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HomemioptometryOptometry Association Reports Apr 09

Optometry Association Reports Apr 09

Happenings and events from the optometry divisions in Australia and NZ


With Southern Regional Congress (SRC) rapidly approaching, we have been delighted with the response to the program. SRC is the largest optometry conference in Australia. We expect more than 1000 delegates again this year.

The SRC education program is wholly clinical in its focus. We tell all our speakers that their job is to make sure that optometrists leave the conference with clear information that they can put into practice when they get back to work.

Delegates are in for a treat with our keynote speakers, Ron Melton and Randall Thomas, presenting together throughout the program. They present tons of information in an easily understood (and fun) way. Backed up by Peter Swann and a bunch of Australian speakers, we think the program will really meet the needs of optometrists in daily practice.

All day on Sunday at SRC we run two lecture theatres. This gives delegates the chance to pick and choose their sessions. The extra choice of topics allows you to pick the topics which interest you most.

Whilst the majority of delegates come from within Australia, we have had a growing international contingent over the last few years. mivision have assisted us this year by running complementary ads for SRC in their Singapore edition.

As well as a rigorous education program at SRC, our Trade Expo brings together key industry suppliers from around the country. We know that many of our delegates take the opportunity to take care of business. This is easy with so many suppliers all in the one place.

In these difficult times we really appreciate the support of our Sponsors and Exhibitors without whom SRC would not be possible.

SRC is held at the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre in the heart of Melbourne. This year, it runs from May 16-18 – it is always the third weekend in May. For more information about SRC, or to book online, go to: www.vicoptom.asn.au or call (AUS) 03 9654 2144.

We hope to see you there whether it’s your first SRC or a regular attendee. Terri Smith


There is no doubt that competition is good – for individuals and economies. But it certainly does make people nervous, especially when it comes from financially powerful opponents, and emerges at breakneck speed.

Independent optometry is currently in the throes of a competitive maelstrom and, judging by recent expressions of interest, the ride may be about to grow even more wild.

Hot on the heels of U.K. giant Specsavers’ entry to the Australia market comes news that retail behemoth Woolworths are actively eyeing off the NSW and ACT markets.

So far, Woolies have restricted their optical activities to South Australia in the main. But that looks like changing. And if it does, will this be the start of the end for truly independent optometry in Australia?

I just finished reading an article about U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart – a chain so vast in its scope that 1-in-5 retail sales in the U.S. pass through its registers. It is powerful enough to bend even corporations like Coca-Cola to its will.

Yet, even in a market with such tyrannosaur-like competition, independent optometry continues to be alive and well in the U.S. It’s all because of what marketers call your ‘point of difference’ or ‘unique selling proposition’.

One of the inherent characteristics of monoliths like Wal-Mart (or even Woolies or Luxottica) is that they have a model of business to which they adhere quite rigidly. Flexibility is never a hallmark of big corporations.

But that is the very essence of what small organisations can offer to set themselves apart from the giants.

Small businesses can do things that their big competitors find difficult – offer exotic and unusual ranges, for example, or convenience of location and operating hours and, most critically, individual service and attention.

Think about servicing your car. If you’re like me, you are surrounded by both small mechanics and big chains like Ultra-Tune and K-Mart Auto. Why then do I drive 20 minutes in one direction and 30 minutes in the other to service two different cars? It’s because of the expertise offered by, and trust I have gained, in the two specialists who service the cars. And if they moved, I’d follow them; such is my regard for their service and knowledge.

Independent optometrists can do exactly the same thing – but you have to set that as your business goal and then set about creating the business culture to support your objective. You can do it – as long as you are committed to it. And you can grow and thrive as a result.

Think about this – in a study of owners of independent cafés in the U.S., the question was asked about whether or not they feared the opening of a Starbucks nearby. The premise was that this would kill their business. Almost without fail, the answer was, the best thing that ever happened to the small café was when a big chain opened in the neighbourhood. It drew people into the area, heightened their awareness of the joys of coffee, and then, when they found out that the Starbucks experience was less than stellar, they went searching for something better – and found the local coffee shop. Change the names and business types around and see if there is a message in that for you. Andrew McKinnon


The ‘E’ word is currently the most talked about subject in the birth state of our Prime Minister – ‘E’ for Election rather than ‘E’ for Economy.

The Division hit the ground running at the beginning of the year, anticipating a February state election. Although our plans were well advanced, it suits us much better that the election will now be held later in the year, perhaps as late as September.

With the assistance of renowned public relations consultancy, BBS PR, the Division has developed a comprehensive strategy that will hopefully deliver Queensland optometry patients with the same level of therapeutic service available in most Australian states and territories, including New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Missing from the ‘Victorian List’, which was publicly promised by then Health Minister Edmond on ANZAC Day 2003, are topical glaucoma eye drops and two, topical uveitis eye drops.

The centre piece to our campaign is a relentless series of visits to the state’s 89 MP’s, and other candidates, by many of the Division’s 900 members. Indeed many of those visits have already occurred. On both side of politics it is clear that there is bipartisan support for Queensland optometry patients to enjoy the same level of therapeutic service afforded to the rest of the country. Some 87 Labor candidates, an equal number of LNP (Liberal National Party) candidates, and a few independents will be sending that same message to the dissenting two, namely Premier Bligh and Health Minister Robertson. Perhaps this time the weight of numbers will prevail, …perhaps.

Patients, optometry students, optometrists and support agencies are starting to fax the first of thousands of letters to both the Premier and Health Minister asking for “a fair go for Queensland optometry patients”.

It is sad that the Division has to spend so much time on this long overdue issue when it could just as easily be working on other worthwhile initiatives with government including public hospital waiting lists reduction, remote and indigenous health and diabetes. In Queensland, though, that’s the way it is… Greg Johnson


Glaucoma Co-management Gets Underway In Tasmania
Tasmanian Optometrists, who are currently therapeutically endorsed, will soon be prescribing 13 anti-glaucoma Class 1 medications under co-management protocols similar to those approved in New South Wales. Changes to permit therapeutically endorsed optometrists in Tasmania to prescribe the medications and co-manage in conjunction with ophthalmologists became law when amending regulations were gazetted in November 2008.

The Optometrists Registration Board of Tasmania approved CPD courses which were conducted last month. Tasmanian President, Tim Powell, was delighted with the panel of lecturers who were engaged for the course. Tasmanian ophthalmologists Dr. Paul McCartney and Dr. Brendan Vote lectured in Hobart and Launceston respectively. Dr. Philip Anderton, Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of NSW’s Faculty of Optometry and Vision Science, Ian Douglas, President of the Victorian College of Optometry Council and a independent optometrist who has had experience in co-management of glaucoma patients at his practice in Hampton and Dr. Joan Portello, O.D., M.P.H., M.S., F.A.A.O, a lecturer from SUNY, State College of Optometry in New York. Dr. Portello lectured at the previous therapeutic qualifying courses held in Tasmania.

I was delighted with the response from members as the two courses will probably be the last opportunity to upgrade endorsements prior to the introduction of national registration in July 2010. Sixty-five members enrolled for the courses, and I believe there was only one therapeutically qualified Tasmanian member who was unable to attend due to overseas travel at the time.

Tasmanian Lifestyle Congress V
Arrangements for the annual Tasmanian Lifestyle Congress (TLC) are well advanced.

Tasmanian President, Tim Powell, announced that TLC V will be held at The Old Woolstore Hobart from 14-16 August 2009. Glaucoma co-management and therapeutics will feature prominently in 2009 in view of the recent legislative changes in Tasmania and some other states. National Glaucoma Week also commences on the opening day of Congress.

Joseph Sowka, OD, FAAO, Professor of Optometry Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry in Florida will be the key note speaker. Queensland optometrist Gary Page will deliver the Keith Mackriell annual lecture.

This years Congress will also incorporate the European Eyewear Low Vision Seminar at which Prof. Jan Lovie-Kitchin will be the keynote speaker. Further information is available by contacting me on (AUS) 03 62243360 or email optometristsasn.tas@bigpond.com. Geoff Squibb


North West optometry Program
This month see’s the start of the Rural and Remote Optometry program for the North West of WA for 2009.

Building on from the success of last year’s inaugural program, the volunteer optometrists are back for their second year of working in these remote communities.

In 2008, an additional 34 weeks of ye service to these remote and regional areas of the Kimberley and Pilbara was delivered. All available Aboriginal Medical Service locations were attended; providing sight and acute care for eye disorders and effectively triaging patients for tertiary care by specialists.

With almost 20 volunteers now available, the program continues to grow under the supervision and involvement of local optometrist Margie O’Neill based in Kununurra.

This year will be another important year in, not only continuing to deliver this much needed service, but also providing a lasting platform for the program to build on well into the future.

Welcome to New Members
Each year the WA Division holds a welcome to New Members to WA evening. In the past 12 months, 20 new members have now relocated to WA and are well underway in their careers in the West. The evening was supported by Lynn Dowdell and Helen Gleave from Ciba Vision. Also in attendance were WA Registration Board members, Garry Fitzpatrick and Lisa Jansen, OAA WA President Geoff Smith and the WA Executive Councillors. Tony Martella



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