Optometry Victoria/South Australia is focussed on supporting its optometry members as they face unprecedented challenges.
This year has started with some members from across Victoria and South Australia feeling the direct impact of terrible bushfires, which burned many parts of both states. In East Gippsland, and on Kangaroo Island, some communities have been devastated. Optometrists, their staff, families and businesses are not immune. As the emergency phase of the response transitions into recovery phase, the commercial and psychological impacts of the disaster become more apparent. We stand ready to help all of our members recover, and we encourage all mivision readers to support affected communities where possible.
it’s pleasing that many practising optometrists who, for whatever reason, had not taken up membership or let it lapse, are returning to the association
If that wasn’t enough, we are now beginning to appreciate the potential impacts on lives and livelihoods of the Coronavirus. If, as seems inevitable at the time of writing, restrictions are placed on health practitioners for some ‘nonessential’ work, there is considerable risk for members’ capacity to function. As the peak body for optometry, the profession looks to us for advice, clarity, and pragmatic support. The issue is being actively discussed at the highest levels, and we are ensuring the profession is rapidly informed of any new protocols or requirements.
In happier news, our day-to-day work continues apace. We are now well into our first year as an amalgamated entity, and the feedback we’re receiving from members is that they are enjoying our expanded services and feeling part of a collective voice for the good of the profession. It’s really a thrill that members have continued to support us post amalgamation, and it’s pleasing that many practising optometrists who, for whatever reason, had not taken up membership or let it lapse, are returning to the association.
While it seems highly likely that face-to-face CPD will be disrupted in the medium term as a consequence of COVID-19, we are in advanced planning for our events calendar for 2020–21, and we’re looking forward to sharing that, in full, with members prior to the end of the financial year. Our main conference for 2020–21 will be Blue Sky at the Adelaide Convention Centre from 20–21 November. As well as bringing the event back to the city from the hills, we’ve managed to secure the services of two wonderful international keynotes who are both well known to Australian audiences. Blair Lonsberry and Nate Lighthizer are regular visitors, and their joint presentations at Blue Sky will hark back to the old ‘Ron and Randall’ of Blue Sky’s past – a great mix of energy, fun, and clinical acumen. Nate and Blair will be supported by lectures from a fantastic group of local optometrists – so save the date.
Many Victorian-based members have been asking how they should get their face-to-face points in the ‘off ’ year for O=MEGA. Firstly, I’d say come to Blue Sky in November! However, as we did in South Australia for the 2019–20 ‘off ’ year for Blue Sky, we are running a series of one day conferences in 2020–21. These were really successful in Adelaide and we’re confident will be great value and educationally excellent for members in Victoria too. Assuming we have the all clear to gather face-to-face, the plan is to hold one full day conference in July (focussing on binocular vision, paediatrics and myopia), another in October (focussing on posterior eye, glaucoma, optical coherence tomography and neuro). A third one day conference in March 2021 will concentrate on anterior eye issues. This conference will attract a high number of therapeutic points, which will be at a premium under the OBA’s new requirements that come into effect from 1 December 2020. We hope there will be something for everyone there – look out for your events calendar which will be sent to members with Scope Magazine in June, or call the office on (AUS) 03 9652 9100.
Added to all of that, we will roll out our usual rural and regional program – in 2021 we’ll visit Mount Gambier, Geelong, Gippsland, Bendigo, Barossa Valley and Wodonga with a focus on retinal conditions. We’ll also have a comprehensive suite of early career programming and a bunch of other networking and CPD opportunities. We’ll also continue to deliver in-house CPR training; local advocacy work; resource provision; student engagement; publications and professional services offerings. Oh, and we’ll continue our planning for the small (!!) matter of hosting the World Congress of Optometry alongside O=MEGA21 in September 2021.
Peter Haydon is the Chief Executive Officer of Optometry Victoria/South Australia.