Happenings and comments from Australia and New Zealand
Despair is a strong word, but sometimes it’s the only one that will do. Several of my CEO colleagues from other professions have shared this feeling with me recently in relation to national registration.
While there is concern that the registration process hasn’t gone as smoothly as we all would have liked, the despair is reserved for our various members who seem to have been living on Mars for the past 18 months or so.
Health registration has moved to a different plane – and everyone just has to move with it
All of us have horror stories of health professionals who haven’t connected with the myriad of messages that have been sent out about national registration.
Most concerning now is that health funds and Medicare are refusing to pay benefits where a professional has, for whatever reason, been de-registered. For an optometrist, this could amount to tens of thousands of dollars that may need to be repaid.
What many in the smaller professions seem to be struggling with is the reality that they are now part of a very large bureaucracy – AHPRA registers in excess of 650,000 health professionals annually. Any organisation that big needs rules to follow – and the rules are enforced. If they aren’t, the system quickly becomes chaotic.
The old days of knowing the Registrar in the state personally and being able to squeeze some leniency out of the system are gone. Health registration has moved to a different plane – and everyone just has to move with it.
The Victorian division office continues to receive calls and emails from members who want to clarify details of their responsibilities under the new national optometry registration system. Most of these queries are about recency of practice and CPD issues. We are very happy to take your calls or emails on these matters. But more importantly we are happy to talk to you about any issues you might have.
We love it when a member contacts the office with a question or a comment. If it’s a question we love to help. We find we can answer most questions among our staff team – but even if we can’t we generally know where to go to find you an answer. Often an individual question leads us to write an article in Scope or for our website so that the information can be shared with all our members.
So next time you have a question call us on (AUS) 03 9652 9100 or email [email protected]. Better still, why don’t you ring me and invite me to visit. I am planning a series of member visits over the next few months and would love to come to meet you, see your practice and hear about the issues that matter to you.
In the interim we are counting down to another SRC. The program is looking fantastic. Our international and Australian key note speakers will offer a diverse, challenging and interesting program backed up by a host of speakers from across the country. SRC will provide all the points you need for the year – including a full serve of therapeutics points for therapeutically qualified optometrists. We would love to see you at SRC. We are hoping 2011 will be our biggest year ever.
If you aren’t planning on coming to SRC please do make sure you have a plan for achieving your 40 CPD points for the year. I’m sure you are aware by now that you must achieve 40 CPD between 1 December 2010 and 30 November 2011 to satisfy the OBA requirements for re-registration.
We really do hope to hear from you soon.
OAA Qld / NT
One of the nice things that happened since we gained therapeutics in Queensland in 2005 is the very close relationship we have formed with leaders of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and Pharmacy Guild of Australia. Kos Sclavos and Tim Logan from the Guild, Dr. Lisa Nissen and Bruce Elliot from PSA, and senior staff from both organisations, have provided enormous assistance to us and above all have become close friends with OAA leaders and directors.
The PSA relationship has grown to a new level with joint, regular CPD events and social gatherings. The most recent development was PSA’s initiative to call optometrists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, social workers and others to a meeting to discuss the desirability of a joint multidisciplinary meeting. The concept received unanimous support from attendees and thus the ‘Multidisciplinary Health Symposium’ was born. The event will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Pelican Waters on the Sunshine Coast on Saturday and Sunday, 21 – 22 May 2011, and will focus on healthy ageing and aged care.
President Kate Johnson and I were variously appointed to the content and operations committees and participating organisations, and were asked to put forward potential topics for the six streams. Optometry prevailed with three topics – ‘Glaucoma, the sneak thief of sight’, ‘Critical role of optometrists in the diabetes care team’ and ‘Rheumatoid arthritis and vision’.
Additionally I was given responsibility to develop a budget (made easier by generous sponsorships from Abbott Medical Optics and Dorothy McDiarmid), invite General Practice Queensland Chair Dr Dilip Dhupelia to address the meeting on ‘Medicare Locals’ and the piece de resistance, to try to get Deputy Premier/Health Minister, the Hon. Paul Lucas MP, to officially open the meeting. I am pleased to say that we were successful with both invitations thus giving the meeting added credibility.
This is an exciting opportunity and I urge Queensland and interstate practitioners to register, particularly those on the Sunshine Coast. The symposium has an extremely low registration fee of just AUD$395, including the gala dinner, and a large number of CPD points. Register online at www.optometrists.asn.au/queensland and please contact me at [email protected] or on my mobile; (AUS) 0414 783 343 for further particulars.
The Tasmanian Public Awareness Campaign being funded by our State Government, which contributed AUD$50,000 and the Optometry Association, which contributed AUD$25,000, commenced in late February and will run until early May. The campaign, which is being supported ‘inkind’ by Vision 2020 who are providing the Clarke and Dawes commercials, consists of television, radio and newspaper advertising. The key message of the campaign is ‘Save your sight – get tested’.
Meanwhile, arrangements are well in hand for the Tasmanian Lifestyle Congress (TLC VII) which will be held at the Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel from 26 – 28 August. For the first time the TLC program will include two overseas speakers. We have obtained our first ever Gold Sponsor for TLC – Abbott Medical Optics. The Congress dinner will be held at Moorilla winery featuring the new MONA (Museum of Old and New Art).
Once again the association will have a presence at Agfest in May. This annual event provides a valuable opportunity for the OAA to create awareness of the need to have regular eye checks. At the event, we will have a large marquee with promotional displays as well as low vision and safety glasses displays. In 2010, over 67,000 people attended Agfest over three days. People queued for around 20 minutes to enter the marquee where they could take advantage of screening that consisted of visual acuity, colour blindness, tonometer and retinal camera. An optometrist then explained the results and reinforced the need for regular examinations before the person left the marquee. The same service will be provided this year.
Lastly, the Board has commissioned former Executive Director Keith Mackriell to research the history of the Association and to provide a record of office bearers etc.
The Optometrists Association of Western Australia hosted its annual new members’ night in late February at the Vic Hotel in Subiaco. Our guests included graduates as well as qualified optometrists from Australia and overseas, who have joined the Association in the past twelve months. The evening provides a wonderful opportunity to welcome new members to the Association informally over drinks and canapés.
Our CPD education program is off to a flying start. In mid February we held our annual regional members’ evening in Bunbury in the south west of West Australia. Fifteen optometrists – almost all of our members that practice in the area – came along. The evening was sponsored by Pfizer Ophthalmics which brought along Dr. Peter Heyworth, a specialist in the south west. Dr. Heyworth presented on common ocular plastic disorders. The annual education meetings are an important part of the service that the Association provides to members located in major regional areas of the State.
Our first metropolitan members’ educational evening also took place in February. Approximately 100 members participated in the evening which was sponsored by Zeiss. The topic was clinical interpretation and integration of OCT and our key presenters were Dane Moloney from Zeiss and Dr. Rob Paul.
A second metropolitan CPD evening was held in mid March in conjunction with the Cornea and Contact Lens Society of Australia. This was another well attended meeting with approximately 70 participants.
Attendance at a CPD meeting earns you three points and makes a valuable contribution to the 40 points you need to acquire across the year.
Our next CPD course will take place on 10 May, so please, mark your diaries now.
Optometrists in New Zealand have been rocked by the devastating earthquake that shook the Canterbury region in the South Island on 22 February. The second major earthquake to hit the region in just six months, caused enormous impact to lives, infrastructure and businesses.
At the time of writing, we have been unable to ascertain the exact level of damage that has occurred among our members. There are reports that several central city optometry premises have been very badly damaged. With phone networks interrupted, power cut and a request to minimise use of mobile phones to SMS text messages, it is difficult to make contact. However some messages we have sent to optometrists have been answered and we continue to hold out hope for the safety and welfare of all of our members and their families in the area. We are aware of one member who has been tragically killed in a building collapse.
As you’d expect, the New Zealand Association of Optometrists will be endeavouring to assist affected optometrists to get back to business.