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Eye health focus for LEI and BHPB

REDUCING debilitating eye disease in the remote Pilbara region’s Aboriginal communities has recently become a goal of the Lions Eye Institute (LEI) and BHP Billiton.LEI has, with the help of program sponsor BHPB, been able to recruit and train Aboriginal eye health workers to screen 110 Indigenous people in the remote communities. The institute aims to complete 5,000 screenings by the beginning of 2007. BHPB has contributed $240,000 in project funding to the program since it started. Aboriginal eye health worker Cindy Whitby was recruited by LEI to screen for diabetic retinopathy and cataract, two of the major causes of blindness in the general population and particularly prevalent in the Aboriginal community. “The screening with a portable camera only takes about 15 minutes, and when people learn it can save them from blindness they are happy to have it done,” Ms Whitby said. About a third of people with diabetes can be expected to develop diabetic retinopathy, with a third of those likely to face a threat to their eyesight – a number that is probably higher in diabetic Aborigines as they tend to develop more serious complications assoc-iated with the disease. Curtin research centre to boost rural maths, science and ICT A NEW educational research centre now open at Curtin University of Technology aims to boost the science, technology and maths skills of primary and secondary school students in rural and regional Western Australia. Curtin Department of Education head Len Sparrow said the centre was the state’s hub of the National Centre of Science, Information and Communication Technology and Mathematics Education for Rural and Regional Australia (SiMERR).Earlier this year, the Federal Government’s Department of Transport and Regional Services made available $4.95 million for research into ways rural education could be improved, and SiMERR WA secured about $250,000 of this, Mr Sparrow said. SiMERR WA aims to help students by boosting educational research and resources, building stronger networks, and providing more support for isolated teachers and students.The centre is part of a national network supported by the Department of Transport and Regional Services in collaboration with Curtin and the SiMERR National Centre at the University of New England, in New South Wales. UWA geologist’s new dating procedure

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