move towards developing a specific training program and position guidelines that will support their role in the team.
Project: Retinal camera funding and securing an ophthalmologist or optometrist for the Lismore Aboriginal Health Centre
Description: The IRIS Taskforce is working with retired ophthalmologist Dr Malcolm Tester to ensure Dr Tester’s valuable work delivering ocular examinations for diabetic patients attending the Lismore Aboriginal Health Centre can continue. Dr Tester retired from practice in June 2010 but is passionate about maintaining the service he was delivering. IRIS is working with Dr Tester to secure funding for a non mydriatic retinal camera for the Centre. The Taskforce is also exploring ways of attracting an ophthalmologist or optometrist to fill Dr Tester’s previous role at the Centre.


footer_logosFunding for this project is provided to the Australian Society of Ophthalmologists by the Australian Government
under the Medical Specialist Outreach Assistance Program – Eye Health Teams for Rural Australia measure