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HomemioptometryOptometry Association Reports Mar 2010

Optometry Association Reports Mar 2010

OAA NSW

The economy is looking a lot brighter and the mood is generally more buoyant in the community.

So far, unemployment trends continue to show positive signs and have in fact performed considerably better than many experts predicted. Of all the economic indicators, this is the most significant in helping to keep the Australian economy relatively upbeat.

The share market continues its rebound, rising by 2.4 per cent in December. This is broadly reflective of improved markets globally. For the optical industry, the very strong Australian dollar is helping to keep import prices down, which is very good news on the cost of goods front.

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This general workforce pressure is an issue affecting all industries in the labour market and unfortunately optometry is not immune.

Unfortunately, every silver lining always comes with a dark cloud…

Interest rates will almost certainly continue to rise, a prospect which is causing consumer sentiment to soften. However it is also worth noting that the Westpac Consumer Sentiment Index noted a significantly smaller than expected softening in the index for December 2009.

Retail spending is expected to moderate, but it will be variable depending on the sector. Car sales are anticipated to be particularly vulnerable, whilst smaller consumer items could fare much better. Within optometry itself we face both opportunities and challenges: The increased activity by Medicare Australia around billing compliance is a challenge, especially as it is accompanied by a much more aggressive approach to seeking to recover monies perceived to have been incorrectly paid. However the association is devoting a lot of expertise to the task of supporting members… Just make sure you call early!

Consumer sentiment amongst young people in particular has been positive and this is often where the optical industry generally does well (high disposable incomes, fashion consciousness). Some good signs there.

And finally, we get to have a federal election this year! Always good fun and at the end of the day, about half of us will be happy with the result! I hope you’re in the happy half!

Andrew McKinnon

OAA QLD

Queensland Vision Initiative At A Crossroads

Some seven years ago a group of concerned eye health agencies got together to see if they could take the first steps to replicate the successful Victorian Vision Initiative. They formed the view that Queenslanders needed regular information about eye health matters and a better coordinated eye health delivery system. Thus the Queensland Vision Initiative (QVI) was formed.

Since the inception of the QVI, the OAA has played a substantial role in its operations along with ophthalmologists, pharmacists, general practitioners and representatives of many support agencies. Indeed in the early years some of those agencies provided funding to enable the organisation to employ a project officer and prosper.

The future for the organisation looked bleak in October 2007 as scarce funds ran out. However within the space of a few days, and with the extreme generosity of Queensland Health and the Federal Department of Health and Ageing, our fortunes changed and several grant submissions came to fruition. The grants totalled AUD$200,000 and were for the specific projects of an indigenous eye health scoping exercise and National Eye Health Initiative metropolitan and regional referral projects. Two of those projects have now been satisfactorily completed and the third will be completed this month.

Naturally, the funding that made those projects possible has been fully expended and the organisation finds itself in exactly the same predicament as it was in late 2007. A funding submission placed before the Queensland Health Minister in October 2008 – the success of which would have underwritten the activities of the QVI plus a limited eye health awareness campaign – has thus far been ignored.

Against this background, Divisional President Shannon Smith wrote to all 24 members of the QVI in mid- January asking that they be represented at a meeting to discuss further internal funding to enable the organisation to undertake basic tasks in the short term. The OAA Board has already resolved to provide financial support conditional upon other members making similar pledges.

It is the view of the OAA that the QVI has done much to establish itself as the true voice of the eye health sector in the State. The QVI has established too many Happenings and events from the optometry divisions in Australia and NZ OAR Optometry Association Reports “The increased activity by Medicare Australia around billing compliance is a challenge, especially as it is accompanied by a much more aggressive approach to seeking to recover monies perceived to have been incorrectly paid.” Andrew McKinnon mivision • 45 significant eye health resources to perish due of lack of funding. I look forward to reporting to you soon on a successful outcome from that meeting and perhaps on the success of other grant applications currently in the marketplace.

Greg Johnson


OAA VIC

We have had calls over the last two months from many members seeking information about employment conditions… Perhaps it’s the time of year. In some cases the queries come from optometrists who want to stay with their current employer but are at the stage of renewing their contract and they are wondering what they should be getting paid. Sometimes the calls are from optometrists looking for a new job and wondering what salary package they can expect. We are always happy to take these calls and share what we know about market salaries.

Money is an important part of the employment equation, but in discussing this complex issue, there is more to it than money. I always suggest to members that they look at the big picture, for example:

  • Does the job suit them?
  • What do they like about it?
  • Your friend might be getting paid more but is that a job you would want to do?

Sometimes working near home or not working weekends can be worth a lot in terms of compromising on salary. For others the need to pay off uni debts means that getting paid a considerable salary to work in a remote country area is just what they are looking for.

We also make the point that it is crucial that all your employment conditions are documented. This helps avoid confusion and embarrassment when an employee and an employer have different recollections of what was agreed upon. We also receive queries from employing optometrists seeking advice about keeping or recruiting staff. Generally there is little difference in the advice given to employees and employers.

We are happy to have confidential discussions with all of our members. We are in a good position to help employee and employing optometrists alike… And we love it when members call for a chat so please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call our office on (AUS) 03 9652 9100. Whether it’s about salaries or any other matter related to your work, if we don’t know the answer, there is a good chance we will know someone who does.

Terri Smith

OAA WA

What has become apparent recently is that the WA economy is now showing signs again of taking off as per the economic boom of 2007. To that extent, the global financial crisis (GFC) appeared to affect WA less that it did the other states, thankfully for us.

However, the flipside is that workforce issues are now coming to the fore once again for skilled practice staff and optometrists. This may result in the problem again of a skills shortage, as happened with the mining boom in 2007. There was so much work going on that people were leaving their jobs to go and work on the mines, etc. This general workforce pressure is an issue affecting all industries in the labour market and unfortunately optometry is not immune.

Already, there is also a growing demand for locum support among the profession. I get several enquiries on a weekly basis, probably about three to four enquiries as a guesstimate. I could honestly place that many locums in WA per week if they were looking for work!

To sum up, the start of another boom we’re experiencing at the moment just puts the whole industry in WA under pressure because we’re having difficulties finding people. We are also getting ready for the move to The National Registration and Accreditation System in July. This will have significant implications for the profession as it will at last create a single entity, The Optometry Board of Australia, to look after the profession.

It will be a very exciting time for the optometry profession. As a consequence of this, we are gearing up to have ocular therapeutics up and running in WA. Members will be able to undertake training and get their therapeutic qualification and commence prescribing for their patients in the near future. As WA is the last state to obtain this ability, this will represent a significant shift to the overall benefit and treatment of patients with their eye health care. This is a very good outcome for the community.

By the next issue of mivision, Victoria will have had their inaugural careers expo in Melbourne, which is on 28 February. The implication of this for WA will be that graduates coming out of Victoria will now be able to practice full scope optometry and work with therapeutic medications. This is positive for WA, as previously this may have limited some graduates in choosing to come to WA, but now hopefully there is one less barrier as a result.

Tony Martella