Optical Dispensers, freshly graduated from the Open Training and Education Network (OTEN) and Sydney Institute, celebrated their achievements with industry members, their family and friends on Friday 17 May at Sydney’s Dockside Restaurant in Darling Harbour.
The formal dinner and award presentation was MC’d by James Gibbins, a teacher at OTEN and Sydney Institute. Ms. Cecelia Cilesio, one of the senior TAFE management present on the evening, delivered the opening welcome.
Martin Kocbek, President of the Australian Optical Dispensers Association (ADOA), addressed the graduates, congratulated them on their achievements, and suggested they remember the term ‘PEZ’ when they returned to work the following week.
Not to be confused with those old fashioned sweets that come in a dispenser topped with a cartoon character, he said PEZ stands for:
- Pride (in your achievements and qualifications)
- Enthusiasm (to be at work and willing to do with what it takes to get the job done); and
- Zeal – (to be devoted to being the best optical dispenser possible and to achieve the best outcomes for each patient).
Legend of the Industry
The evening’s guest of honour was John Jackson, OAM, former Chair of the Optical Dispensers Licencing Board (20 years) and former Chair of the Australian Dispensing Opticians Association (32 years).
Mr. Jackson is widely referred to as ‘the legend of the optical dispensing industry’. It was he who unintentionally introduced Australia’s first ever educational course in optical dispensing.
Having grown up in Australia, he undertook formal studies to become an optical mechanic in the United Kingdom. When he returned home some years later, Mr. Jackson’s employer at OPSM asked whether he still had his study papers. He did, and those papers formed the basis of the OPSM dispensing course, which later became the basis of the OTEN course.
A career lies ahead but the learning will never cease. Each working day or week will bring a new challenge – never hesitate to ask advice, or to discuss a difficult prescription
Go For Greener Grass
During his presentation, Mr. Jackson inspired the graduates with his life experiences and urged them to continue their professional education and work to change the profession as it stands to day. “You’ve heard the expression the grass is always greener. But that doesn’t mean you can’t knock the fence down, make a hole in it and move forward. Change the profession – nothing’s impossible, if you gather together you can do it,” he said.
He gave the example of the United Kingdom, where he said dispensing opticians are a more politically oriented profession, working to expand their scope of work. He said that with an extra “one or two years training”, dispensing opticians are now able to do refractions. Mr. Jackson recounted the story of a friend who owns a practice and works as a dispensing optician in the United Kingdom. He said his friend incentivised his dispensing opticians to take the course in refraction and as a result, was able to let most of his expensive optometrists go. The remaining optometrists simply checked the dispensing opticians’ refractions before the prescription was written.
He said as a TAFE course, the OTEN qualification will enable optical dispensers to move around in the healthcare industry, but urged the young graduates to never stop learning.
“A career lies ahead but the learning will never cease. Each working day or week will bring a new challenge – never hesitate to ask advice, or to discuss a difficult prescription,” said Mr. Jackson.
67 students celebrated their graduation from three courses: 63 students in optical dispensing; one in optical technology and three in ADOA Ophthalmic Practice Management. 48 of those students graduated from OTEN and 19 from Sydney Institute.
The top awards for the evening were presented to Michelle Allan who received the Course Prize at OTEN; Akiko Miwa who was awarded the Course Prize at Sydney Institute. Ilia Saraev received the Practical Optical Dispensing Prize as well as the State Medal.
Graduates received their certificates from Ms. Janet Elms-Smith, the Relieving Director (Randwick) at Sydney Institute and Ms. Francesca Saccaro, the Associate Director of OTEN. Prizes were awarded by Mr. Kocbek and Mr. Grant Hannaford, VICE President of ADOA who presented the prize for Ophthalmic Practice Management. Ms Foonghar Chong, Director of Education Western Sydney Institute presented the TAFE NSW State Medal. There were just two State Medals awarded to students among the 50,000 enrolled at OTEN in 2012.