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HomemioptometryOptometry Association Reports Aug 09

Optometry Association Reports Aug 09



Lights, Camera, Action!

Victorian optometrists are invited to participate in the first ever OAA Vic Short Film competition. The competition is an opportunity for members to have a bit of fun.

Members are invited to make and enter a short film. The film can be created by an individual member alone or with friends and colleagues. These collaborators do not have to be members of the Association. The big challenge is that the film can run for no more than two minutes.

To keep it interesting, budding filmmakers will be given a limited time period to make their film and will be given a small number of props and words that must appear in the film. This will contribute to the fun! For those who lack film making skills, they might want to join in as actors or script writers. This is a great opportunity for a bit of multidisciplinary teamwork.

We know that optometrists – mild mannered on the surface – have secret lives. We want to expose those secret lives, draw out their talents and give us all something to talk about. Get involved, get your colleagues and friends involved, get your practice staff involved – and maybe the local ophthalmologist!

Members are asked to nominate their interest in being involved in the competition by 1 September. On 4 September they will receive the vital information – the props and key words that must be included in their film. They will then have until 5 pm on 14 September to submit their film.

There are very few rules to the competition. The film does not need to be explicitly about optometry. Filmmakers are invited to have a bit of fun but remain tasteful. Apart from the props and the key words the film needs a title.

To provide an opportunity for all our members to get involved, the films will be made available through YouTube and all our members will be encouraged to view the films and judge the winner. A committee of the Board will chose two additional winners.

There will be a small prize pool on offer (a total of AUD$500). AUD$200 for the film judged most popular by members. Filmmakers can lobby and people can vote more than once. Indeed you can encourage your friends to vote! AUD$200 and AUD$100 will go to the two films chosen by the Board committee. Terri Smith



There has been much activity in the tertiary education sector lately connected with the education of optometrists.

It is no secret that Flinders University in Adelaide is well down the path of planning for an undergraduate optometry course and also that other universities have indicated an interest as well. How should the profession view this upsurge of interest?

Superficially, a course in somewhere like Adelaide has appeal – there is a shortage of optometrists in South Australia and Western Australia and an Adelaide-based course may well help with that shortage. But note the word ‘superficially’! Things are not always as they seem.

Being a selfish Sydney-sider, I can honestly think of nothing worse than another metropolitan-based course in optometry – no matter where it is. I’m really not picking on Flinders University or Adelaide here – they’ve just got their hand up at the moment so they make a convenient case to illustrate my point.

In my view, the reality is that a course at, say, Flinders University will graduate maybe 40 students a year? In two years, the optometrist shortage in Adelaide will be over – then what? The course can’t simply be turned off.

So graduates keep coming – where do they go? My very strong suspicion is that they will gravitate to the largest markets in the country – Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Not sure about the other two, but I know that the last thing the Sydney optometric market needs is another ten, 20 or 40 graduates coming in looking for work!

Maybe they’ll end up in regional areas – certainly some of the universities trumpet their achievements in this regard. But I just can’t buy this argument from metropolitan universities.

These are the realities – if you bring young people from regional areas into a metropolitan university, no matter where it is, they will: (a) be attracted by the bright lights of the big city (b) most likely meet someone they really like and so (c) decide to stay there! If they come from, say, Sydney to Adelaide to study they will either stay in Adelaide or, come back to Sydney. They won’t, as a general rule, go to the country.

This is the harsh reality of the situation – there is no point pretending otherwise. Optometry’s biggest workforce challenge is to ensure the continuity of high quality services in regional and rural areas. Metropolitan areas are not an issue.

In my view we (talking now about NSW regional areas particularly) have about a ten year window in order to address this issue. That is when a lot of our babyboomer optometrists will start to retire.

We won’t fix the problem with another metropolitan-based course. It won’t work.

The NSW Council has recognised this and has commissioned a joint study with Charles Sturt University, a regional university based in Orange NSW, to look at workforce needs over the coming 20-odd years. Engagement with regional universities like Charles Sturt offers some hope of a constructive resolution to the regional workforce problem – in my view, that’s where our energies need to be focused. Andrew McKinnon



This month sees the commencement of our annual Council election process and in the August edition of SEE, all 900 Queensland and Northern Territory members will be asked to consider nominating.

It is hoped that through this process we will see a record number of nominations for the seven vacant positions (the President automatically retains his/her position as ‘Immediate Past President’ on the eight member Council). The positions to be contested are President; Vice- President; Treasurer and four Councillors.

All things being equal, Queensland should, hopefully, have caught up with the rest of Australia by adding shared care glaucoma medications and two outstanding anti-inflammatories to its therapeutics list by the time the new Council is determined.

The new Council will turn its attention to other strategic goals that may include:

  • Working with Government to ensure that all public eye patients are required to consult a private or public optometrist in the first instance
  • Working with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and Divisions of GP to encourage all eye patients out of GP clinics and into optometry practices
  • Enabling optometrists to sign Workcover forms and a raft of other forms
  • School screening by private optometrists
  • Funding the Queensland Vision Initiative Inc. to facilitate an ongoing State-wide eye health awareness campaign
  • Mandatory optometric examinations for all drivers

Council will also form a number of committees to deal with recurrent issues including CPD, diabetes initiatives, complaints resolution and events.

One of the delights of the Council system over the last few years was to have a QUT School of Optometry student observer on Council to learn about the challenges and opportunities that are presented to the profession and to act as a link to students on campus. Past students who have ‘graduated’ to Council are current members Kate Johnson and Kady Brandon and former Councillor Dave Foresto, now resident in Tasmania. This year, fourth-year Queensland Optometry Students Society (QOSS) President Emily Woodman, joined Council in the same capacity. Dave, Kate and Kady have made outstanding contributions to the profession in key areas including policy development, media and advocacy. Greg Johnson



National Registration and Accreditation Scheme

As many would be aware, the implementation of a National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS) for Health Professionals has been underway for some time.

Following the 2006 decision by Council of Australian Government (COAG), it was decided that a nationally consistent system was required that would allow for portability of qualifications and the elimination of jurisdictional boundaries for health professions. This would eliminate the need for multiple registrations and allow for individuals to work anywhere within the country. This new system will now become operational by July 2010.

To assist members in understanding how the new system would likely operate, presentations by the WA Deputy Premier and Health Minister Dr. Kim Hames, recently took place at a Members Forum of WA members.

Also presenting on the night were CEO Canberra John Beever and National President Andrew Harris.

OAA has been extremely proactive and involved from the onset of the COAG announcement in working with all State jurisdictions, the ten health professions involved and various government officials in reaching this point in the scheme’s evolution. The start of NRAS will benefit not only optometry, but also the other nine health professions directly involved. Most importantly it will help create a health system of a world class standard to the community at large and improve the overall level of patient care as a result.

WA Moves Towards Prescribing Rights

A new push to provide WA members with getting therapeutic prescribing rights was also outlined at the WA Members Forum.

Minister Hames told the forum on national registration and accreditation that the WA Government’s expectation was that the Optometry Board of Australia would provide advice on a national approach to therapeutics. Minister Hames said national registration was an opportunity to bring what WA optometrists could do for their patients in line with the rest of the country.

“The plan is the States will legislate as soon as practical so the current and the new arrangements can run in parallel for as long as possible. This is intended to create a smooth transition,” he said.

WA President Geoff Smith told the Members Forum: “Ensuring WA optometrists can practice to the full extent of their training will remove a substantial barrier to recruiting optometrists to this State. We are extremely pleased to see that the State will now come in line with all the other States and Territories in prescribing rights. This great news for WA optometrists and their patients,” he said.

“Aligning WA prescribing practice with the rest of the country is long overdue and we thank Minister Hames for his decision,” he told the Members Forum.

Western Australian Vision Education Conference (WAVE) 2009.

There’s still time to register for WAVE 2009!

The OAA WA Education Committee has been hard at work in developing yet another informative and educationally diverse program for delegates. This year’s conference has again been able to bring together some of the leading eye health professionals, researchers and business practitioners from WA and around Australia to impart their collective knowledge to members. This not only makes for an educationally informative program but also entertaining in its variety and content covered.

While several regular favourites are once more involved, several new faces are making their WAVE speaking debut, including NSW optometrist and contact lens specialist Emmanuel Calligeros, new Director of Lions Eye Institute Dr. David Mackey and Professor Bernard Pearn- Rowe, Foundation Professor of Clinical Studies at the School of Medicine, University Notre Dame Fremantle.

WAVE has developed a reputation for a type of program that continues to offer members the ability to take part in a hands-on approach to practical and quality learning. 36 CPD points are available by attending WAVE 2009.

The Trade Exhibition will again be at capacity with a comprehensive display of equipment and technology on offer for the profession. Our thanks to these companies for their tremendous and ongoing support that make WAVE possible.

In addition there will be:

  • The Friday Lecture Series, short sharp and informative
  • The Friday Evening Cocktail Party by Perth Scientific and BOC Instruments immediately following the Friday Lectures
  • The Gala Dinner at The Red Herring, East Fremantle, on the Swan River.
  • Saturday Clinical Workshops, hands on learning,
  • Sunday Lecture Series and
  • Delegate Prize Draw with lots of great prizes to be won.

WAVE will be held on 28 to 30 August 2009 at the Esplanade Hotel Fremantle. For more information or to download the program and registration form, go to: www.optometrists.asn.au/information/events/wave2009

Completed registration forms can be returned by fax: (AUS) 08 9321 2355 or post to PO Box 375 Subiaco WA 6904.

I look forward to seeing you at WAVE 2009 and being a part of the WAVE experience. Tony Martella



Optometry Focuses on Hobart this Month

‘Optometry – The Big Picture’ is the theme for the fifth Tasmania’s Lifestyle Congress (TLC) to be held in Hobart from 14 to 16 August. TLC V will also incorporate the first European Eyewear Low Vision Clinic, which has created a great deal of interest from other eye health workers in addition to optometrists from most Australian states.

Tasmanian CEO Geoff Squibb said that interest in TLC V was earlier and greater than previous years and this year included much interest from New Zealand.

The keynote speaker is Professor Joseph Sowka from Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry in Florida where he teaches the courses in glaucoma and retinal disease.

The Annual Keith Mackriell Lecture will be given by Townsville optometrist Gary Page whose presentation will focus on post-operation care by optometrists in a regional setting. This lecture is named in honour of former long-serving Tasmanian Executive Director Keith Mackriell. Noted Tasmanian ophthalmologist Dr. Nitin Verma will speak on the management of visual loss in diabetic eye disease.

For the first time at TLC, a breakfast session sponsored by Australian Contact Lenses and The Cornea and Contact Lens Society will be held. Guest speaker at the breakfast is Richard Lindsay who will talk about post-operative contact lens fit and other challenges.

Adjunct Professor Jan Lovie-Kitchin will deliver a number of presentations over the weekend including the main lectures at the European Eyewear Low Vision Seminar.

This year’s Congress will be opened by Tasmanian Deputy Premier, Attorney General and Health Minister Hon. Lara Giddings. Other speakers on the comprehensive program which is worth 34 CPD points include Piers Carozzi, Andrew Harris, Lainie Tomming, Graeme Sheil, Liz Kearney, Catia Sicari and Andrew Hogan. Other highlights of TLC V include the entertaining Hypotheticals at Parliament House on the opening night and the Coopervision Congress Dinner, this year to be held at Harbour View One, overlooking Hobart’s famous waterfront.

An extensive trade exhibition will again feature 15 generous Congress sponsors. Further Congress details and registration forms are available from Tasmanian Optometrists Association CEO Geoff Squibb. Phone: (AUS) 03 6224 3360 or email: [email protected] Geoff Squibb



Government healthcare

The Minister of Health Tony Ryall, in his first Letter of Expectations for District Health Boards for 2009/10, has outlined the new Government’s goals for District Health Boards. The main focus is on delivering “better, sooner and more convenient healthcare for all New Zealanders.” His letter continues on to say: “We want shorter waiting times, less bureaucracy, and a trusted and motivated health workforce.”

To achieve this, the Ministry of Health expects to transfer some of the secondary services out to primary healthcare at no cost to the patient and for the establishment of multi-disciplinary Integrated Family Health Centres which can provide a full range of health services.

The Government has allocated NZD$6.5 million in 2009/2010 and NZD$13 million in 2010/2011 to fund the transition process needed to facilitate the change (as opposed to funding the services shifted directly). It should also be noted that hospital-based services which are currently provided free of charge to patients will continue to remain free if they are shifted to primary healthcare.

It is hoped this will lead to increased vision screening referrals for optometrists and increased co-operation amongst healthcare providers.

Annual conference

NZAO Conference is being held on 15 to 18 October at the Christchurch Convention Centre. Keynote speakers Professor Susan Cotter and Dr. Lou Lipschultz will be a dynamic duo to present on a range of topics around children’s vision and low vision. As in previous years there will also be a pre-conference therapeutics seminar with Dr. Simon Dean, Dr. Jennifer Craig and Richard Johnson.


Many N.Z. optometrists would be sadden by the passing of Prof. Ted Grosvenor on 3 March 2009. Prof. Grosvenor first became involved in optometry in New Zealand in the mid 1960s as the founder and director of the optometry programme at the University of Auckland. He was an energetic academic with six textbooks and numerous scientific papers published in only a few decades.

Prof. Grosvenor became a member of the Association on 16 March 1967; was awarded the H.S. Gilberd Memorial Medal in 1969 and was made an honorary member in November 1979. Even though he returned to the United States, Ted Grosvenor kept up his links with New Zealand occasionally writing to the Association. He last visited in 2004 when he gave the Inaugural Alan Bott Memorial Lecture.