Happenings and events from the optometry divisions in Australia and New Zealand
It’s that time of year when we look back at the year past and start planning for the approaching year.
The Victorian Division has enjoyed a busy year with lots of member activities and loads of calls, emails and queries from members. We’ve enjoyed assisting members throughout the year with a wide range of questions but by far the most common queries relate to national registration – with questions about continuing professional development (C.P.D.), in general, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (C.P.R.), in particular. If you are still unclear about your responsibilities, please call us on (AUS) 03 9652 9100.
WA joined the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for the health profession
We have enjoyed running monthly C.P.R. sessions throughout the second half of 2010. The sessions have each filled up very quickly. As well as refreshing their C.P.R. knowledge, members have enjoyed catching up with friends over dinner during the session break. We will continue to offer monthly C.P.R. sessions as long as the demand is there.
We are planning another Careers Expo for 2011 to bring together 4th and 5th year students with potential employers. The session will build on the success of our first Expo this year. For members who think they might want to employ a graduate in 2012 or 2013, this is an opportunity to get in early to meet the students. The Careers Expo will be held at Rydges on Swanston in Carlton on Sunday 6 March 2011.
Plans are well underway for the Southern Regional Congress (S.R.C). Get the dates into your diary now – 14 to 16 May 2011. We have a terrific program planned. If you haven’t received a copy you, can find it online at ww.optometrists.asn.au/victoria. Our international speakers are Professor Bruce Onofrey and Dr Diana Shechtman. They will be backed up by Australian keynote speakers, Daryl Guest and Alex Gentle.
We will also run C.P.D. and information sessions during the year in response to your requests, so make sure you let us know if there is something you are interested in.
As a reminder, for Victorian optometrists your optometry registration currently runs until 31 December. You should have received a renewal notice and will need to renew by 31 December. If you have not received your notice contact the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AUS) 1300 419 495.
I wish all our members a happy and safe holiday season and hope to see you in 2011.
With our federal government finally resolved, attention turns to the 2009 health reforms and in particular the transformation of Divisions of General Practice into Primary Health Care Organisations (PHCOs).
At a General Practice Queensland stakeholder meeting on 24 August 2010, I undertook to seek a volunteer optometrist for each of the 17 divisions in the State once Labor had achieved government. Enthusiastic members volunteered for most of the areas and filling the balance was quite easy. Sincere thanks to all these good people.
While PHCO areas will be reduced to between nine and 13, in the meantime, the mix of areas and optometry representatives is as follows:
Brisbane North – Bernie McGrane; Brisbane South (Sailsbury) – David Stephensen; Capricornia – Fiona Moore; Central (Biloela) – Brett Whitehill; Far North – John Holme; Gold Coast – Simon Kelly; Ipswich/West Moreton – Adam Lusk; Mackay – leuan Rees; Moreton Bay – Dr Simon Little; North & West (Mt Isa) – Kady Brandon; South East Alliance (Capalaba) – Gary Moo; South East HealthCare (Logan) – Stuart Macfarlane; South & West (Goondiwindi) – Steven Smith; Sunshine Coast – Andrew McMillan; Toowoomba – Megan O’Hara Sullivan; Townsville – Kady Brandon and Wide Bay – Anthony Kelly.
In October I wrote to General Practice Queensland’s Program Coordinator – Policy with this information and look forward to receiving advice as to the next step.
The comprehensive Australian Vision Convention (formerly Queensland Vision) brochure is in the market and the program is headed by Alcon-sponsored, Ohio-based OD Dr. Mile Brujic with five lectures, three of which relate to contact lenses.
Bionic eye breakthrough researcher A/Professor Michael Ibbotson will outline developments in his ANU research program. Internationally acclaimed presenters Professor Nathan Efron, Dr. Tony Hanks, A/Professor Jan Lovie-Kitchin, Alan Saks and Professor Algis Vingrys head up the four-day event that also features ophthalmologists Drs. Ioanne Anderson, Andrew Apel, David Hilford, Archie Lamb and Graham and Lawrence Lee as well as local optometrists Mark Hinds, Jason Holland, John Holme, Kate Johnson and Julie Newport.
AVC2011 has been scheduled to take place during the week following Easter with public holidays before and after the event. Some State/Territory and NZ schools are also on holiday at this time.
Register at www.optometrists.asn.au/queensland or email Communications Manager Marika Mackenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Finally, best wishes to all members and families for a safe and happy Christmas/New Year break. Optometry House will close for the week after Christmas, however, I can be contacted on email email@example.com or mobile (AUS) 0414 783 343.
The Optometrists Association Tasmanian Division has been successful in obtaining State Government assistance for a Public Awareness Campaign this summer.
The project was one of a number included in a submission, ‘Optometry – The Cornerstone of Eye Care’, prepared for all candidates in the lead up to the state election in March.
The Tasmanian Minister for Health, Hon. Michelle O’Byrne MHA, confirmed in a recent meeting with representatives of the Association that the State Government would contribute AUD$50,000 towards the campaign.
Tasmanian OAA President Karen Garner said that the Association will add AUD$25,000 to this and hoped that other eye health and vision groups may also contribute. Although finer details of the campaign are yet to be finalised Ms. Garner indicated that she expected TV advertising would form the bulk of the campaign. The campaign will focus on the need for regular eye health checks.
The Tasmanian Division along with Royal Guide Dogs Tasmania have also had further discussions with the Minister seeking funding for the employment of an Eye Care Liaison Officer. The position was recommended by the Tasmanian Eye Health and Vision Care Initiative in its report handed down in October last year. The investigation found there is a need to improve communication between eye and other health care professions and that this is best carried out in both public and private eye clinics. It was further recommended that the Eye Care Liaison Officer should visit these clinics and assist the health care provider when addressing the wider arrangement issues of independent living. A similar scheme was introduced in Northern Ireland in 2002 and following evaluation has expanded considerably due to:
- the emotional support to patients and carers at point of diagnosis
- the link between hospital and community services
- information and advice on benefits entitlement
- introduction to further training opportunities
- assisting with blind and partially sighted registration process
and most importantly, the significant cost benefits.
New Zealand Association of Optometrists
The 80th NZAO Conference, held from 14 to 17 October, was a great success. Attendance was good, despite the event being hosted in the Bay of Islands, hundreds of kilometres from a main centre, and accessible via several hours’ driving or a 40 minute flight in the national carrier’s smaller aircraft. A number of the delegates commented that although they had not been keen to travel the distance, the journey had been well worthwhile and it was great to spend time in a beautiful part of New Zealand.
Lecture sessions were timed to start and finish a bit earlier than usual to give delegates time to take in some of the sights or many activities offered around Paihia. The social events were an important part of this conference and all were well attended including a golf tournament for Shepley Cup (first presented in 1935) which was won by Palmerston North optometrist Peter Giles.
On the first day of the conference about 50 delegates participated in the Waka race. Paddling the Maori canoes turned out to be more than just a race; it was a cultural experience that involved learning the famous Haka and team work. For those left supporting from the shoreline with a drink in hand, it was quite a spectacle to see the returning group of optometrists (and a few trade representatives) paddling in time and heading in one direction!
A cocktail evening and conference dinner topped off an educational programme that provided useful learning for all to take away.
Next years the NZAO conference will be held in Wellington at the end of October.
I’m pleased to report that this year the WA division has continued to build on successes from past years by implementing and developing a number of valuable initiatives.
Our most exciting development took place on October 18 when WA joined the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for the health profession. Australia now, has finally a national registration system that allows free movement and portability across borders.
In another significant move, we established the delivery of the first ever ocular therapeutics course to be held locally in partnership with the UNSW. 30 WA members have been attending the first 6 months of the course which is broken into a series of modules covering both didactic and clinical learning. Based on the success of our inaugural course, close to 100 WA members have put their names into the ballot to participate in the 2011 program. I would like to thank Professor Fiona Stapleton and her team at UNSW for their support and we look forward to continuing our work together.
Another success in 2010 was the annual WAVE conference. Wave 2011 promises to be even more exciting with planning underway for a new format and changes to the education program in line with National Registration as well as delegate’s responses and requirements. Given the move to compulsory CPD for optometrists, we reasonably expect to see greater numbers attending CPD events than has happened in the past. Planning for WAVE 2011 and next year’s monthly CPD evenings are currently being finalised by WA OAA’s Education Committee and will be available early in the new year.
In 2010 the WA division continued its important work for the homeless by participating in the Perth Homeless Connect Project (organised by the City of Perth and Volunteering WA) and the Hands on Health Eye Clinic (organised by the St Patrick’s Community Church Group). At the two events, we examined and provided specs and examinations to 100 homeless individuals from the local area in one day. This clearly demonstrates there is a definite need for ongoing optometric services in these communities. As a result, we plan to have a permanent presence at the Hands on Health Clinic and will be sourced by volunteer and industry support.
In closing for the year, I would like to acknowledge all the support that OAAWA has enjoyed during 2010 from our corporate partners, other state OAA divisions, and our national office. It’s fantastic to know the profession has a dedicated and committed secretariat working for us to achieve the outcomes we do and to have the industry behind us. I would also like to thank our WA members especially for their increased involvement and participation over all areas of the division’s operation. It should also be noted that OAAWA President Darrell Baker and the WA Board continue to progress and maintain standards for the profession and the community through their tireless efforts, to that end my gratitude to them all. And of course, I would like to thank Melissa Platt in our office, for her fantastic contribution. In the short time she has been with the Association her efforts have had an immediate and noticeable impact that help make the WA division run smoothly and efficiently as it does.
The last thank you is to the team at mivision and the magazine’s readers – I hope you have enjoyed following what’s happening in Western Australia and we look forward to next year.