Happenings and comments from Australia and New Zealand.
I harbour a deep and abiding fear for many of our colleagues in optometry. The fear is that for many, the implications of national registration aren’t real. After all, we’ve existed in a pretty cosy cocoon for decades, while various laws and administrations have come and gone – why should this be any different?
This one is different because of its size.
I am worried that our colleagues think that the CPD standard is flexible, like the old OAA standard used to be. It isn’t…
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) now registers over 600,000 health practitioners. Optometrists make up 0.75 per cent of that total number. We’re not even 1 in 100.
Big bureaucracies like AHPRA, have to have rules by which they work – otherwise they become chaotic.
AHPRA has rules – and they stick to those rules.
One of the rules is that if you have a police history of any sort, you will be subject to investigation by the Australian Federal Police before your registration is approved. One of our colleagues committed a misdemeanour offence almost 30 years ago. This colleague was charged but the matter never went to court – it was too small. But the fact of the charge meant that it had to be investigated. The practitioner has been out of work for six weeks while the investigation proceeds. It is absurd, but it is The Rule.
Another of The Rules relates to Continuing Education – optometrists must get 40 points of Continuing Education by 30 November annually. It’s a line in the sand – 40 points. You either make it or you don’t. You can’t get close – it’s black and white.
This is where my fear emerges – I am worried that our colleagues think that the CPD standard is flexible, like the old OAA standard used to be. It isn’t.
I’m not critical of AHPRA – they have been given The Rules by health ministers around the country – unanimously. They have to work within those rules.
But equally, we as a profession have to accept that The Rules are real – and we’ll ignore them at our individual peril.
May is all about the Southern Regional Congress (SRC) in Victoria and this year we are delighted to be welcoming record numbers of delegates from all around the country – and as far afield as Canada. At this stage we expect at least 200 more delegates than last year!
For this year’s congress we will run a dual program on both Sunday and Monday. This gives delegates the opportunity to choose sessions of particular interest from two different programs. SRC delegates are guaranteed that they can achieve their required annual CPD points and those with therapeutic registration can tick off their required 20 therapeutic points.
The increased numbers at SRC makes it clear that optometrists have taken on board the message that continuing professional development is now mandatory. You must complete 40 CPD points by the end of November. If you haven’t started planning your CPD for this year you really should start thinking about it – and it’s not too late to book in for SRC, which runs from 14 – 16 May.
Meanwhile, we continue to offer monthly evening CPR courses at our offices in Carlton – under new national registration regulations, optometrists must complete an accredited CPR course every three years. During these courses, members share a night of learning and fun with their colleagues and receive their updated certificates. Be sure to book in early as these sessions have been selling out each month.
On 5 July from 6.30 – 8.30pm we will run a CPD session with Carl Zeiss – OCT: Clinical Interpretation and Integration. There is no charge for this session, which will be held at our offices, but you will need to register by calling (AUS) 03 9652 9100.
Stay tuned for details of a session on ‘Moving from Bulk-billing’, which we think will be of great interest to some of our members. As always, we are very happy to run CPD sessions and love hearing ideas from members. Please let us know if there are information or CPD sessions you would like us to run.
I hope to see you at one of our events over the next few months. If you see me at SRC please stop and say hello. We love having so many members together in one place.
OAA Qld / NT
The division has been extremely fortunate to forge very important relationships in the area of diabetes over recent years. Our exceptionally close partnership with Diabetes Australia Queensland enables member optometrists to present at the monthly ‘EXPOsing Diabetes’ meetings and for the OAA to take complimentary exhibition spaces at those meetings. Likewise, our relationship with the Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADEA) goes from strength to strength with an annual seminar/dinner and ongoing efforts from ADEA members to ensure that optometrists are better relied upon as part of the diabetes care team.
On the Darling Downs, our immediate past President, Shannon Smith, and CEO, Greg Johnson, attend monthly meetings of the ‘Toowoomba Diabetes Network’ and never miss an opportunity to encourage general practitioners and other health professionals to rely more on the training, expertise and diagnostic equipment inventory of optometrists. That partnership has recently taken an entirely new direction. The OAA has played a significant role in convening the inaugural workshop – ‘Improving Diabetes Care across Darling Downs and Southwest Queensland’ – which will be held in Toowoomba in June.
The workshop is aimed at all health professionals on the Darling Downs, South Western District – public, private, medical, nursing and allied health. Its purpose is to gain a greater understanding of the difficulties faced by those in the professional community and to work towards practical solutions and better connectedness. The day will include presentations from Dr. Sheila Cook, endocrinologist, and many others from a wide range of professions.
People who are unable to attend the workshop are invited to put forward their ideas and concerns on the key questions that will be explored on the day, namely:
1. How do clinicians find out what services are available to patients with diabetes?
2. How do clinicians ensure that all patients with diabetes have access to safe, reliable and useful care wherever they are?
3. What is the best way for members of the diabetes team to communicate with each other?
4. How do clinicians ensure that all health professionals working with patients with diabetes provide high quality care and feel supported in doing so?
The OAA has produced collateral in relation to the workshop and will field questions from delegates as well as register delegates online. It is anticipated that a number of local optometrists will provide lectures on the day and operate diagnostic equipment for the information of delegates from other professions.
Lately, I have been helping a lot of members with legislative issues. In addition to providing support and advice during the transition from state to national registration, the legal implications of inducements under national registration and the changing parameters of Medicare, the Association continues to provide hands-on, practical support to its members in South Australia during the implementation of the Children’s Protection Amendments Act 2009. All optometry practice owners were briefed on how to lodge their child-safe environment compliance statement by the required time, with personal over-the-phone coaching as required.
Members were positive. They appreciated receiving tailored advice and a range of pre-prepared documents and templates that they can either simply paste their practice name into or stick and paste selectively to existing practice policies and procedures. All of this saves valuable practitioner time and gives members the peace of mind that they have met their legal obligations. As one member said “thank God I have you guys to keep on top of all these things for me!” Well the good news is that he didn’t have to thank anyone but himself for maintaining his Association membership!
Advocacy and keeping on top of the legislative issues on behalf of members is one of the major roles we play. It is my job and that of each of my state and national counterparts to keep up-to-date with current and changing legislation that can affect our members and to keep them informed of what they need to know when they need to know it. It’s also one of the roles that is least visible to members as it’s a back-room slog that can take months and years to achieve results. And the results affect all of optometry and all optometrists. So, if you know someone who is not a member of the association, give them a nudge in the ribs next time you see them and suggest they join and contribute to positive changes in their profession. We would make them very welcome.
TLC VII – “Optometry Today and Tomorrow”
This year’s Tasmanian Lifestyle Congress (TLC VII) to be held in Hobart from 26 – 28 August will offer more than enough CPD points to meet the annual requirements for members re-registering in December.
TLC will continue with its emphasis on low vision, anterior eye disease, contact lenses and therapeutics. Online assessment will again be available at no additional cost to delegates following the success of last year’s trial.
Heading the list of speakers in 2011 will be visiting American lecturers Prof. Joseph Sowka and Dr. Lori Vollmer, noted Australian clinical optometrist and lecturer Associate Professor Mark Roth and Tasmanian Ophthalmologist Dr. Paul McCartney.
Abbott Medical Optics, TLCs first Gold Sponsor is making it possible for the Association to include two overseas speakers on the congress program for the first time.
TLC VII will commence on the evening of Friday 26 August with the Official Opening and ‘Hypotheticals’ at Parliament House. The European Eyewear Low Vision Seminar on the Saturday morning is again creating a lot of interest not only from OAA members but other eye health professionals according to OAA President Karen Garner.
In line with this year’s theme, ‘Optometry Today and Tomorrow’, the CooperVision congress dinner will be held at Moorilla Winery. Delegates will have the opportunity to inspect Australia’s newest and largest privately owned museum MONA – Museum of Old and New Art, following a ferry trip from the congress venue to Moorilla.
The Contact Lens Breakfast is now an integral part of TLC and will be held again on Sunday morning. CPR courses are also being offered both pre and post congress.
TLC VII offers great value for optometrists, not only providing great educational and social programs but CPD points for as little as AUD$12 per point.
There is plenty happening at OAA in Western Australia and it encompasses everything from planning training sessions and conferences through to developing our role within the community and promoting our profession’s graduate opportunities inter state.
I’m pleased to report that planning for our annual WAVE conference is proceeding well and that our program is now out and available to be downloaded from the national website – visit www.optometrists.asn.au and follow the links. Included on our list of keynote speakers for WAVE is Daryl Guest, an optometrist who runs a private practice on the north-west coast of Tasmania. Mr. Guest, who has a particular interest in the role that optometry plays in primary healthcare, returns to WAVE by popular demand and is sure to be well received. Also presenting will be Dr. Celia Chen a Consultant Ophthalmologist and senior lecturer at the Flinders Medical Centre, Adelaide; and Dr. Tim Davis, Winthrop Professor University of WA. Dr. Davis’s presentation will look at ways to predict and calculate risk factors of patients that may develop diabetic eye disease.
Building on the great success of our first therapeutics course which ran from mid 2010 into 2011, we are now in the midst of planning for our second intake. While specific course dates are being finalised as I write, we can confirm a July start.
Also being finalised is the St Patrick’s Community Support Centre Optometry Clinic. This will be a dedicated optometry clinic for homeless people in the City of Fremantle operated from within the St Patricks facility. Initially the clinic will be staffed once a month, on a voluntary basis, by OAA members. All going well, we hope to increase our attendance at the Clinic over time. I have been very grateful for contributions from members of the optical profession who have eagerly assisted the OAA to establish the community clinic by supplying their services, ophthalmic equipment, frames, lenses and equipment generally. Without this support, this worthwhile and important initiative could not have been possible. Optometrists who would like to register to provide voluntary services should contact OAA WA on 08 9321 2300.
Finally, OAA WA has again been out promoting WA as a destination and the opportunities that exist for graduates by attending the recent Victorian and NSW careers expos. Although the State’s retail sector has shown some slow down, the economic stimulus from the mining industry continues to grow and gather momentum and with it, roles for optometry are on the increase. Having attended careers expo’s in Victoria and New South Wales, I’m pleased to report that the response has been positive among graduates looking to relocate. During May OAAWA will again represent the WA profession at the OAA Queensland Employment Expo, in an effort to continue to attract willing grads west.
The New Zealand Association of Optometrists
The annual NZAO Conference takes place in Wellington at the Amora Hotel from Friday 28 – Sunday 30 October. This year we have an impressive line-up of keynote speakers that includes Melbourne based optometrist Mark Roth, who works in a specialist contact lens practice in Armadale and at Monash University, working extensively in the areas of Keratoconus, continuous wear, paediatric contact lenses, orthokeratology and therapeutic management of the problematic contact lens wearer. Mark has a strong interest in ocular therapeutics.
Other keynote speakers include Professor Michael Kalloniatis, former head of the University Auckland Dept. Optometry and Vision Science (DOVS), a co-founder of the New Zealand National Eye Centre and a Director of the Centre for Eye Health, (an initiative of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and the University of New South Wales). Associate Professor Rob Jacobs, Clinical and Professional programs co-ordinator from the University Auckland, DOVS, and Maria Stubbe a senior research fellow at the University of Otago’s School of Medicine and Health, as well as Wellington ophthalmologists Dr Helen Long and Kolin Foo.
Over 200 optometrists from around New Zealand and overseas are expected to attend the NZAO conference. For details visit the www.nzao.co.nz
NZAO continues to offer and coordinate support to optometrists affected by the Christchurch earthquake. A number of practices in central Christchurch have either closed down or have no access to them. Other practices have had to relocate. This is a work in progress and one from which we are sure will emerge a very different city from the last.
Yarra Yarra Golf Day: Hole in One
A Golf Day at the Yarra Yarra Golf Club in Melbourne has raised much needed funds for Optometry Giving Sight.
Eighty-eight golfers took part in the fabulous day in March and went on to enjoy dinner at the club house, which was hosted by comedian, Des Dowling.
“The Golf Day is always an enjoyable way to spend a day while raising much needed funds for Optometry Giving Sight,” commented Ron Baroni, Country Manager for Optometry Giving Sight.
Norm Russo from Dandenong won the Optometrists Trophy with 39 Stableford Points; he also formed one half of the best team with David Kemp (74 points). Travis Coote won the longest drive as well as the ‘nearest the pin’ on the 4th hole, showing that he can not only make the distance, but can be accurate as well!
Displaying perfect accuracy for the second time was Christian Lister who got a hole in one on the 15th hole, reliving his experience from two years ago.
Peter Stewart from High on Vision, won the top raffle prize of a round of golf for four at Yarra Yarra valued at AUD$640.
“Thank you to everyone who attended and who bought raffle tickets during the dinner – they raised AUD$1,500 from the raffle alone,” said Mr. Baroni.
Optometry Giving Sight would like to thank the event sponsors, in particular Gold Sponsor Hoya as well as the event’s Silver Sponsors – ProVision, BOC Instruments, mimo, Servicing Optics and Rodenstock; Bronze Sponsors – RimOptics, Optiqueline, Designs for Vision and Maui Jim.
Thank you also to the event organisers that include: Terri Smith and Laura Grattidge from the OAA VIC; Peter Lewis and David Ludowyk.
Proceeds from the day will help support eye care programs in East Timor, Sri Lanka, Indigenous Australia, South Africa, Vietnam, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Mozambique, Malawi, India, Indonesia, China, India, Peru, Nicaragua, Zambia, Afghanistan and Tanzania.
For more information visit on how you can support Optometry Giving Sight, visit www.givingsight.org.