Fred Hollows foundation director bags award for creating ‘positive social change’
Founding Director of The Fred Hollows Foundation Gabi Hollows has been named one of the top 25 Australians generating positive social change in the Impact 25 Awards.
Gabi also received the Judge’s Choice Award for Collaboration at a virtual ceremony held on 31 March 2021.
Since the 1970s Gabi has been dedicated to restoring sight to people who are needlessly blind and vision impaired.
After receiving eye surgery as a toddler, Gabi studied to become an orthoptist so she could pay forward the life-changing surgery she received and improve other people’s quality of life.
A few years after she met Fred, they embarked on the Royal Australian College of Ophthalmologists’ National Trachoma and Eye Health Program, visiting over 465 Indigenous communities in the Australian outback together with Aboriginal community leaders and a team of eye health specialists.
Over two years, the team screened over 100,000 patients, provided surgery, administered treatment, and delivered individually-prescribed glasses.
The program was the first of its kind in Australia and shaped the health sector’s approach to involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in decisions that affect them. It halved the rate of Indigenous blindness in Australia at the time.
In the months before Fred died in 1993, Gabi and Fred established The Fred Hollows Foundation with a group of friends. She continues to be actively involved in and champion The Foundation’s work.
The Foundation has since restored sight to more than 2.5 million people.
Gabi congratulated the other award recipients and thanked those who nominated and voted for her.
“I am incredibly honoured to be named among some of Australia’s finest social champions who are making an indelible difference to the world’s most disadvantaged,” Gabi said.
“But I am above all proud of The Fred Hollows Foundation’s supporters from Australia and all over the world, who helped us continue our sight-restoring work in 2020.
“For me, a world in which no person is needlessly blind has always been the end goal. If we can work ourselves out of a job, then our work is done,” she said.