Plans are progressing for a ‘hybrid-model’ Blue Sky conference while a direction for O=MEGA21 and the World Congress of Optometry is yet to be finalised.
Looking after our members during the various COVID-19 lockdowns has presented some difficult challenges for us at Optometry Victoria/South Australia (OV/SA) over the last few months. Not the least of these has been that we’re a cross jurisdictional division, and the levels of lockdowns for Melbourne, regional Victoria and South Australia have, at times, been quite different. Providing clear information, as the sand shifts under our feet, for a profession that is experiencing (in some cases) extremely serious downturns in business and increased compliance requirements, has taken up much of our time. We hope that our members have had the information they’ve needed. We’re grateful, also, to Optometry Australia for its leadership and steadfastness as we’ve all tried to adjust to the new environment.
We’re really eager to be among the first to ‘open up’, and what better way to do that than at BlueSky 2020 in Adelaide this coming November
Some of the day-to-day services we provide our members have also needed to be quickly reimagined over the past months. In particular our face-to-face CPD program, which we love delivering and are so proud of, has had to shift completely online recently. While those online seminars have been popular and have worked reasonably well technically, there’s no substitute, in my view, for the face-to-face product, which allows for the types of social interactions (and commercial opportunities) that a lot of members who ‘sit in a dark room all day’ tell us they crave.
We’re really eager to be among the first to ‘open up’, and what better way to do that than at BlueSky 2020 in Adelaide this coming November. We’ve decided that we’ll have a go at running a ‘hybrid-model’ conference, where any members from SA (or any from somewhere with borders open to SA) can attend in person, and get that lovely, unique BlueSky conference feeling. For everyone else who can’t attend, the full conference will be available to engage with online.
We’re finalising the speaker line-up, but it’ll be a who’s who of SA-based optometrists and ophthalmologists, alongside a few special guests including Blair Lonsberry and Nate Lighthizer who will beam in through the wonders of technology to undertake an interactive dual session from the USA. Both Blair and Nate were booked to be the keynotes this year at BlueSky but unfortunately we’re not allowed to let them into the country at the moment.
More details about the conference will be uploaded onto our website in the coming couple of weeks, but I can confirm that it’ll take place on 20 and 21 November at the Adelaide Convention Centre and it will be Olympics-themed (given there’s no actual Olympics this year). Naturally, if there’s a change to government COVID-19 restrictions, anyone who has booked will be taken care of and we’re sure it’ll remain great fun and a great educative experience – even if there are a few social distancing restrictions in place. We really hope all members who want to spend some time with their colleagues, see an excellent group of lectures, and do some buying for their practices, can come together and support BlueSky 2020 – a very different year but still the same great vibe.
Briefly on the rest of our CPD program for 2020–21, we’re still hoping that we can deliver most of it. We’ve got a series of one day ‘mini-conferences’ planned for Melbourne, starting in late summer 2021, and we’re still looking to run as much of our ECO program, and our rural and regional program, as possible face-to-face.
Finally, I am being asked a lot of questions about the way forward for O=MEGA21 and the World Congress of Optometry. Our business partners, the Optical Distributors and Manufacturers Association (ODMA) and OV/SA, have been taking a close look at how best to deliver these critical events for the profession and industry. Additionally, we’ve been in constant contact with our friends at the World Council of Optometry, discussing and debating the best shape for O=MEGA21. We’re working hard with all of our stakeholders to make sure that when we announce our plans we’re able to provide as much certainty to everyone as we can, given the current climate.
We hope everyone is safe, well, and coping as best as possible at the moment. We can’t wait for the metaphorical clouds to part and to see members again.
Pete Haydon is the Chief Executive Officer of Optometry Victoria / South Australia.