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HomemioptometryOptometry Association Reports Aug 2010

Optometry Association Reports Aug 2010

Happenings and events from the optometry divisions in Australia and New Zealand


Andrew McKinnon

After a recent weekend exhibiting at the General Practitioners Conference and Exhibition (GPCE), I am more convinced than ever that GPs and pharmacists in particular are the growth area for optometry into the future.

A group of Sydney optometrists, with the generous support of the Centre for Eye Health and Carl Zeiss Vision, set up a retinal camera and, for the first time, an OCT.

…I am more convinced than ever that GPs and pharmacists in particular are the growth area for optometry into the future.

Over the three days of the GPCE we were constantly busy – and the attending GPs were uniformly impressed that all optometrists in NSW and ACT now had access to this type of technology through the Centre for Eye Health (CFEH).

And this is the angle that optometry should be promoting. Through the CFEH, optometrists now have access to absolutely world-leading diagnostic and imaging skills. With this support, optometrists are impeccably placed to work with their local GPs to manage a much wider range of eye conditions.

This means that patients can receive much more convenient (and often more affordable) care and the incidence of unnecessary referrals to our valuable specialist colleagues should be significantly reduced.

It is a great story – but one that I fear many optometrists are not telling their GPs (and pharmacists).

So here’s the challenge – firstly, register with CFEH (www.cfeh.com.au) Secondly, get out of the practice and go and see your local GPs. Talk to them about the Centre’s facilities and the fact that they and their patients now have access to all of this via you!

And thirdly, don’t forget your local pharmacists. The pharmacist is very often the first port of call for acute care. They need to know that you have both your own expertise and the backup of the CFEH. Once they know that, they’ll be a lot more confident referring people to you.

Yes, it’s a bit of work and sometimes it can be a little uncomfortable. But its well worth it and as a practice builder, it beats the hell out of two-for-one deals!


Terri Smith

Recent sessions provided by the Victorian Division for members have proved popular.

We had an overwhelming response from members interested to hear an update about National Registration. Clearly the changes to the profession have members thinking about what it means for them. Jane Duffy, the Victorian optometrist on the new Optometry Board of Australia (OBA), presented at a packed member information session.

Members were particularly interested in finding out about the impact of the new system in relation to recency of practice and maternity leave. They were also intrigued by Jane’s step-by-step account of the questions they will need to answer in their annual declaration. We were all reminded of the importance of this annual declaration. It is a legal declaration and should not to be taken lightly. If members have any questions at all about the declaration when they are asked to complete it later this year, they should contact the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency (AHPRA) on (AUS) 1300 419 495. AHPRA is the new national agency with day-to-day responsibility for administering the activities of the OBA and the other health profession boards. When making a declaration it is better to be sure you have understood the requirements than to be explaining later why you got it wrong!

With CPR now a requirement for optometrists, we decided to offer sessions for members at the Victorian Division office. Whilst it is easy enough for most members to find a session close to their home or work we wanted to give members the option of coming together with other optometrists to learn or refresh their CPR skills. This has been well received. The July session was booked out within a week so we have scheduled further evening sessions in August and September as well. Contact the office on (AUS) 03 9652 9100 for further information.

Under the new national registration scheme CPR is a requirement for all health professionals. You are required to undertake an accredited course every three years. CPR does not attract CPD points.

Helping you to keep up to date is an important part of our work. Please let us know if you have any ideas for information or CPD sessions you would like us to organise.


Greg Johnson

The Division successfully trialled “Optometry Week” back in May and is satisfied that the concept is worth placement in its annual calendar.

The preferred period of the 19 to 23 July was chosen and it comprised a ‘virtual’ week dedicated to boosting the profile of optometry in Queensland and the Northern Territory. The goal of the exercise was to encourage Queenslanders and Territorians to ‘See Your Optometrist’.

The cornerstone of the week was media and a different ocular topic was chosen each day and became the subject of state-wide releases and comment by member optometrists. Members were encouraged to put up signage and run activities in their practices aimed at getting local communities involved.

The week was designed to support local optometry practices by promoting optometrists as active community health professionals who can help ease the burden on local healthcare (GPs in particular), and treat those with eye problems quickly and effectively. The Division is keen to educate Queenslanders and Territorians about the role that optometrists play in general health care, not only by prescribing spectacles, but also through advice on eye health issues, treatments and preventative measures.

Members received a suite of tools including media releases and fact sheets, as well as signage and promotional items to help promote the week in their practices.

BBS Public Relation’s Amanda Robson and Alice Edey managed the campaign on behalf of the Division and said they would welcome feedback/new ideas from members. To contact Amanda and Alice, email [email protected] or [email protected].

North Queensland Vision

The inaugural (11 to 13 June 2010) North Queensland Vision meeting in Cairns was an outstanding success with 120 delegates attending from every state and territory and New Zealand. Sincere thanks to sponsors Abbott Medical Optics, BOC Instruments, Coopervision, Essilor, Eyres and Specsavers and exhibitors Carl Zeiss, Carl Zeiss Vision, CIBAVision, Eyecare Plus, HICAPS, Investec Experien, Medfin, Optical Manufacturers and Sunshades for making it possible. Thank you also to mivision and Todd Tai for reporting on the event.

Next year, the 30 CPD point NQV2011 will be held from 10 to 12 June (always the Queen’s Birthday long weekend) at the Shangri-La Hotel Cairns in its much larger conference room with spacious exhibition hall ensuring that all applicant exhibitors are allocated space.


Libby Boschen

Is your practice at risk under the new Children’s Protection Legislation?

Read on for three ways the Association is making compliance under the new laws easy for its South Australia members, leaving them free to get on with their business.

As if the required changes under National Registration aren’t enough to keep you on your toes; optometrists and optometry practices in South Australia must also be ready for the roll-out of the Children’s Protection (Implementation of Report Recommendations) Amendment Act 2009, should the authorities come knocking next year.

Under this new legislation, all health practitioners dealing with children (including optometrists) will be required to produce a criminal history check that meets the SA government’s requirements. In addition, all optometry businesses will have to lodge a ‘child safe policy’ with the department. Both will need to be completed within timeframes to be released soon.

The Association maintains a close relationship with government to ensure that it’s in the best possible position to keep members informed of what they have to do and when. Furthermore, because criminal history checks will also be required under national registration, the Association is liaising with the Optometry Board of Australia to ensure that the criminal history check completed by our members to comply with the new child protection legislation in South Australia, will also satisfy the OBA’s requirements. End result: one less administrative task for our members.

Not only that, the Association is working with the department to apply for a criminal history check for all of our members. Instead of having the hassle of completing a form and lodging it personally at a police station, Association members will just need to authorise the Association to include their name in the group application and will be rewarded with a police clearance and letter to that effect that will last three years.

What’s more, members with their own optometry businesses can choose to be included under an umbrella ‘child safe policy’ developed by the Association in consultation with the department. This will save them the time and headache of developing and lodging their own.

Compliance under the latest legislation: all wrapped up for Association members.


Geoff Squibb

Congress Proving Popular

Tasmania’s Lifestyle Congress (TLC VI) will break all previous records if the early enquiries are any indication. A record number of exhibitors will see the trade expo hall packed to capacity, and long before the congress brochures and registration forms were out, the Tasmanian office was fielding much higher than normal requests for information.

Tasmanian President Tim Powell said he was delighted that new Tasmanian Health Minister, Hon. Michelle O’Byrne would officially open TLC VI at Tasmania’s historical Parliament House on Friday 27 August. Powell also said that the impressive array of speakers had obviously sparked much of the interest. He said Tasmanian optometrists in particular were looking forward to hearing the latest on the Bionic Eye Project from Dr. Chi Luu. This year TLC will offer online assessment for the first time which will enable delegates to increase their CPD points from 31 if they attend all sessions, to 45 if they pass the assessments. Other speakers include: Dr. Alex Gentle, Dr. Phil Anderton, Dr. Ehud Zamir, Dr. Paul McCartney, Neil Murray, Prof. Noel Brennan, Roseanne Gregory, Dr. Alan Johnston, Geoff Lawson and Joe Chakman.

National Registration Legislation Adopted

Despite the state election held in March this year, the Tasmanian Parliament was able to pass the package of Bills to enable Tasmania to participate in NRAS (National Rental Affordability Scheme) from 1 July. The two Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Bills were passed without a great deal of debate. The third Bill, the Optometry Offences Bill which contained provisions for dispensing and prescriptions for optical appliances, was amended to include cosmetic contact lenses as optical appliances following representation by the OAA Tas and the Optometrists Registration Board.

Public Awareness Campaign

Members of the Tasmanian division met with the new Health Minister around the time of the state budget to discuss the proposals included in the Association’s submission to candidates prior to the state election. Tasmanian President Tim Powell said that he was hopeful the Minister would allocate AUD$50,000 this financial year and a further AUD$50,000 in 2011/12 for a Public Awareness Campaign to promote eye health. The Association has offered to administer the fund and seek participation by other eye health and vision groups.


Tony Martella

We have had a few things on the go recently. First of all, the Gibb River Road Mountain Bike Challenge took place from 22 to 29 of May went brilliantly. We entered two teams, one was called ‘Blind Ambition’ and the other, more competitive team was ‘EyeSee 1’. Our teams rode over 772km over the two days, with more than 400 people taking part in the ride that started at Derby and ended at Kununurra.

The Gibb River Rd ride has been put together by the Western Australian ‘Police Legacy’ over past four years, a charity that supports families and partners killed in action. Half of the funds raised went towards Police Legacy and the other half went towards our charity of choice, which was Equal Health. This is a medical group that does work overseas including optometry. Equal health is a grass roots non-religious, non political WA-based charity providing multidisciplinary health care in countries with developing economies such as Bali, India, Thailand and South Africa.

One of our dispenser members has been helping out with organisation for this charity for a number of years. Equal Health depends solely on fundraising and donations for support. To support this group go to: www.equalhealth.org.au.

In total we raised over AUD$9000.00, half of which went towards Equal Health. It was great to get everyone together including optometrists from our North West group plus ophthalmologist Dr. Angus Turner, dispenser Glen Taylor as well as optometrists’ partners.

The Ocular Therapeutics course for Western Australian optometrists commenced on 30 July. This course is being delivered by UNSW, who have been contracted to deliver it locally. We will have 30 optometrists going through this first course which UNSW is delivering. UNSW will also be providing the course for South Australia at the same time. That makes a total of 60 students undertaking the course.

The Course looks set to continue for the next couple of years with at least another 60 members wanting to take part. This all goes well in not only training and endorsement of therapeutically of optometrists, but in the improved level of patient care to the public that will result