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HomemioptometryOptometry Association Reports Jul 09

Optometry Association Reports Jul 09


Deputy Premier and Health Minister the Hon. Lara Giddings inspects the OAA Eye Health and Vision Screening Centre with NSW CEO Andrew McKinnon (sitting), CEO Geoff Squibb and President Tim Powell at Agfest.


Therapeutic Thinking

We’re always thinking therapeutics here in Victoria, but as optometry prescribing becomes more and more a part of the delivery of eye care services in Australia, and the percentage of registered optometrists with therapeutic endorsement climbs toward 40 per cent in this State, we’re encouraging our members to think about it too.

Since 2005, optometry graduates from the University of Melbourne have been therapeutically endorsed, and at the University of NSW and Queensland University of Technology, therapeutics training is now in full swing at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

With PBS prescribing now a reality, and co-management between optometrists and ophthalmologists now an important way of supporting the best patient care, therapeutics is coming into its own. Indeed the Optometrists Registration Board of Victoria late last year issued its own words of encouragement to optometrists who do not have therapeutic endorsement to think about seizing the moment, arguing that in the long run, the ability to prescribe ocular medications will become a key aspect of clinical optometry.

Optometrists Association Victoria will run a special CPD seminar on 8 July, especially for those members who do not have therapeutic qualifications, but are considering doing so.

Thinking Therapeutics aims to help members understand how therapeutically endorsed optometrists use their qualification in day-to-day practice and get an overview of the changing patterns and increasing role of therapeutics in optometry and other professions.

Speakers and panelists at the session will include several Victorian optometrists who make good use of their therapeutics qualifications on a day-to-day basis, and are keen to promote the message that therapeutics is a bonus for job satisfaction, patients, and business. They’ll emphasise the value a therapeutics qualification can offer professionally. We will also hear from a recent graduate of the therapeutics postgraduate course.

Attendees will also hear about the options currently available for obtaining the qualification, and get an idea of what is entailed in undertaking a post-graduate course in ocular therapeutics. There might be many reasons for people to be uncertain as to whether to jump in and do the course, including time, cost and confidence, but this seminar aims to show there are some good reasons why now is a great time to think about doing it. Those attending earn 4 CPD points. Terri Smith



Who was it that said, “The only thing that doesn’t change is change itself” (or thereabouts)?

The 1 July will see the start of the new Fair Work Australia regime and, regardless of your views on it, we’ll have to get ready for it.

The Association will be issuing more detailed advice in the near future, but here’s the gist of it:

  • Small businesses (with fewer than 15 employees) will no longer be exempt from the Unfair Dismissal laws.
  • However, staff in small businesses will have a 12 month ‘probationary’ period where their employment can be terminated without exposure to unfair dismissal claims (unless the dismissal is for a prohibited reason – pregnancy, for example).
  • After 12 months, small businesses must comply with a new Small Business Fair Dismissal Code (SBFD) which sets out how dismissals are to be handled.
  • Casual staff are subject to the same conditions regarding dismissal – this is a significant change from the WorkChoices rules.

Although it probably won’t be an issue for small businesses, there is a greatly expanded right of entry for both inspectors and trade union officials if they reasonably believe that a breach of an Award might be occurring.

With the changes, is trading as a corporation still as attractive as it was under WorkChoices? Certainly employers still get far superior probationary arrangements vis-à-vis a sole trader. And at first glance, the SBFD code seems to be pretty balanced – although like any new piece of legislation we won’t know how balanced until it is tested in a tribunal.

So the answer at this stage is that we should probably allow the world to keep turning as it is and see how this new beast looks when it puts its head up on 1 July. Andrew McKinnon



This month sees the National University Rural Health Conference (NURHC) held in Cairns and ordinarily that would be of little interest to the Queensland/NT Division. However on this occasion it will be of considerable interest because we have an optometrist on the program and significant participation by Cairns and district optometrists.

The idea for optometry’s participation came from former OAA Victorian President Leo Hartley. Leo is in fourth year medicine at James Cook University in Townsville and put his name forward as a presenter on the program.

Extending on that, in his mind, was for the OAA to staff an exhibition at the conference and to have a roster of optometrists ‘testing’ medical and nursing students on various pieces of equipment including retinal cameras. For the OAA, it was an offer too good to refuse.

The conference is the premier professional development event for National Rural Health Students’ Network (NRHSN) members. Held in a regional location each year, the conference connects both future and current rural health professionals, along with some of the country’s foremost rural and remote health bodies.

It enables students from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds to get together for shared learning and networking opportunities that benefit both the students and the future communities they will serve.

Over 400 delegates from across Australia are expected to attend the conference including students from medical, nursing, speech pathology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, exercise physiology, social work, pharmacy and Aboriginal health.

The OAA’s goal for the conference is to convert students to the concept of referring all ocular patients to optometrists given that those optometrists have the training and equipment to deal with most issues. Too often it is the case that ill-informed members of other professions refer patients to lengthening public hospital queues or to private ophthalmologists for matters that can be competently dealt with by a local optometrist.

The conference will be held at Brothers Leagues Club Cairns from Thursday, 23 July to Saturday, 25 July and the OAA’s participation will be managed by councillor Tom Bennett and CEO Greg Johnson. Greg Johnson



North West Optometry Program

With the program again underway for 2009, the final instalment for the training of the volunteers has been concluded. A combination of steep bush hills and sand dunes outside of Perth were the locations for the 4WD training.

While most of the volunteers had virtually no practical off road experience prior to the day, all were well versed by its conclusion. Traversing rugged and difficult terrain that many would never have contemplated previously, became second nature and helped provide a new found confidence in taking to the remote regions of WA that the program services. The spirit of adventure and facing challenges was alive and well among the group.

All volunteers have now undertaken training in 4WD, Cultural Awareness and First Aid as a part of their preparedness to undertake this work in these remote communities.

It should also be noted that through Optometry Giving Sight (OGS), funding has been provided to assist in the delivery of this training to the volunteer members. Our thanks go out to OGS and their National Committee for supporting this initiative and OAA in making this training possible.

New Office for WA Division

It’s with great pleasure that I can also announce that OAAWA has now purchased a permanent office for the association and its members. The past several years in the WA property market has been nothing short of extraordinary given the recent resources boom and strong WA economy. Property prices in that time have been high and looked unlikely to drop.

However, given the recent upheaval in the global financial meltdown, the market has since come back to a more realistic and affordable price making property investment more achievable. It was under these circumstances that made the timing to purchase all the more beneficial.

The new OAA Office is located in West Perth and has been purchased with a long term view of adding value to the membership and providing a sound base and home to conduct the long term operation of the Association and profession into the future. Tony Martella



Agfest is Tasmania’s premier agricultural event with over 720 exhibitors at Carrick in Tasmania’s north. Agfest has the second highest attendance of all agricultural field days in Australia and has grown from a small field day at a racetrack with 100 exhibitors in May 1983 to be become one of Tasmania’s most popular multi-million dollar exhibitions. This year a crowd of 70,448 patrons passed through the gates over the three days.

Agfest’s 700 plus exhibitors had something for everyone. Attractions included agricultural machinery, banking and finance, machinery, hardware and small equipment, leisure, automotive, clothing and home wares, food, horticulture and viticulture and livestock.

There were working displays of Tasmania’s pioneering agricultural industry including working blacksmiths, draught horse displays and free rides, a selection of vintage machinery from the wool and timber industries, and steam engines and tractors of yesteryear, and of course it included the free eye health and vision screening provided by the Optometrists Association of Australia.

Just like Agfest itself the optometry stand this year was bigger and better than before thanks to assistance provided by the Tasmanian members who volunteered, Andrew McKinnon and Nicole Smart from the NSW Division, Shirley Loh and Heidi Tuck from National Office, Beverly Lindsell and Catia Sicari from Glaucoma Australia, Bill Pickering from Hugo Halliday PR and Justin Shipway from Pfizer.

This year saw the most extensive screening undertaken at Agfest and one of the most comprehensive free public eye-screenings ever undertaken in Australia. Some of the tests and equipment used included: retinal photography, tonometry, corneal topography, colour blindness, ishihara testing and visual acuity screening.

At the completion of the screening, patrons were given an explanation of the results and advice from the optometrists who volunteered their services. This year, for the first time, data of the screening results and information about the examinations was recorded.

Some of this information was quite alarming. There were 422 people who undertook the extensive screening about half the number who filed through for a digital retinal photo last year.

About 60 per cent of those screened were over 45 years of age and the gender split was females 54 per cent and males 46 per cent. 26 per cent of those who undertook the screening failed the visual acuity test or were detected with a potential eye disease. Even more alarming was that about 35 per cent of those taking part admitted they have not seen an optometrist to have their eyes tested. Unfortunately most of those people were aged 40 or over.

With results like this, it looks like the Association will have a presence at Agfest for a number of years yet. Geoff Squibb