Shahnaz Rind
Shahnaz Rind

Shahnaz Rind

Indigenous Health Scholarship 2022

Deakin University, VIC

Bachelor of Optometry
Scholarship Awarded 2020

Sponsored by:
Rotary Club of Geelong East

Indigenous Health Scholarship Program

How will I contribute to improving Indigenous health as a qualified medical practitioner or health worker?

I believe that there is and has been significant gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples health in Australia. One major area which has been avoided for a long time in Indigenous people’s health is Ocular Health, with having less than 15 Indigenous Optometrist within Australia it makes it hard for Indigenous people to find a culturally safe space to go to for regular eye assessments.

Eye health is a very underestimated area where there is a lack of education not only within the wider Indigenous communities but throughout Australia. According to the AIHW (Australian Institute of Health Welfare), over 13 million Australians (55% of the total population) have one or more long-term eye conditions, based on self-reported data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics:

7.2 million with hyperopia (long-sightedness)
6.3 million with myopia (short-sightedness)
1.4 million with astigmatism (blurred vision)
687,200 with presbyopia (farsightedness)
548,600 with colour blindness
410,800 with cataract
236,600 with macular degeneration
131,500 with blindness (complete and partial).

With looking into the statistics, it has come to show that the older Indigenous Australians are almost 3x as likely to suffer from vision impairment or blindness as older non-Indigenous Australians. More than 1 in 10 Indigenous Australian age 40 and over suffer from vision loss. It is also stated in the AIHW that in 2012–13, one-third (33%) or 213,000 Indigenous Australians reported that they had an eye or sight problem.

After adjusting for age, the proportion of Indigenous Australians with an eye or sight problem was 8% lower than that of non-Indigenous Australians.

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