Working with Aboriginal communities

The ACO has strong and established relationships with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander service providers and community members. These relationships inform our practice, and we are committed to further strengthening relationships and promoting partnerships with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander stakeholders. We are involved in a number of partnerships, projects and service delivery models that demonstrates our reconciliation journey to date.

Victorian Aboriginal Health Service


The ACO has run a regular optometry clinic at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS) in Fitzroy since 1998. The ACO continues to work in partnership with VAHS to provide a comprehensive eye health service for its patients.

Visiting Optometry Scheme (VOS)


Since 2010, the ACO have been working in partnership with more than 20 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and a number of community health services in urban and regional Victoria, as well as in borders regions in NSW and SA. This scheme, funded by the Rural Workforce Agency Victoria (RWAV), improves access to eye health for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities living in regional and remote areas.

The Victorian Aboriginal Spectacles Subsidy Scheme


The Victorian Aboriginal Spectacles Subsidy Scheme (VASSS) program, which has been developed and managed by the ACO since 2010, is a Victorian State Government Initiative that aims to improve access to high quality visual aids for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Victorians. Through the VASSS program, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities in Victoria are eligible to obtain spectacles for a co-payment of $10. Since its introduction in 2010 until June 2019, over 17,000 pairs of spectacles have been supplied, with important improvement in eye health as a consequence.

Provision of Eye Health Equipment and Training Project


We are involved in the Provision of Eye Health Equipment and Training Project, an Australian Government Department of Health funded initiative. A consortium of five organisations work in partnership to deliver this project based on their existing links and experience in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander eye care in discussion with local and regional stakeholders, and service providers. These organisations are: Brian Holden Vision Institute Foundation, Australian College of Optometry, Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia, Centre for Eye Health and Optometry Australia.

The project is responsible for the procurement and distribution of up to 155 retinal cameras to primary health care clinics, who provide care to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. The project incorporates training on the use of the camera to primary health care workers and general practitioners, with the aim to support increased primary-level access to retinal photography for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people with diabetes.