Fred Hollows

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Fred Hollows
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Frederick Cossom Hollows

(1929-04-09)9 April 1929
Dunedin, New Zealand
Died10 February 1993(1993-02-10) (aged 63)
Nationality New Zealander/Australian
OccupationOphthalmologist and Philanthropist
Spouse(s) Mary Skiller (m.1958–1975)
Gabi O'Sullivan (m.1980–1993)
Children7 [ citation needed ]

Frederick Cossom Hollows, AC (9 April 1929 10 February 1993) was a New Zealand-Australian ophthalmologist who became known for his work in restoring eyesight for thousands of people in Australia and many other countries. It has been estimated that more than one million people in the world can see today because of initiatives instigated by Hollows, the most notable example being The Fred Hollows Foundation.

New Zealanders ethnic group

New Zealanders, colloquially known as Kiwis, are people associated with New Zealand, sharing a common history, culture, and language. People of various ethnicities and national origins are citizens of New Zealand, governed by its nationality law.

The Fred Hollows Foundation is a non-profit aid organization based in Australia and founded in 1992 by eye surgeon Fred Hollows. The Foundation focuses on treating and preventing blindness and other vision problems. It operates in Australia, The Pacific, South and South East Asia, and Africa.


Early life

Fred Cossom Hollows was one of a family of four boys; the others being Colin, John and Maurice. All were born in Dunedin, New Zealand, to Joseph and Clarice (Marshall) Hollows. The family lived in Dunedin for the first seven years of his life. [1] He had one year of informal primary schooling at North East Valley Primary School and began attending Palmerston North Boys' High School when he was 13. Hollows received his BA degree from Victoria University of Wellington. He briefly studied at a seminary, but decided against a life in the clergy. After observing the doctors at a mental hospital during some charity work, he instead enrolled at Otago Medical School.

Dunedin City in Otago, New Zealand

Dunedin is the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the principal city of the Otago region. Its name comes from Dùn Èideann, the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland.

North East Valley Suburb in Dunedin City, Otago, New Zealand

North East Valley is a suburb of the New Zealand city of Dunedin.

Palmerston North Boys High School

Palmerston North Boys' High School is a traditional boys school located in Palmerston North, New Zealand.

While living in Dunedin, he was an active member of the New Zealand Alpine Club and made several first ascents of mountains in the Mount Aspiring/Tititea region of Central Otago. In 1951 Edmund Hillary was on a test run for Everest, and was backpacking up the Tasman Glacier towards Malte Brun Hut; all five were carrying loads of 70 lb (32 kg) or more. He was met by a young man (Hollows) who came bounding down to meet me and offered to carry my load up to the hut. No one had ever offered to carry my load before, but it was too good an offer to refuse. I handed my pack over and saw his legs buckle slightly at the knees. [2]

The New Zealand Alpine Club (NZAC) was founded in 1891 and is one of the oldest alpine clubs in the world. The NZAC is the national climbing organization in New Zealand and is a member of the Union Internationale des Associations d'Alpinisme. It has over 4000 members who are spread across twelve sections, eleven in New Zealand and one in Australia, plus members in other countries. It runs a national office based in Christchurch.

Central Otago is located in the inland part of the Otago region in the South Island of New Zealand. The motto for the area is "A World of Difference".

Edmund Hillary New Zealand mountaineer

Sir Edmund Percival Hillary was a New Zealand mountaineer, explorer, and philanthropist. On 29 May 1953, Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest. They were part of the ninth British expedition to Everest, led by John Hunt. From 1985 to 1988 he served as New Zealand's High Commissioner to India and Bangladesh and concurrently as Ambassador to Nepal.

Hollows was a member of the Communist Party of New Zealand during the 1950s and 1960s. [3]

Communist Party of New Zealand

The Communist Party of New Zealand (CPNZ) was a Communist political party in New Zealand which existed from March 1921 until the early 1990s. Although spurred to life by events in Soviet Russia in the aftermath of World War I, the party had roots in pre-existing revolutionary socialist and syndicalist organisations, including in particular the independent Wellington Socialist Party, supporters of the Industrial Workers of the World in the Auckland region, and a network of impossiblist study groups of miners on the west coast of the South Island.

Hollows was married twice: in 1958 to Mary Skiller, who died in 1975, and in 1980 to Gabi O'Sullivan.

Gabi Hollows AO is one of Australia's 100 Living Treasures. She was also given the Advance Australia Award for Community Service, and was made Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International.

Hollows was originally a New Zealand citizen. He declined the award of honorary Officer of the Order of Australia in 1985. He adopted Australian citizenship in 1989 and was named Australian of the Year in 1990. [4] He accepted the substantive award of Companion of the Order of Australia in 1991.

Order of Australia National order of chivalry of the Commonwealth of Australia

The Order of Australia is an order of chivalry established on 14 February 1975 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, to recognise Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or meritorious service. Before the establishment of the order, Australian citizens received British honours.

The Australian of the Year is an award conferred on an Australian citizen by the National Australia Day Council, a not-for-profit Australian Government–owned social enterprise.

Medical career

In 1961, he went to Moorfields Eye Hospital in England to study ophthalmology. He then did post-graduate work in Wales before moving in 1965 to Australia, where he became associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. From 1965–1992 he chaired the ophthalmology division overseeing the teaching departments at the University of New South Wales, and the Prince of Wales and Prince Henry hospitals.

Early in the 1970s, Hollows worked with the Gurindji people at Wave Hill in the Northern Territory and then with the people around Bourke and other isolated New South Wales towns, stations and Aboriginal communities. He became especially concerned with the high number of Aboriginal people who had eye disorders, particularly trachoma. In July 1971, with Mum (Shirl) Smith and others, he set up the Aboriginal Medical Service in suburban Redfern in Sydney, and subsequently assisted in the establishment of medical services for Aboriginal People throughout Australia. [5]

He was responsible for organising the Royal Australian College of Ophthalmologists to establish the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program (the "Trachoma Program") 1976–1978, with funding by the Federal Government. [6] Hollows himself spent three years visiting Aboriginal communities to provide eye care and carry out a survey of eye defects. More than 460 Aboriginal communities were visited, and 62,000 Aboriginal people were examined, leading to 27,000 being treated for trachoma and 1,000 operations being carried out. [7]

Overseas work

His visits to Nepal in 1985, Eritrea in 1987, and Vietnam in 1991 resulted in training programs to train local technicians to perform eye surgery. [8] [9] Hollows organised intraocular lens laboratories in Eritrea and Nepal to manufacture and provide lenses at cost, which was about A$10 (approximately US$7.50) each. Both laboratories started production after his death, in 1993. [10]

The Fred Hollows Foundation was launched as an Australian charitable foundation in Sydney on 3 September 1992 to continue the work of Fred Hollows in providing eye care for the underprivileged and poor, and to improve the health of indigenous Australians.[ citation needed ] The Foundation has also registered as a charity organisation in the United Kingdom where Fred did much of his training, and in his country of birth, New Zealand.

Opinions regarding HIV/AIDS

In 1992, Hollows spoke at the Alice Springs National Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Conference, and argued that some areas of the AIDS campaign were being inadequately dealt with at the time. According to The Australian's Martin Thomas, Hollows stated that some homosexuals were "recklessly spreading the virus"; therefore, the safe sex campaign was an inadequate way of dealing with the issue. To contain the disease, Hollows argued that promiscuity needed to be addressed. Hollows observed the spread of AIDS in contemporary African communities and he was concerned that AIDS would spread as vehemently through Aboriginal communities. [11] [12]


Farnham House, the Hollows home in the suburb of Randwick Farnham House-2.jpg
Farnham House, the Hollows home in the suburb of Randwick

Hollows died in Sydney, Australia in 1993 at the age of 63. The cause of his death was metastatic renal cancer primarily affecting his lungs and brain. He had been diagnosed with the disease six years earlier, in 1987. Upon his death the Chief Minister of the ACT, Rosemary Follett, described Hollows to her parliamentary colleagues as "an egalitarian and a self-named anarcho-syndicalist who wanted to see an end to the economic disparity which exists between the First and Third Worlds and who believed in no power higher than the best expressions of the human spirit found in personal and social relationships." [13]

Hollows was given a state funeral service at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, though he was an atheist. [14] In accordance with his wishes, he was interred in Bourke, where he had worked in the early 1970s. [15] He was survived by his wife Gabi Hollows (an Australian Living Treasure), and children Tanya, Ben, Cam, Emma, Anna-Louise, Ruth and Rosa.

A reserve near his old home in the Sydney suburb of Randwick was named Fred Hollows Reserve in 1993.

Recognition and awards

See also

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  1. "Fact Sheet Fred Hollows" (PDF). The Fred Hollows Foundation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 October 2013.
  2. Hillary, Edmund (1999). View from the Summit. Auckland: Doubleday/Random House. pp. 69, 70. ISBN   0-908821-09-3.
  3. Editorial: Fred Hollows – GreenLeft online. 17 February 1993
  4. Lewis, Wendy (2010). Australians of the Year. Pier 9 Press. ISBN   978-1-74196-809-5.
  5. Mum Shirl, Mummy Shirl: an autobiography, Mammoth Australia, 1992, pp 107 ISBN   1-86330-144-5
  6. Powerhouse Museum, National Trachoma and Eye Health Program 1976 – improving eye health in remote communities, Accessed 14 August 2008
  7. Hugh R Taylor, Trachoma in Australia , Medical Journal of Australia 2001; 175: 371–372, Accessed 13 August 2008
  8. Ruit S, Brian G, Hollows F., On the practicalities of eye camp cataract extraction and intraocular lens implantation in Nepal, Ophthalmic Surgery. 1990 Dec;21(12):862-5. PMID   2096350 Accessed 13 August 2008
  9. Fred Hollows and Garry Brain, Eye surgery in Eritrea , British Journal of Ophthalmology 1991 January; 75(1): 64. Accessed 13 August 2008
  10. "The Fred Hollows Foundation".
  11. The Hissink File – August 2006 Archived 26 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  12. AIDS – Have we got it Right? Archived 3 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine – ADF
  13. Rosemary Follett, ACT Parliamentary Hansard 16 February 1993
  14. Hildebrand, Joe (11 February 2008). "Fred Hollows remembered at ceremony in Bourke". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  15. "Fred in Bourke". The Fred Hollows Foundation International. Archived from the original on 17 February 2012.
  16. Humanist Society of Victoria Australian Humanists of the Year Archived 30 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 13 August 2008
  17. The 100 most influential Australians – The Bulletin and The Sydney Morning Herald. 27 June 2006
  18. Fred Hollows Featured on Australian $1 Coin – Coin Update News. 19 July 2010
  19. Fred Hollows coin released [ permanent dead link ], Australian Geographic, 8 July 2010
  20. Goodwin, Eileen (8 September 2016). "Street named for surgeon". Otago Daily Times.
  21. Incat ferries bound for Denmark & Sydney Harbour The Mercury 21 April 2017