Eye Health

Anyinginyi has the only Eye Program for the Barkly region, including all major communities and the North Barkly. The program means that all people (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) may access the Optometrist and the Eye Specialist. This program is in the unique position of coordinating and running all visits by the Optometrist and Eye Specialist, including the surgical visits.

The Eye Team consists of Maree O'Hara, Eye Health Coordinator, and Nadia Clements, Eye Health Administration Assistant.The Eye Team run 22-24 weeks of Eye clinics throughout Tennant Creek, Elliott, Epenarra, Canteen Creek, Ali Curung, Alpurrurulum and the North Barkly.  This covers 322,500 sq km and a population over 8,000.  53 Other communities and cattle stations  access these major centres. 

Better screening of eye conditions, getting people the glasses they need to see, arranging for their cataract and other surgeries has changed people’s lives and given many back their independence.  Many Aboriginal people in the Barkly once thought losing their eyesight was a natural progression in life but most now know and demand that they have eyesight that will support them in their lifestyles.

All people have access to glasses including subsidised glasses for Aboriginal people.  Diabetics need their eyes checked yearly and the national average for diabetics having eye checks in the past year is 20% whereas in the Barkly over 90% have had eye checks or appointments for eye checks.

Anyinginyi’s Eye Program is one of the most successful in the Northern Territory, and better than most across Australia.  Its success is due to Anyinginyi's commitment to this Eye Program in funding so that it may operate a full time Regional Eye Health Coordinator and Assistant  The government does not cover the funding needed for this program.

Recognition of this program has come in many forms including an invitation to speak at the International Conference of Healing Our Spirit Worldwide, held in Hawaii and attended by international indigenous groups, in 2010.  The latest recognition has been an Australia Day award for the Regional Eye Health Coordinator in 2012.  Anyinginyi, unlike many other Aboriginal Medical Services, also understand the needs of non-Aboriginal people in the Barkly and offers its services to non-Aboriginal people also for which no funding is provided.