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Aboriginal Health College commemorates Brien Holden

The artwork ‘Journey tracks to sacred sites’ by Tony Sorby

Sydney, Australia, 13 March 2017: Professor Brien Holden has been remembered for his contributions to Aboriginal eye health at a special ceremony at the Aboriginal Health College in Sydney. The artwork ‘Journey tracks to sacred sites’ by Tony Sorby, was presented to the college by the Brien Holden Vision Institute and Holden family to commemorate Professor Holden.

Sandra Bailey, CEO of the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW (AH&MRC), which established the college in 2009, thanked Professor Holden and the Brien Holden Vision Institute, for supporting the building of the college and for their long-term contributions to Aboriginal eye health in NSW.

Since 1999, Brien Holden Vision Institute has worked in partnership with Aboriginal eye health coordinators and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to provide visiting optometry services in now almost 200 regional, rural and remote locations across NSW and Northern Territory, for over 10,000 people each year. To strategically redress the inequalities in eye care that exist in Australia, it has also been guiding policy through participation in relevant sector working groups and committees, conducting research, developing and delivering training for primary health care practitioners in eye care assessments and referrals, and collaborating with others working in these areas.

Professor Brian Layland OAM, Chair of Brien Holden Vision Institute, who unveiled the painting, said it was appropriate that people visiting the college will be reminded of Brien Holden’s work.

“Millions of people in developing communities were saved from visual impairment or blindness as a result of Brien’s efforts, which resulted in them receiving clinical eye care,” said Professor Layland. “Many more millions in developed countries received superior optometric care as a result of Brien’s research at the Brien Holden Vision Institute.

“Closer to home, Brien played an important role in the establishment and operation of the Aboriginal Vision Program and in the construction of this magnificent building, the Aboriginal Health College.

“I am sure he derived a great deal of satisfaction as a result of being able to contribute so much to the vision and eye health of Aboriginal people.”

Attendees at the ceremony included the Holden family; Paul Lynch, Member for Liverpool in the NSW Legislative Assembly and former Indigenous Affairs Minister for the NSW Government between 2007 and 2011, who ensured the college had the necessary funding to be built; local federal member, Matt Thistlethwaite MP; and federal member for Watson, Tony Burke MP.

About ‘Journey tracks to sacred sites
Aboriginal artist, Tony Sorby explained, “This painting tells the story of Meeting Places which take place in Kamilaroi, also the Aboriginal sacred sites and their connections in the tribe (Kamilaroi is a tribe located in New South Wales). It is a way of looking into the land and Aboriginal tribal area. It shows the way of living.”

Professor Brian Layland and Sandra Bailey unveiling 'Journey tracks to sacred sites'