Following a successful year, Optometry Australia is working to further improve optometrists’ experience.
In 2017, Optometry Australia continued its commitment to delivering a diverse range of services that assist our members to succeed professionally and personally. Our Good Vision for Life consumer initiative resulted in an estimated one million people making optometry appointments. To raise awareness of the role of optometry to general practitioners, we delivered an extensive, multifaceted campaign, working closely with organisations such as The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine. We also started collaborating with the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia to similarly raise awareness, among their members, of the vital role of optometry in primary health care. We will build on this initiative in 2018.
Our academic journal Clinical and Experimental Optometry celebrated its 100th volume in 2017 and next year Optometry Australia will celebrate 100 years of service to optometrists.
We know that our work in policy and advocacy is highly valued by members, and we were pleased to have a ‘win’ when we received advice from the Department of Health relating to an administrative change concerning item 10944. The descriptor for this item in the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) online book will now match the legislative wording in the Health Insurance (Optometric Services) Determination 2016, and hence no longer limit what optometrists can claim on behalf of their patients. Optometry Australia was informed some time ago that there would be no change pending the outcomes of the MBS Review, however our persistence resulted in this important change in September.
We know that our work in policy and advocacy is highly valued by members, and we were pleased to have a ‘win’
We have commenced the development of our 2018–2021 strategic plan, in conjunction with all our State organisations. In drafting this, we have listened intently to our members, and the plan will reflect their feedback while continuing to strengthen our position as the influential voice for optometry. It will align with the current plan and the themes of lead, engage and promote – with very clear measurable objectives – ensuring we meet and exceed membership expectations and support the optometry sector more broadly. We expect this plan to be finalised and launched by March 2018.
Did we make a difference to the professional lives of our members during 2017?
Well, for quite a few members who found themselves in need of something beyond a quick answer to a simple question, I hope so. May I give you a quick example of why I truly believe that membership is essential for every practising optometrist?
Member A found themselves on the end of a Medicare audit. That audit unfortunately didn’t go as planned and they progressed to an interview with the Director of Professional Services Review. That went better, but they ultimately were referred to a Peer Review Panel – and that isn’t pretty at all.
Here’s why you should always be a member.
The Association will spend, in total, about 14 days of high-level staff time helping the member prepare for the various parts of this process, including accompanying them to hearings. At a very conservative estimate, a non-member who needed to engage a lawyer to provide similar levels of assistance would spend well over AU$42,000, and may not get anything like the same level of expertise. That’s 20 years’ worth of membership fees expended on a single issue. That’s why you belong!
As you contemplate another year gone, Merry Christmas to all and my best wishes for a great 2018!
On behalf of the Optometry Victoria Board, thanks to all of our members, our partners, and our commercial supporters who have contributed to a great year for the Victorian Division. With the highest level of representation on the mainland, and unprecedented outreach to our members over the last financial year, we hope our program has had something for everyone.
Nevertheless, we’re always looking to improve, and we’ll do that over the coming year, with more rural and regional programming; further development in our Early Career Optometrists offering; more comprehensive local advocacy, and enhanced member resources for Victorian optometrists and optometry students.
On top of this, we’re looking at two extremely pivotal projects, which we’re hoping will make members’ experience with the Association better. One we believe can significantly improve the conference market offering in Australia and beyond for the betterment of the whole sector. The other will look to dramatically streamline governance and operational processes to the benefit of all members, no matter which state they’re in. We’re working hard on these projects, and we’re hoping to have much more to say about them in the coming months.
In the meantime, to all our members, we wish you a safe festive season, and a prosperous 2018.
2018 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for O SA. I have just completed strategic planning with Optometry Australia and my State counterparts, securing some exciting initiatives that I am confident will be important for our members. SA membership continues to thrive because of the recruitment of new graduates, the renewed interest of current members and the return of lapsed members who were momentarily enticed away by “cheaper insurance”. Why are they returning? Three key reasons: feeling professionally isolated; wanting to influence their professional future and PI insurance (and the support process), which is far superior to anything else on the market, providing that extra piece of mind.
New in 2018 will be a Member Engagement Committee tasked with coordinating activities hosted by our ECO SA Committee (for Early Career Optometrists who graduated in the last 10 years), our Mums ‘n’ Bubs Hub (for our members juggling a young family with their profession) and our CPD Committee, in addition to creating new networking and social opportunities for our broader membership. O SA is an active contributor to the development of a fantastic new OA website which will further facilitate a thriving, cohesive and enthusiastic member community. Bring it on!
As the holiday season approaches, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their continued support throughout 2017. The past year has been a busy one and each of you have played a very important role in the success we have enjoyed.
Significantly in the past twelve months, O Qld/NT launched the very successful Smart Eye Start initiative, encouraging all Queensland and Northern Territory children to have a comprehensive eye test before starting school. Currently we have over 600 kindies and hundreds of schools signed up to this initiative.
O Qld/NT also made important inroads with Queensland Health, with the new Clinical Prioritisation Criteria being introduced throughout the State. O Qld/NT worked directly to get optometry in the mix with the Hospital and Health Services pilot programs introducing electronic referral pathways.
Once again we celebrated the profession and our graduating Queensland University of Technology students at our popular Visionaries event, this year held at Queensland Parliament House.
As we look to the New Year, plans for Australian Vision Convention (AVC) are well underway and we are getting great feedback for the change to Brisbane in 2018.
On behalf of O Qld/NT President Melinda Toomey and our Board of Directors, I wish happy holiday tidings to our Queensland and Northern Territory members and mivision readers across the country.
Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and New Year period.
2017 has been a successful year with strong participation from members and solid attendance at education events and conferences.
Our program for WAVE 2018 has just been released and I hope you’ll put it on your calendar. Already we have finalised our education program, which you can view at www.optometry.org.au/wa/professional-development-events/wave-2018. We have Victorian optometrists Rod Baker and Dr. Laura Downie speaking, along with the return of optometrist Mark Koszek (New South Wales) and neuro ophthalmologist Dr. Celia Chen (South Australia). It promises to be another informative and educational program for delegates.
In late October, at our Annual General Meeting, Darrell Baker stepped down as President of OWA, following eight years in the role. We thank Darrell for his dedication and significant contribution to the Association.
Replacing Darrell as President is Robert Howie, of OPSM Dianella. Rob is a strong advocate for optometry, professional education and Association membership. We welcome him and look forward to working with him as we drive the Association forward.
Our Early Career Optometrists board also has a new leader, with Kiran Sookroo as the new Chair following David Hsu stepping down after two years in the role. Kiran was previously deputy chair of ECO, and Roxanne Medhora has stepped into this role. Thanks to David, Kiran and Roxanne for their considerable contribution to the profession.
Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to thank Jude Martindale who manages the Association and all its events so well. Additionally, I would like to thank our board, our members, our sponsors and of course Mel Kell and team at mivision for their continued support.