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Alcon to support ANZEF First Nations Ophthalmology Scholarships Program

Alcon Australia recently announced a transformative partnership with ANZEF at the launch of the Alcon “Reflect” Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in Sydney on 22 January 2024.

Alcon’s backing represents a significant step towards growing the First Nations eye health workforce. Their support of the ANZEF First Nations Ophthalmology Scholarships program aims to empower aspiring First Nations ophthalmologists in Australia and New Zealand through grants for educational and mentoring initiatives in eye health.

The three-year initiative focuses on sparking interest in eye health and providing support to overcome training barriers for aspiring ophthalmology trainees. The grant will bolster existing ANZEF scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students and doctors and expand opportunities in New Zealand for Māori and Pasifika candidates.

The heartfelt ceremony during Alcon’s regional kick-off event underscored their commitment to enhancing eye health outcomes in First Nations communities and highlighted this partnership as a cornerstone of the Alcon Reconciliation Action Plan. Representatives from RANZCO and ANZEF were also in attendance, supported by an address from A/Prof Kris Rallah-Baker.

Penny Stewart, Alcon, Country Manager, Australia and New Zealand says, “We recognise that First Nations people can be disproportionately impacted by eye health conditions, and vision problems are the most common long-term health issues reported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. As leaders in eye health, we believe we can help address access to eye health care by supporting the ANZEF’s efforts to deliver eye care through scholarships for Australia’s First Nations and New Zealand Māori and Pasifika medical students and doctors, enabling them to provide much needed care in these communities.”

 

ANZEF First Nations Ophthalmology Scholarships

These scholarships form part of RANZCO’s comprehensive strategy to grow the First Nations ophthalmology workforce. The strategy also includes a partnership with the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) to promote ophthalmology opportunities for First Nations doctors and significant fee support funded by ANZEF for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander RANZCO VTP trainees throughout specialty training.

Quantity: Three (3) opportunities annually (registration and travel) for AIDA members

The RANZCO Eye School session at AIDA is an effective educational and networking opportunity, providing attendees with a hands-on introduction to the field of ophthalmology and the chance to speak with ophthalmologists.

Quantity: Six (6) opportunities annually (registration and travel) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors and medical students

  • Led by First Nations Eye Health Alliance (FNEHA), held the week before National Reconciliation Week.
  • Excellent introduction to Indigenous eye health sector.
  • High-profile conference sponsored by RANZCO and Fred Hollows Foundation.
  • Also attended by rural health orgs, and First Nations medical students, scholars and clinicians.
  • Opportunity to submit abstracts, build relationships and attend education sessions.

Quantity: 10 opportunities annually for First Nations doctors and medical students

Increasing access to Congress to enhance opportunities for learning, to present posters, and make connections in ophthalmology.

Quantity: Two (2) opportunities annually (registration and travel) for First Nations doctors and medical students

Increasing access to Congress to enhance opportunities for learning, to present posters, and make connections in ophthalmology.

Quantity: Up to 10 hui participants – workshop facilitation, catering and travel

Advancing Te Tiriti o Waitangi Action Plan and growing the First Nations Ophthalmology Workforce; enhancing skills and connection with mentors who will support success in qualifying for and completing the RANZCO VTP.

Quantity: Six (6) $2,000 grants annually

Skills development through education opportunities and connecting with mentors who will support success in qualifying for RANZCO VTP.

Alcon team and RAP Working Group with RANZCO staff at the launch of Alcon’s “Reflect” RAP

(L-R): Penny Stewart, Josh Clark, Robyn Chu, ANZEF Head of Foundation Paula Llavallol, Casey Dempster and RANZCO CEO Mark Carmichael.