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Dr Rosie Dawkins & Gavin Brown Talk about Eye Health and Care

Dr Rosie Dawkins has an active research portfolio undertaking both clinical and laboratory research, aimed at optimising outcomes for patients with retinal diseases while Gavin Brown is a Gunditjmara – Kirrae Wurrong man who grew up in the Fitzroy Aboriginal community. Both are special guests as they talk about eye health and care.

A partnership between the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and the Victorian Aboriginal Health Services (VAHS) has created the nation’s first specialist eye clinic that sits within a community controlled organisation.

VAHS General Manager of Operations, Gavin Brown, said VAHS has been a vibrant part of life for the First Nations community in Fitzroy and that this new clinic enables the organisation to continue the work they do.

“Fitzroy is our stomping ground and a spiritual home for a lot of people. We have a relationship with a few hospitals in the area, that have been built over those 46 years,” Mr Brown said.

“The services that are provided and the results are wonderful … It is an amazing program, and we have a lot of visiting specialists. This is a real model for us on how we can do things in our service and have the … relationships outside for the things that are beyond our capability in terms of surgery and so on.”

Many staff within the clinic are of non-Indigenous heritage, however the partnership has enabled teaching and better understanding of how to deliver a culturally safe service.

Dr Rosie Dawkins is a non-Indigenous woman working as the clinic’s Consultant Ophthalmologist.

“Rosie is our ophthalmologist … she has a wonderful understanding. It is wonderful when you get non-Aboriginal people who are the right fit, and have that respect and have a comprehension of our culture and way of life and have respect for community controlled health organisations as well,” Gavin said.

Key message: • If you need urgent or essential eye care, we are here to provide face to face eye care services. And if the problem isn't urgent, please be patient. We will be happy to see you when it is safe to do so. • When sight is lost it may be able to be saved if you get seen urgently, but if you wait until after the pandemic it may be too late. • All the services are being run to make the risk of infection as low as possible, with the use of screening checks, personal protective equipment, social distancing and hygiene measures. Your safety is our highest priority – always.

Our services are open - you can see your GP at VAHS, call Australian College of Optometry for an appointment on 93497400 or if it’s an emergency do not delay go direct to The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital’s Emergency Department If you need to come to the hospital please be assured your safety is our priority. All people entering the hospital have to go through screening checks, they have to put on a face mask, have their temperature taken and sanitise their hands. Our emergency staff are wearing full PPE and regular cleaning is undertaken. Both of the clinics we run in partnership with VAHS (Ophthalmology and Healthy Ears) are open for urgent cases, please call 94193000 to make an appointment.

If you are having any problems with your vision, or need your glasses repaired or replaced, please call the Australian College of Optometry. Tell the person on the phone you are a patient of VAHS on the phone, this will assist our Optometrist to provide the best care plan for you. If you have glasses to collect and they have been paid for, VAHS can arrange contactless delivery to your home. If your glasses haven't been paid for, you can contact the ACO clinic to pay for these in person or over the phone. Due to the Stage 4 restrictions, the Optometry Clinic at VAHS has been postponed indefinitely and has been moved to our clinic in Carlton, not far from VAHS. We are still offering our high standard of care and we are open Monday-Friday 8:30-5pm. Once we have a spokesperson, I’ll send over some photos for social, too)


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