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Homemioptometry2019: A Year of Achievements for Optometry

2019: A Year of Achievements for Optometry

With over 80% of the optometry workforce as its members, Optometry Australia is working to make a significant impact on the profession’s current practice and its future.

O A

Lyn Brodie 

The year 2040 is a year closer than when we launched the findings of our initiative ‘Optometry 2040: Taking Control of Your Future’, in December 2018. As we celebrated 100 years of the Association, we envisaged our preferred future and the path to its realisation.

We are pleased to report we are treading that path, with a number of initiatives that will lead our members towards a secure and dynamic professional future.

We have begun work to develop a robust national optometry data set, a key recommendation of the findings. We aim to develop a rich data resource that provides greater insight into the critical contributions of optometry to population eye health, and in so doing, provides a valuable resource to facilitate advocacy for the value of optometry, facilitate evaluation of policy and system shifts, and support continual quality improvement at a system level. To date, we have welcomed contributions of key optometry stakeholders and are gearing up for a pilot project to test concepts in the near future.

Optometry Australia’s new Institute of Excellence is providing a professional development platform to facilitate face to face and online learning. In collaboration with quality providers, our Institute offers CPD on diverse topics, through a range of learning modalities, ensuring members are equipped to grasp opportunities of future practice.

Evolving scope of practice is a key plank to ensure we reach our preferred future, and a new working group has been established to lead us on this journey. The MBS Review Taskforce has supported evolving optometry’s scope by recommending that optometrists be considered as an alternative workforce to provide intravitreal injections for the treatment of certain eye conditions. This is driven by the need to ensure access for the community and acknowledges that optometrists are highly trained, skilled eye professionals.

We are also working with our younger members and students to develop their skills so that we have strong leaders to guide our profession forward now and beyond 2040. We have established a National Student Leadership Program and are facilitating annual think tanks and leadership skill development sessions for our early career leaders.

Like all health professions, optometry is forever evolving but today’s rapid change means we need to be responsive, agile and courageous in all that we do as a sector and as optometrists’ peak professional body. After all, more than 80% of optometrists have placed their trust in us to ensure they achieve their preferred future.

Evolving scope of practice is a key plank to ensure we reach our preferred future, and a new working group has been established to lead us on this journey

O NSW/ACT

Andrew McKinnon 

O NSW/ACT is very pleased to announce that membership of its state division increased by 4% this year. Following last year’s increase of 3.5%, we can see a definite upward trend in membership and we now represent over 1,600 optometrists in NSW/ACT.

Of our recent new members, many have highlighted the support on offer in a range of areas from employment contract advice to support such as when faced with a difficult customer or a professional audit by Medicare, AHPRA, HCCC, health funds etc.

During the past year, we have seen some great initiatives from O NSW/ACT that have included Super Sunday, our major NSW CPD event, which incorporated our first ever practice staff program, for the staff of OA members. We are super excited about the 2020 event – keep an eye on our events page for program and registration details.

A key initiative during 2019 was the establishment of our inaugural ECONA (Early Career Optometrists NSW/ ACT) committee and subcommittees. An essential role of the ECONA committee is to act as a conduit between O NSW/ ACT and our 500+ early-career members. We continue to be impressed by their fresh approach and commitment.

During 2019 we also launched a podcast series – Optometry Talks. If you haven’t already listened to them, what are you waiting for? Tune in for expert advice on a range of non-clinical topics from audit support to setting up as a locum.

O Q/NT

Cathryn Baker 

The past year has been a busy one and we are delighted that our membership has again increased in number.

The Australian Vision Convention (AVC) returned to the Gold Coast with larger delegate numbers and a sold out trade hall, and North Queensland Vision was held in Townsville for the first time ever, which was well received, particularly from delegates in the region. Plans for yet another AVC are well underway for April 2020.

The O Q/NT Smart Eye Start initiative continues to grow with many more hundreds of kindergartens and primary schools encouraging children to have comprehensive eye examinations in 2019 prior to commencing their prep year.

The O Q/NT Visionaries Awards evening welcomed the 2019 graduating QUT students into the profession. We also celebrated our award winners for their outstanding service. The Hon. Bill Hayden AC QLD Optometrist of the Year was awarded to David Bradley; The Young Optometrist of the Year to Emily Henry; The Hamlyn R. Brier Clinical Optometry Award to David Stephensen; and the Peter J Montgomery Award for Social Justice to Dr Shelley Hopkins. Our congratulations and thanks to you all for your outstanding contributions.

On behalf of O Q/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 peaceful and safe Christmas/ New Year period.

O V/SA

Pete Haydon 

2019 was a significant year for Optometry Victoria South Australia (O V/SA). We successfully brought together two State Associations (South Australia and Victoria), grew our combined membership numbers, hosted the inaugural O=MEGA19 conference and tradeshow, and worked with the Optical Distributors and Manufacturers Association (ODMA) to win the bid to host the fourth World Congress of Optometry (WCO4) alongside O=MEGA21, from 2–4 September, 2021.

Winning WCO4 was an absolute thrill. It was a highly competitive tender in which we were up against several continents, all of whom had their merits.

I believe our success came down to the strength of O=MEGA19, a global interest in Australia’s evolving scope of optometry, and the appeal of Melbourne as the host city.

Now that we have won the bid and locked in the dates and venue, our focus has shifted to planning an expansive clinical program, which will include a line-up of our best local speakers as well as experts from around the world. The sessions are expected to be internationally accredited as professional education. Of course we will also be working closely with ODMA on developing the accompanying tradeshow, which is guaranteed to attract local as well as international manufacturers.

Thanks to the O V/SA Board, our committee members and all of our staff, who have worked so hard to achieve so much during 2019. I would also like to thank our members who have supported our efforts and continue to demonstrate their loyalty.

I wish you all a relaxing and enjoyable break over Christmas and New Year.

optometry is forever evolving but today’s rapid change means we need to be responsive, agile and courageous

O WA

Evan McRae 

2019 has been a year of achievements for O WA. WAVE 2019 returned to the Fremantle Esplanade Hotel in March with an enhanced dispensing program, bigger trade displays, and early career optometry sessions. Other CPD events included a travelling regional CPD program, finance insights presented to ECO members by Optometry Finance Australia and multiple face to face events. CPD is a significant focus for Optometry Australia and the State Associations, and during November, I had the pleasure of chairing and facilitating a national discussion on CPD initiatives for late 2020.

O WA’s work to support underprivileged communities continued. During April we worked with Western Australian Aboriginal figure heads to enhance spectacle supply. During July, I witnessed the work to recycle spectacles at Acacia Prison. To our members who donate spectacles, thank you, please don’t stop. In November, we completed the annual Homeless Connect volunteer program.

In our role as advocates, O WA, with O A, held multiple meetings with the University of Western Australia, and corresponded with the Vice Chancellor and Federal Government to inform of our concerns regarding oversupply. We await a decision.

Additionally, we circulated improved information regarding ophthalmologist liaison and hospital referral pathways.

This year we submitted the new Constitution as a requirement of WA State legislation. This hugely collaborative project was successful in being approved. During October we welcomed a new board and farewelled Treasurer Geoff Smith, who retired after more than a decade. Thank you to Geoff, and all our former and new board members for their efforts.

Thank you also to Jude Martindale and all members of O WA for your support during 2019.

O Tas

Jonathan Jones 

2019 has been a successful year for O Tas. Our regional Tasmanian Lifestyle Congress continues to grow in numbers with attendance by interstate delegates growing significantly over the past two years with Western Australians and Queenslanders, in particular, increasingly choosing to experience Tasmania’s cold August weather! TLC has now reached the maximum capacity for the current conference venue and a change of venue would be difficult due to its current popularity with delegates and exhibitors. Feedback from this year’s event was positive with attendees enjoying our small speciality event that focuses on niche areas including the highly respected half day low vision program.

Across Australia, there will always be mix of large conferences together with smaller regional conferences. We congratulate O V/SA on winning the bid to host the fourth World Congress of Optometry in 2021 to be held alongside O=MEGA21. This gives optometrists further choices to suit their individual learning needs.

Tasmanian optometrists are fortunate in having options to attend O V/SA’s large conference via a AU$150 one-hour flight and enjoy our smaller destination conferences with regional attractions – long live choice!