Leaders from Optometry Australia’s national office and state divisions provide a wrap up for the year and a hint of what’s to come in 2019.
We often discuss the major initiatives we undertake to support all our members and the sector more broadly. However, it is often the one on one contact and support we provide to members that has a huge impact. I am fortunate to attend all our great state conferences and I enjoy chatting with members and hearing how OA has helped them in one area or another. With five optometrists now on staff at the National office, it would be a rare occurrence not to have an immediate answer to any query. Each brings their own set of skills, which ensures a breadth of knowledge that members can tap into, whenever there is a need.
It can be daunting to undergo an audit by Medicare or the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
Simon Hanna worked tirelessly to develop our private health insurance tool which has been invaluable in guiding members to cut through the varying rules of health funds. One member noted that after receiving our first guide, which covered the top four health funds, he and his team likened waiting for the second instalment to waiting for the next episode of their favourite TV show – keen to see what comes out and what it says.
It can be daunting to undergo an audit by Medicare or the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Luke Arundel has assisted many members to navigate the system and prepare submissions to respond to an MBS audit. Luke’s in-depth understanding of MBS items and correct billing practice means members have the best support, at a really difficult time. Luke notes it is always good to hear from a member: ‘email from AHPRA this morning, nothing further needed’.
Sophie Koh is often a sounding board for members who are encountering tricky ethical and clinical scenarios. Many members are isolated from their peers and/ or geographically isolated. A common question is reporting a patient unfit to drive. Sophie has helped many members tackle this sensitive issue.
Even our GM Marketing Communications, Kerry I’Anson, recently assisted a member who was having challenges in organising attendance at the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) conference. Kerry connected the member with her counterpart at the CAO and all was quickly sorted.
Some of these anecdotes may seem like minor issues, but for the individual members they can be a big deal. We might be treading the halls of parliament advocating around MBS which supports the whole sector. However, we also spend each and every day supporting members on their important issues.
As the year comes to an end, O Qld/NT looks back on what has been an extremely rewarding and prosperous year. Our Smart Eye Start Initiative, which aims to encourage routine eye exams prior to schooling, is constantly growing with further schools and optometrists signing on each day. Our two conventions – North Queensland Vision and Australian Vision Convention – were both a huge success.
Recently we held Visionaries, our annual awards evening at Moda, Hamilton. Each year we take this opportunity to formally thank, celebrate and acknowledge milestone graduates of optometry at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and award recipients for their dedication to the optometry profession. This year was also a fantastic milestone for optometry in Queensland with the celebration of 50 years of optometry at QUT.
We feel privileged to formally welcome the new QUT graduates into the profession in 2019. We look forward to the New Year and can’t wait to continue to support and deliver great services to our members.
On behalf of the O Qld/NT Board and staff we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
This year has been the most successful in our history in terms of direct member engagement. For example, another expansion in our member events program has resulted in around 580 members attending an O Vic event throughout the year (excluding SRC) – an unprecedented number for the association, 30 per cent up on the previous year, and around the same number of O Vic members who attended SRC in May 2018. This is good news, in particular when we acknowledge that just a few years ago, the number of our own members attending an O Vic event outside of SRC was negligible.
This year, we’ve also been able to do some work on four ‘legacy’ projects which we hope will continue to strengthen the organisation for years to come. They are: the completion of the capital works associated with our building in Carlton, which is now being much better used by the membership, the launch of O=MEGA19, the launch of our bid for the 2021 World Congress of Optometry, and of course our work on the amalgamation project with South Australia, which I’m delighted to say was overwhelmingly endorsed by our members. The new entity (called Optometry Victoria South Australia) will commence operations from 1 July, 2019. We know that substantive work on this project must continue in order to live up to the mandate our members have given us.
On top of this, we continue to liaise strongly with local and state government departments, our two universities, and key sector stakeholders to ensure we maintain visibility. We also continue to support the important work of Optometry Australia and we try to take a collegial leadership role within the broader federation.
We think that it’s through a deep relationship with individual members that we have maintained around 90 per cent of registered, practising optometrists as members of the association in Victoria – the highest level of representation on the mainland.
As I write this report, I am ‘high’ on the elation of a ‘yes’ vote at our annual general meeting for amalgamation with Optometry Victoria. We have worked tirelessly to ensure that this critical decision on the next chapter of our treasured association was not a re-run of Brexit. Every opportunity was given to members to explore the proposal and provide their feedback. At every opportunity, members were encouraged and enabled to vote. Over half exercised that vote and a staggering 97 per cent of those who voted, said ‘yes’ to the formation of Optometry Victoria South Australia in 2019. We can take the next step boldly, with our heads held high, knowing that our members (on both sides of the border) are right behind us and cheering us on.
Now comes the fun part! Together we have a unique opportunity to take a step back and assess how we do things both sides of the border, with an expanded pool of expertise and critical eyes. We can strategically review what works well, what could work better and to cherry pick and evolve the best ideas and the most beneficial member initiatives. As His Royal Highness Prince Harry recently urged at the opening of the Invictus Games in Sydney, let the games begin – let’s show them how it’s done!
Every year brings with it the good, the bad and some great prospects ahead. So, how did 2018 shape up?
In terms of good, the rescue of the 12 boys and their coach from a Thai cave would have to be at the top of the list. As a former caver, the one thing I’d never contemplate was cave diving – even mates of mine who were navy clearance divers (who remove mines and things from the bottoms of ships) baulk at the idea. So my awe at the technical skill and sheer bravery of the team who got the boys out knows no bounds.
Bad? Personally, I despair at the very strong trend in Australia away from the ability to raise any issue with which the ‘looney left’ does not agree. There was a time when people could sit across a table or around a room and civilly discuss any range of matters from the trivial to the earth-shattering. Opinions were heard and positions debated, but above all, there was respect for each other’s views. Try walking into a café in Glebe wearing a pro-Donald Trump T-shirt – you’ll be lucky if they serve you.
And the optometry world in 2019? A big review of the Medicare Benefits Schedule will get into full swing, with hopefully some very positive outcomes for our patients and ourselves. The latter part of 2018 brought a major shift in attitude towards optometry within NSW Health, which looks to hold much promise for greater involvement in public health care. Within the Association, there are very positive changes afoot, with a strong emphasis on tailoring services to individual member needs and making CPD, for example, more accessible through the very successful national webinar series.
And so as 2018 wraps up, take time to reflect on the great things that have come your way in 2018 – and revel in the prospects of 2019!
There’s no standing still in Western Australia.
O WA is pleased to announce several exciting initiatives recently put in place to serve members better. At the recent O WA annual general meeting, we took a leap forward that will enhance the expertise, governance and strategic planning we have to support optometrists in our state.
Following the standing down of our long term board member and past President of nine years, Darrell Baker, along with early career optometry (ECO) member David Hsu, O WA has appointed passionate optometrists John Palassis and Andrew Nguyen (ECO). The additional voted appointment of Christine Baker who, while not an optometrist is responsible for managing optometry practices, will bring new eyes and skills in management, leadership, the not for profit sector and governance.
Along with the previously mentioned changes, Robert Howie has been returned for another year as President, Geoff Smith remains as Treasurer and existing board members Gary Crerie, Roxanne Medhora (ECO), Hui -Lin Chan (Education) and Simon Hogan continue to provide valuable guidance and input. We welcome our new board members and sincerely thank those who continue to contribute, as well as those who have contributed so much to enable us to be where we are today. Members are the obvious beneficiaries of your commitment.
Don’t forget to mark your calendar for WAVE 2019, now to be held from 30–31 March at the iconic and historic Esplanade Hotel Fremantle. WAVE is known as a quality event – all we were missing was a tourist hot spot, a date for when the weather would be warm and a tweak to the program that takes into consideration all delegate and trade feedback. I am confident in saying we have and will tick all boxes when it comes to WAVE 2019.
We hope to see you there. Details can be found under the OWA section of the OA website. Remember, 30–31 March!
The TLC conference is now behind us and I thank all the delegates and exhibitors. Their support enables us to run our conference and provide quality education to optometrists. The change of venue to Wrest Point Hotel this year paid off, with positive feedback and improved interaction between delegates and exhibitors.
Consequently, we have decided to return to Wrest Point next year, so please, save these dates: 23–25 August, 2019. While we would normally hold the conference dinner at MONA in the Eros and Thanatos function room, building renovations at the time of the conference mean this area will be closed. We are planning an equally memorable conference dinner with more details to follow.
These last few months have seen an increased number of educational events, with successful training evenings in the regional areas of Launceston and Devonport. In 2019, we plan to focus our attention on arranging more training events in regional areas and working with ophthalmology clinics to provide specialised training.
The Tasmania Optometry Foundation was established from the accumulated funds from the former Optometrists Registration Board of Tasmania when that Board was replaced by the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme in July 2010. The Foundation provides grants to local optometrists and this year, received a number of worthy scholarship applications. Sib Payne was successful in receiving a grant that will enable further training as well as the completion of the CCLSA Fellowship, and associated conference and workshops.