Clinical TeamOur Clinical AdvisorsCataract Surgery
The three most common complications of diabetes within the Indigenous population are refractive change, cataract and diabetic retinopathy. These account for over 90% of reduced vision amongst Indigenous patients. On the IDEAS Van, a clinical team of an ophthalmologist, optometrist and an ophthalmic assistant work together in the three clinic rooms utilising state of the art equipment to manage these conditions.

All services on the Van are bulk billed. The focus is on the engagement of local clinicians so that there is continuity of care in between Van visits. However, some rural and remote centres benefit from fly-in clinicians who meet the Van as it makes one of its many stops on the 5,000km journey around Queensland every month.

Professor Paul Mitchell

Professor Paul Mitchell, MBBS, MD, PhD, FRANZCO, FRACS, FRCOphth, FAFPHM, is Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology & Eye Health, Westmead Clinical School, Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research, the University of Sydney.

Professor Paul Mitchell is a world renowned medical retinal specialist and Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Sydney, and Director of Ophthalmology for the Sydney West Area Health Service. His clinical work focuses on the management of AMD, diabetic and other vascular retinopathies and on systemic diseases and their effects on the eye. His research has targeted the epidemiology of eye disease and clinical aspects of retinal diseases. Professor Mitchell has made significant contributions in the fields of public health and ophthalmic epidemiology via the landmark Blue Mountains Eye Study (BMES), the first large Australian population-based study of age-related eye disease, already yielding almost 300 international publications including in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The study examined prevalence, incidence, risk factors and impacts of the key causes of vision loss, vascular events, hearing, nutrition and other findings of systemic-ocular links, and key impacts of visual impairment on independent living and quality of life.


Dr Rowan Porter

Dr Rowan Porter is Chairman of the Queensland Branch and Councillor for the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO).

He has fellowships in both medical retina (Moorfields, London) and Indigenous health (Dame Ida Mann fellowship, Alice Springs). In London, his Retinal fellowship majored in diabetic retinopathy and inherited retinal disease at the leading ophthalmic hospital in Europe, Moorfields Eye Hospital.

His past experience includes working full time in Alice Springs Ophthalmology Department visiting remote Indigenous communities with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) to deliver diabetic retinopathy clinics throughout Central Australia. He has also worked with the RFDS in Western Queensland. While working at Cairns Base Hospital Ophthalmology Department he served Far North Queensland and Torres Strait Indigenous communities.

Dr Porter is now a staff specialist ophthalmologist at the Inala Centre of Excellence in Indigenous Health 2010-2015. Other recent duties have included Chairman of the Retinal Imaging Group, convener of RANZCO (QLD) Educational Course, coordinator of the Homeless Connect ophthalmology service and Inherited Retinal Disease Unit at QEI as visiting specialist.

He is a member of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Retinal Specialists, the American Society of Retinal Specialists and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.


Dr Raymond Blackman

Raymond is a General Practitioner at the Palm Island Children and Family Centre. He established this centre with Dr Vicky Stonehouse in November 2013. After graduating in Medicine from James Cook University in 2006, Raymond completed his internship at Townsville Hospital before moving to Palm Island and the Joyce Palmer Health Service as a GP Registrar. On completion he moved to the Aboriginal Health Service as a GP in Townsville which he combines with his work on Palm Island.

Raymond grew up in Ayr in North Queensland. Before studying medicine, he worked around Australia and overseas. He spent a year playing in the national rugby league competition for the North Queensland Cowboys before making the decision to study medicine.

Raymond has been a strong advocate of the IDEAS Van model and the positive effect it has had on the eye health of the Palm Island Community. He lobbied to have the IDEAS Van “cross the ocean” to Palm Island, which it does – 5 times a year.


Dr Tony Russell

Tony is an Endocrinologist and Director of the Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane. Tony is the Co-Chair of the Qld Health Statewide Diabetes Clinical Network and has recently chaired the Steering Committee developing the Queensland Diabetes Services: Statewide Health Service Strategy 2013.

Tony’s research interests have focused on diabetes care delivery. In partnership with Prof Claire Jackson, Tony was instrumental in developing the innovative model of care managing complex type 2 diabetes in the community with up-skilled GPs at Inala Primary Care. As a specialist in diabetes management, and with his experience at the interface of primary and specialist care, Tony has provided significant leadership for the diabetes component of an NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence looking at the interface between primary and secondary care. Tony has implemented Telehealth services for Diabetes and Endocrine management at the Princess Alexandra Hospital; now providing services to over 46 sites in the State. Tony is also CIB on a NHMRC partnership grant lead by Prof Brian Oldenburg, implementing an Information and Communication Technology platform to improve the health of people with Type 2 diabetes.


Mr David Bradley

Since qualifying as an Optometrist in 1994, David has worked at all levels of corporate Optometry in South Australia, Central Queensland, the ACT and the Northern Territory. For the past 11 years David has been in private practice in Brisbane City. He is also a teaching Optometrist at the QUT School of Optometry and maintains regular trips to remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. David has been a Member of the Optometry Australia Qld/NT Board since 2009. It is from this position of Public Health chair for OA that his association began with the IDEAS Van.

David has been working in the Ngaanyatjarra Homelands on the NT-WA border since 1999 providing primary eye care to a cluster of 8 isolated Aboriginal communities. His work in remote communities has awarded him an appreciation of the richness of language and culture in Aboriginal communities.


The IDEAS Van is not equipped to conduct cataract surgery but through special arrangements with the Mater Hospital in Brisbane and Roma Hospital in South West Queensland, IDEAS Patients can receive this vital surgery.

In February and March 2016, 54 IDEAS Patients travelled to Roma for the surgery when funding became available through Check UP (who manage outreach funding on behalf of the Commonwealth). The IDEAS Van team managed the three-day event for each group of patients on three occasions.

With the support of the Aboriginal Medical Services, patients travelled from 15 communities to Roma with their Carers and Health Workers. The group stayed together for two nights in Roma and the patients were escorted for their pre-op measurements, the next day for their operation, and the following day for their post op (the photos tell the story).

All patients were accommodated and cared for through the three days providing a real sense of community and comfort knowing that they were not alone. A highlight for many was to join the eye surgeon (Dr Steve Rodwell) at the welcome BBQ.

Once the patients returned home they attended the IDEAS Van for their monthly follow-up appointment and ongoing treatment.

A short film of the ‘Cataract Blitz’ can be viewed from our home page.