Evolving scope of practice, an enhanced program of quality education, structural optimisation, and sustainability are the goals articulated within Optometry Australia’s 2021–2024 shared strategic plan, which will be progressed from 1 July.
National President Darrell Baker said the projects and goals itemised in the plan had been identified to evolve and sustain the sector and the organisation, and to ensure optometry gets to its preferred future by 2040.
While some optometrists may feel anxious about their professional future they needn’t be because, “The future of our profession is one that we can and will shape together… professions, industries and societies survive and thrive with evolution,” he said.
The Association will continue to focus on four pillars of leading, uniting, engaging and promoting optometry, optometrists and community eye health. The goals articulated within the 2021-2024 strategic plan sit within these pillars.
SCOPE OF PRACTICE
Optometry Australia aims to evolve the profession’s scope of practice, and ensure optometrists work to their full scope, in an effort to meet community need. This will help ease the pressure on public health management of eye disease and enable optometrists to remain competitive “within a world where digital technology does not recognise borders”. Plans to achieve this goal include national and state advocacy as well as campaigns to build awareness, within both the public health sector and the community, of optometry’s role.
The vision is to see more collaborative management of eye disease with ophthalmology, increased use of optometrists within the public health system, and optometrists gaining rights to provide oral medications and play a greater role in intravitreal therapeutics. Ultimately, these achievements will improve delivery of culturally safe eye health services to all members of the community.
CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION
The Association will look to enhance its educational offering by creating increasingly flexible learning environments for all members, regardless of geographic location or circumstance. Initiatives will include webcasts, podcasts, on-demand courses, virtual and hybrid conferences and publications. Additionally the Association will assist in developing optometry skills internationally by providing access to its education content to optometrists overseas. Doing so will also showcase and enhance the standing of Australian optometry.
At an organisational level, Optometry Australia will explore ways to reduce duplication and better share services, resources and infrastructure across State and National organisations. In doing so, the Association hopes to work as one, efficiently and cost effectively, to meet the needs of its members within rapidly changing demographic, technology, societal and economic conditions.
To better meet the needs of members, it plans to reshape its member engagement model to tailor communications and services to optometrists at different stages of their careers and professional journey.
The Association will focus on gaining a thorough understanding of conditions moulding the profession’s future and with this in mind, innovate by adopting new services, technologies, skills and ways of doing business. Within the plan is the intended use of continual data, evidence and conditions monitoring to improve organisational practices. Additionally, the Association highlighted the need to source new revenue streams and identify funds that can be reinvested for the benefit of members.
UNITING AND WORKING TOGETHER
Darrell Baker said the strategic plan will support and sustain the sector’s evolution by “continuing to strengthen optometry’s reputation as a core health profession and building community awareness of the necessity of visiting an optometrist regularly, throughout life”.
Mr Baker assured members that the Association is “uniting and working together, supporting and learning from each other” to better meet the needs of the profession. “We have a deep sense of obligation to ensure that we can deliver you a consistent level of services irrelevant of state and national borders,” he said.