New look for indigenous eye health

30 May 2024

To coincide with Reconciliation Week events in May Sydney/Sydney Eye Hospital is proud to announce the setting up of its Gadigal Eye Centre -- a pioneering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye clinic in the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD).

New look for indigenous eye health

Pictured left to right: Jennie Barry, General Manager of Sydney/Sydney Eye Hospital (SSEH), Kevin Heath, Aboriginal Health Worker South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD), Aunty Linda Boney, Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer SESLHD and Dr Pauline Rumma, Director of Clinical Services SSEH.

Formerly known as the Bicentennial Clinic, the Gadigal Eye Centre will be a hub for outreach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, providing in-person services as well as virtual care capabilities for eye patients in regional NSW.

According to Jennie Barry, General Manager Sydney / Sydney Eye Hospital and Prince of Wales Hospital, a three-phase plan will ensure the new clinic reflects a culturally safe space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and meet the growing need to support care closer to home.

“Our vision to name the Gadigal Eye Centre is reflective of South Eastern Sydney Local Health District’s commitment to accessible eye health services to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

“Together our two ophthalmology services at Sydney / Sydney Eye and Prince of Wales Hospitals will lead eye services and our virtual capability through this collaborative centre, thanks to funding from Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation. 

“The name acknowledges the Gadigal people, the original custodians of the land around Sydney’s central business district. We want this to be and a welcoming and safe environment, clinically and culturally, honouring the rich history of the Gadigal people through landscaping and art,” she said.

Gadigal Eye Centre

One of the concepts is to transform landscaping around the hospital grounds, to be an Aboriginal cultural marker including guardian stones and Australian native plants.

The gardens will be created by Wildflower – Gardens for Good, an organisation specialising in creating a connection between the cultural, ecological and community layers within a defined space. The organisation also provides opportunities for disadvantaged young people, especially in the Indigenous community.

New technology will be introduced so that ophthalmic specialists at Sydney Eye Hospital and Prince of Wales Hospital can extend their service delivery to patients in regional and remote communities.

Dr Andrew Chang, Head of Ophthalmology said, “The Gadigal Eye Centre will be a fully equipped virtual clinic benefiting patients across the state.

“In addition to the aesthetic changes, the Gadigal Eye Centre will include Sydney Eye Hospital’s telehealth capability, aptly named Tele-Vision.  This virtual technology will work in partnership with primary care providers in the community and local hospital teams across both clinical and emergency settings.

“Tele-Vision will be made possible through the investment in specialist retinal cameras installed in collaboration with regional clinics connecting to the Gadigal Eye Centre.  The cameras can be used by non-ophthalmic specialists such as GPs and nurses along with experienced ophthalmologists in the field at outreach centres.

“Aboriginal people are three times more likely to suffer from visual impairment than non-Aboriginal Australians with Aboriginal people four times more likely to have diabetic eye disease and twelve times more likely to have a blinding cataract,” Dr Chang said. 

“Known barriers to accessing services include complexity of patient journeys and a lack of coordination between services.”

Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation is the proud funding partner of the Gadigal Eye Centre, thanks to Closing the Gap fundraising events raising $200,000 supporting cultural considerations and much needed technology and equipment in partnership with Sydney / Sydney Eye Hospital and regional centres in NSW.

Room concept
Gadigal Eye Centre