Summer Hill MP Jo Haylen has welcomed the announcement that inner west kids from low socio-economic backgrounds will be given free glasses under a Daley Labor Government.
Under Labor’s plan, 52,000 schoolchildren from Kindergarten to Year 3 at NSW schools with a low socio-educational
index will have their eyes tested and those who need glasses will get a pair free.
Children in about 480 schools will benefit based on the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage.
“Labor’s plan will not only help children learn, it will take pressure off the family budget,” Mr Daley said.
Currently there are no programs that ensure that children’s eyes are tested once they begin school. Only four-year-
olds attending preschool are offered vision screening.
Labor will ensure registered optometrists or supervised final year optometry students go directly into schools,
conduct the tests and refer kids, in Kindergarten to Year 3, for free follow-ups and free glasses.
While eye tests are free under Medicare, research indicates some parents may avoid taking their children to an
optometrist due to concerns about costs.
Without access to free eyesight testing in school, many children and their parents could be unaware of vision
The existing means-tested NSW Government’s Spectacles Program misses kids that don’t detect they have a vision
problem and doesn’t guarantee glasses to those that need them.
A recent survey found one third of children under the age of 14 has never had an eye test. If vision problems are left undiagnosed in children there is a risk they can be misdiagnosed with learning difficulties.
This policy has been fully funded and costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO).
Quotes attributable to Jo Haylen MP, Member for Summer Hill
"Kids can't learn if they can't see to read.
"I've heard stories of local schools and teachers paying for kids' glasses themselves because they know there's no other way to provide glasses and give these kids the start they need."
Quotes attributable to George Tsenkas, George Tsenkas Optometry, Marrickville
“This initiative will help level the playing field as undetected and untreated visual problems can lead to learning and behavioural diffiuclties now and into the future.
"In a country as affluent as Australia, communities with a low socio-economic index shouldn't be disadvantaged."
Quotes attributable to Michael Daley, Leader of the Opposition
“I want all kids in NSW to have the same chance at school. Good vision is critical to good learning.
“I don’t want any child falling through the cracks because they missed out on an eye test or glasses in their early
Quotes attributable to Jihad Dib, Shadow Minister for Education
“Kids with uncorrected vision can find it hard to concentrate at school, especially as early learning is often visual.
"There’s plenty of evidence that shows this leads to disengagement and ultimately, poorer academic results.
"Undiagnosed vision problems can also affect a child’s ability to fully participate and thrive in all aspects of school
life, including sport and other extracurricular activities.”