Pacific Awareness

Albinism and Pacifica

Fakalofa Lahi Atu. Talofa Lava. Kia Orana. Bula Vi Naka. Taloha Ni. 
Our colleagues at Pacific Services of Blind  Low Vision NZ provide advice to members regarding the full range of services offered, and ensure services provided are culturally appropriate.  Albinism Trust is pleased to collaborate with the Pacific Services team helping Pacific people understand blindness and reduction of preventable blindness in Pacific communities.   Pacific Services functions include facilitating and assisting the Pacific Island clients to access services with ease, preparing clients for needs assessments, providing on-going engagement and being the key contact for the clients.  Providing cultural support and advice to clients, staff and external service providers is another vital part of the Pacific Services role to help ensure services are delivered in a culturally appropriate manner. The team also works closely with the Client Services staff and external organisations to ensure that the cultural needs of the Pacific Island clients and their families are met.
Increasing awareness and providing Blindness Awareness and Prevention (BAP) programme’s to the Pacific Island families and communities are another important element of the role of Pacific Services.   The key objectives are to raise awareness on blindness related issues and eye care, prevent unnecessary blindness from preventable eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma, etc., and to encourage Pacific Island people to access and utilise  services.
This is done through working with different Pacific Island service providers, Diabetic Clinics, Churches,   PI Radio stations, etc.   BAP programme’s were also put in place to help new and existing members and their families gain a better understanding of the eye condition the member has, the impact it has on the person’s life, support they can receive from Blind Low Vision NZ  and how they (family) can support the person with vision impairment. More and more families take up this offer and find it very useful as most of them have no or very limited knowledge about the eye conditions and their effects. As a result of the Blindness Awareness Programme’s, a few people have registered as members each year, some are in the process of registering (awaiting ophthalmic reports), and more requests for community and family awareness programme’s are received.
We have not had any specific awareness sessions for people/families with albinism as we have not had any requests yet.   We are happy to work with the Albinism Trust to see how we can work together and support members with this condition.    On the database, there are some 42 Pacifica clients currently registered with Albinism;   36 in Auckland,   4 in Wellington,  1 in Waikato and  1 in Christchurch.
Future Work
Raising awareness within the Pacific Island and the wider community requires ongoing commitment, dedication and effort to get the results we want.  Pacific Services has done this for many years, and the results are a bit slow coming but improving.   I believe it is everyone’s business whether they are staff, members/clients, consumer groups, volunteers or others to raise awareness on blindness, the  issues associated with it,   and the difference the services available from Blind Low Vision NZ can make to their lives to achieve  a ‘Life Without Limits’.  This requires a co-ordinated plan, resources and monitoring.

Veta Endemann

Service Support Manager/PI Cultural Adviser.
Fale Kotuku.  Manurewa

For more information, call free phone  0800 24 33 33 and ask for Pacific Services.