Julie Heraghty, Chief Executive Officer of the Macular Degeneration Foundation welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement that War Veterans will now be subject to the same measurement of visual acuity as other Australians in order to access Centrelink benefits. Formerly, there was a more stringent test for Veterans to be eligible for a disability pension for the blind.
“Along with other major blind organizations in this country, the Foundation has expressed its concerns about this inequitable situation for quite some time. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in Australia and its incidence is increasing rapidly with the ageing of the population,” said Ms Heraghty.
Ms Heraghty said, “I welcome this decision for War Veterans. Those who fought for our country deserve to be treated in the same manner as all other Australians in regard to social security, especially in accessing a blind pension.”
“The announcement highlights the urgent need for an increase in support and access to low vision services and technology by the Government for the blind and vision impaired community.”
Dr Jim Runciman, a retina specialist, who has fought for this change said, “The Government needs to increase its level of support because of the improvements in technology now available for those who are blind and vision impaired. This includes electronic magnifiers and newer adaptive aids such as speech synthesisers and audio readers.”
“Adequate support and access to this technology and low vision services will allow the blind and vision impaired to maintain personal independence and enhance social integration, reducing isolation, the risk of depression and improving the quality of life,” said Dr Runciman.
25 January 2006