On Monday, 8 May at 9.00am, Geelong’s Oberon South Primary School became the third Victorian school to receive vision screening from the Australian charity, Essilor Vision Foundation and Deakin University’s (Geelong) School of Medicine, Optometry Program.

But this school is somewhat different to other Victorian schools that have come before it in that Principal Glen Lauder and his staff are embracing an “innovation revolution” to turn back the tide of falling enrolments.

Oberon South currently has just forty-five enrolments, from Prep to Year 6 and Mr Lauder said, “It’s now time for action.

“Oberon South is a proud, historic Geelong school that deserves to have a full quota of students – we’d like to see classrooms full again. Together with my inspirational teaching team, we intend to do just that.

“80% of the information we receive is through our eyes and, based on the works of the Foundation and Deakin University, we can anticipate that a large number of our students are denied good vision which a pair of free, prescription spectacles could restore.”

Foundation CEO Greg Johnson said, “We were touched by the Oberon South story – a caring school with declining enrolments, reaching out for that point of difference to make classrooms full again.

“Good vision is the key to enhanced academic results and positive behavioural changes.”

“Across Australia we are witnessing around 40% of school children screened requiring follow-up comprehensive, optometric examination with around one-third of those requiring the free prescription spectacles we provide.”

“We can’t wait to start screening at Oberon South to work with Glen and his team to implement an ongoing, vision screening program. We’re dedicated to ensuring that every Oberon South student has access to the best vision nature and technology can deliver.”

In a further development, five students from Barwon Valley School will be “trialled” at the screening with the goal of having the Foundation launch a program at their school later this year.

Many of the students at Barwon Valley have a range of additional needs, including Autism Spectrum Disorder and sensory, physical, social, medical and communication impairments.

As well, Member for Geelong Christine Couzens MP spent much of the morning at Oberon South witnessing the screening program, thus giving her the opportunity to inform parliamentary colleagues about the initiative.