The Optometry Associationof Australia’s Tasmanian division said the scheme being offered across the State was an Australian first. The Red Cross identifies refugees in need, matching them to volunteer optometrists, who provide them with eye care and glasses.
Refugees on bridging visas are integrated into the community awaiting final asylum approval but do not qualify for Centrelink, Medicare or any other government assistance.
“No one should go without eye care and if we can make a difference for these people and to their quality of life, then we are very pleased to offer our services,” participating optometrist Lee Baumwol said.
“These people have enough to deal with, coming half way around the world to seek asylum, and we at the OAA have a strong community service commitment and are happy to help out.”
Ms. Al Hines, the head of Migrant Services for Red Cross Tasmania says the inability to access health care services often provided a significant barrier to successfully transition into Australian society.
“The difference a pair of glasses makes to these clients is immense. We’ve seen clients’ confidence grow as they feel more able to participate in the community,” she said.