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Local business and artist collaborate to save sight

Jun 14, 2023

In a true testament to the power of community-driven initiatives, Specsavers Richmond, has embarked on a partnership with The Fred Hollows Foundation to make a meaningful impact on Aboriginal health. This collaboration aims to bridge the eye health gap for First Nations people while celebrating the rich history and artwork of Martumili Artist Helen Dale Simpson, whose work holds a fascinating connection to the iconic movie “Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence” by Phillip Noyce.

The Fred Hollows Foundation, established by renowned Australian ophthalmologist Fred Hollows operates in over 25 countries and has restored sight to over three million people worldwide. Through its partnership with Specsavers Richmond, the foundation has been able to help address the eye health challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples..

Specsavers Richmond has contributed over $15,000 to The Fred Hollows Foundation’s programs in Australia through their community program. This substantial donation adds to the eyecare retailer’s overall contribution of $6 million. However, both organizations recognize that there is still much work to be done to ensure equitable eye health for all, and they are calling on the local community to rally together for a brighter future.

“We’re proud to support programs within NSW to help fund important initiatives. Donations received will help fund the Outback Eye Service (OES), which is focused on providing eye care screening and treatment to areas that are critically under-funded, under-equipped and under-staffed,” Richmond Specsavers Dispensing Partner, Leanne Maree Lundt said.

Eye health statistics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are alarming, with 90% of vision loss in this population being treatable or preventable. The Fred Hollows Foundation, in its 12-year partnership with Specsavers, has made significant strides in addressing this issue. They have screened over 100,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, performed over 4,000 cataract surgeries, and conducted a further 15,800 sight-saving operations. Their efforts have also included over 7,000 diabetic retinopathy procedures and the training of over 800 individuals to deliver culturally responsive care to First Nations people.

To support The Fred Hollows Foundation’s vital work, Specsavers Richmond is encouraging locals to visit their store and purchase limited-edition glasses adorned with the artwork of Martumili Artist Helen Dale Simpson. For every pair sold, $25 will be directly donated to The Foundation. Helen, who recently received sight-saving cataract surgery thanks to The Fred Hollows Foundation, intimately understands the importance of their work.

Helen’s “dreamtime” art adorns a limited edition of glasses at Specsavers Richmond.

Born at Jigalong mission around 1943, Helen grew up at the Christian mission, where she would venture into the bush to hunt and camp with extended family during weekends and holidays. The mission was initially established as a support store for workers constructing the Rabbit-Proof Fence, a renowned landmark that gained international acclaim through the film adaptation of Doris Pilkington Garimara’s book, “Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence.” 

Her pieces often depict contemporary Martu life in a post-colonial setting, incorporating motifs such as houses and heavy industrial vehicles alongside significant Martu sites.

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