In Australia's diverse charity sector, there are thousands of fantastic stories about the impact charities have on their communities.

We recently spoke with registered charity Cataract Kids Australia Ltd about their work, goals and challenges.

baby with patch
Photo: Sarah Craven Photography

What does your charity do?

Families of babies and children whose vision is affected by cataracts face many challenges. They may feel isolated and unsupported, have difficulty in accessing appropriate care, and find the practicalities of managing their child's condition overwhelming. Cataract Kids Australia was founded by parents concerned about the impacts of these challenges on other families. We aim to ensure that babies and children affected by cataract, and their families, have access to the best support and information available and are able to connect to the services they need. We aim to work with clinicians in support of their information and professional development needs, and to better connect both clinicians and families with those who conduct research into childhood cataract causes, diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing management. We hope that by working together - families, researchers and clinicians - we can achieve the best possible outcomes; not only the visual outcomes for our cataract kids, but also benefits for family wellbeing, clinical expertise and research relevance and impact.

What is the ultimate goal for your charity – what do you want to achieve?

Our goal is ultimately to improve the visual outcomes of children with cataract. Along the way we want to ensure families feel more connected and informed, that clinicians have the tools they need to provide optimal care, and that researchers' work is informed by and responsive to the needs of children affected by cataract.

What is the most rewarding part?

The most rewarding part is when families of older kids affected by cataracts say – this is so needed, I wish we had had something like Cataract Kids Australia when my child was born. It's the sense that we are really filling a gap in support and information, and giving families a voice. Because cataracts are not life threatening and the child isn't 'sick', families often feel that they shouldn't complain – but the challenges they face are real, and can be overwhelming, in terms of multiple surgery, the risk of other eye problems, dealing with contact lenses and daily patching of a tiny baby, the costs of lenses and glasses, and a sense that no-one understands.

What is the biggest challenge faced by your charity?

I'd say the main challenge has been the massive amount of red tape involved in setting our organisation up on a formal footing, particularly with the state-based donation laws that vary so hugely. We wouldn't have got anywhere without pro-bono legal support. The biggest ongoing challenge is the difficulty of securing funding for operational, rather than project, costs. We are entirely run by volunteers.

How important is the support of donors and volunteers to your charity?

Without donors and volunteers we wouldn't exist. It's a team effort and we are so grateful to everyone who contributes.

Find out more about Cataract Kids Australia Ltd on their website, or via their social media channels:

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