Letter to the Editor
The Palaszczuk Government’s recent decision to stop funding the Indigenous Diabetes Eyes and Screening (IDEAS) Van shows a blatant disregard for the critical service the van delivers to indigenous Queenslanders.
The decision places a strain on medical services in regional communities and puts the overall health of indigenous Australians at risk.
The IDEAS Van takes specialist ophthalmology, optometry and imaging services to indigenous communities through a fully-equipped, 45-foot mobile clinic.
Since 2013, the van has travelled 200,000 kilometres, reaching some of the state’s most remote communities.
Up to 2,500 patients have been referred to the van for treatment to save their eyesight.
Thousands more diabetes patients have had vital screenings.
It is unreasonable to expect people living on the Sunshine Coast, to travel hundreds of kilometres to Townsville, Brisbane or the Gold Coast to receive treatment that they might have otherwise been able to access in their own town.
This is a backwards step in closing the gap in health outcomes and life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
It is time that the Government looked beyond the south east and addressed the needs of regional and remote Queensland by putting funding on the table for this important, life-changing program.
Dr Christian Rowan MP
LNP Shadow Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships