OneSight’s work in our Australia and New Zealand (NZ) regions spans more than 30 years. We’ve helped in leading dozens of one-day local clinics as well as week-long regional clinics, which have provided thousands of people with access to vision care. Thanks to our rockstar team of localized volunteers, who are both industry experts and long-time OneSight supporters, we’ve been able to reignite our charitable programming in Australia under a new COVID-19 protocol.
From June 21 – 25, our local team traveled to the Local Government Area (LGA) of Playford, South Australia to serve students in need.
THE LOCAL VISION CARE GAP
Unlike many other parts of Australia, South Australia is comprised of numerous low-income, urban communities. The City of Playford is one of the most disadvantaged of these urban areas. In fact, according to Australia’s ABS Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage the city has a score of 855 compared to South Australia’s average of 1000. This indicates steep inequalities socially and economically among households in Playford.
When compared to neighboring urban areas, The City of Playford stands out as having some of the highest disparities in education, employment, and income. A majority of The City of Playford’s residents have come from overseas and report speaking little to no english. These people were either born elsewhere and migrated to South Australia or entered as humanitarian migrants (refugees) under Australia’s Offshore Humanitarian Program.
Compared to Metropolitan Adelaid, Playford houses more than 2.5x as many refugees and has 2x the rate of unemployment (13%). Almost half of all children under the age of 16 in the area are part of a low income, welfare-dependent family – nearly twice the level in Metropolitan Adelaide (23.0%). Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the area also saw a loss of more than 70,000 manufacturing jobs which has added to unemployment and income levels locally.
These disparities in combination with the challenges posed by COVID-19 have made it very difficult for families to afford vision care and glasses. Many are forced to prioritize cost of living, education, and other health care needs over getting their family members the vision care they need.
HELPING SOUTH AUSTRALIA SEE
This June, we joined together with local volunteers to take our clinic kits on the road and help screen disadvantaged families in the five lowest income areas of Playford. Throughout the week, we served more than 800 kids in need across 7 local primary schools.
Many of these students are indigenous, financially disadvantaged, or have had difficulty accessing eye care because of cultural and language barriers. In addition, many of these kids have not had access to an eye exam and glasses for more than 2 years due to COVID-19.
But that has all changed thanks to our OneSight Australia team and volunteers!
While our work to #HelpAustraliaSee may be far from over, we’re so happy to be back in the field helping local communities access eye exams and glasses if and when they need them. To learn more about our work in Australia visit https://onesight.org/anz/.