Afternoon Tea in support of IDEAS Van Project
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Kaye and I are delighted to welcome you all to Government House this afternoon to celebrate the success of the Indigenous Diabetes Eyes and Screening service – the IDEAS van.
This afternoon tea is an opportunity for me, as Governor, to thank the many doctors and clinicians who volunteer their services for the project, and to recognise the medical and corporate partners who have made this unique project possible.
As Governor, I am acutely aware that diabetes has become an intractable health problem in our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations and that one of the consequences is that blindness for Indigenous people over the age of forty now stands at a staggering ten times the rate in the non-Indigenous population.
In a situation where conventional approaches have had only limited success and where it is difficult for people to reach a major centre for screening and treatment, it was obvious that imaginative, outside-the-square thinking was needed to close the widening health gap.
When the solution came, it was from a long way outside that square: to take retinal screening and specialist ophthalmic services directly to rural and remote communities through a custom-designed, mobile facility with treatment rooms and state-of-the-art equipment, staffed by ophthalmic specialists and professionals. The Van would connect and partner with a network Aboriginal Medical Services in communities all around the country.
Queensland Health shared this bold vision and made a generous donation to Diamond Jubilee Partnerships Ltd to enable the IDEAS van to be created as Queensland’s contribution to the Queen Elizabeth the Second Diamond Jubilee Celebrations.
Partnerships with professional bodies, corporate supporters and the Royal Flying Doctor Service provided further support, enabling this extraordinary ‘practice on wheels’ to travel over 200,000 kilometres since it began operation just over three years ago, reaching thousands of patients in a total of fifty-one population centres and their surrounding communities.
It is a wonderful Queensland success story and on behalf of all Queenslanders, especially our Indigenous peoples, I congratulate the team behind the success of the IDEAS van. I further thank the corporate partners, professional bodies, medical professionals and generous individuals who support this remarkable project. It will leave a lasting, positive legacy.