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HomemioptometryOptometry Association Reports Sep 2011

Optometry Association Reports Sep 2011

Happenings from Australia and New Zealand


Andrew McKinnon

I’ve had a run of calls from members recently, asking about whether or not a restraint clause that they signed up for in an employment or licensing contract is enforceable. Now while I obviously can’t offer legal advice, I can tell them that from experience, this is not the sort of question they should be asking as a business relationship comes to an end – it should be at the start!

Restraint clauses have only one purpose – to protect the proprietary interests of the principal (in whatever guise that principal might be).

I know that many delegates took advantage of the opportunity to secure more CPD points in the lead up
to registration in November

Now typically a restraint clause will stop you from working as an optometrist or opening an optometry practice within a certain radius for a certain period of time.Are they always enforceable? Not necessarily – but certainly they are sometimes.

My basic advice is this – if you sign an agreement with another party, be it employer, licensor, landlord, whatever, be prepared to be bound by it. If you don’t like a clause, negotiate it, but if you sign for it, by and large it’s yours!

But what if your circumstances change and you no longer want to be bound by it? Well, that’s what courts are for. The licensor/employer will very commonly seek to restrain you from acting in contravention of the agreement via an injunction. You can, of course, challenge that – the NSW Supreme Court is well used to such challenges. The question, of course, is how deep are your pockets?

A good barrister might cost you AUD$5,000 a day – oh, plus a junior barrister, instructing solicitor and support staff. And that’s just for the hearing day – it doesn’t include preparatory time, case meetings or research work.

This can become very expensive very quickly – and it is almost always avoidable. You avoid it by getting legal advice before you sign, not after!


Terri Smith

All Victorian members are invited to our Annual General Meeting, which will be held in the seminar room at OAA Vic, 28 Drummond St, Carlton on Monday 17 October. Annual General Meetings can be dull affairs but we promise to keep ours quick and casual. We have proposed a small constitutional change that will be voted at the meeting and we will have an update on the new optometry model at the University of Melbourne, so please consider coming along. The meeting lasts just one hour, then you have an opportunity to share a drink and dinner with friends and colleagues.

SRC 2012

I know it seems a world away but planning is well underway for SRC 2012. Our Education Committee is at work to make sure we can offer you another high quality, interesting and diverse program in 2012. We have now confirmed our two international keynote speakers; Drs. Jill Autry and Mark Dunbar. Please put the dates in your diary for SRC 2012: Saturday 19 May to Monday 21 May.

Keep Your Details Up-to-Date

Registration renewals with the Optometry Board Australia are just around the corner so it is a good time to check that all the information published on the register about you is correct. You might be surprised to hear that we recently noticed a member whose gender was described as undetermined! It is worth a look.

While you’re at it, why not check to see that your CPD record is up to date and update your OAA membership details at www.optometrists.asn.au.

It really is important that we have a current email and hard mail address for you. We also need to know if you are therapeutically endorsed, where you practice and whether or not you are happy to receive third party mail outs. A couple of minutes on the website will ensure that you receive only the information you want from us and at the correct addresses.

CPR Requirements

By 30 November you need to be able to declare that you have undertaken an accredited CPR course sometime in the last three years. We have added two more dates to our member’s CPR calendar: Tuesday 11 October and Monday 7 November. Call (AUS) 03 9652 9100 to book in.

Finally, don’t forget that if you have any questions, queries or ideas, give us call. We are always happy to chat to members.


Greg Johnson

Alcon Australia has generously provided four scholarships of AUD$2,000 each in 2011 for students undertaking QUT’s Graduate Certificate in Ocular Therapeutics.

The scholarships are designed to assist in providing increased ocular health care in under serviced areas in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

To be eligible to receive a scholarship you must be a financial member of Optometrists Association Australia Queensland and Northern Territory Division. You must also declare that you are funding 100 per cent of the course fees and related costs.

In a written submission, you’ll need to outline your motivation for taking the course and your view on how the course will alter the patient care you are able to deliver. Additionally, you will be asked to outline any contribution you have made to the eye health of less advantaged communities in Queensland and Northern Territory.

A Selection Committee will assess applications. That Committee will comprise two senior representatives from Alcon Australia, and two Optometrists Association Australia Queensland and Northern Territory Division’s Therapeutics Committee representatives including the Chairperson and the Division’s President. Serving Divisional Councillors are ineligible to apply.

Contact the OAA Queensland and Northern Territory division on (AUS) 07 3839 4411 for more information and an application form.


It is with mixed emotions that I recently announced my resignation as Chief Executive Officer of the OAA Queensland and Northern Territory.

Over 11 years, I have established relationships with hundreds of people in the optometry profession, with government, the opposition and with a range of other stakeholders and organisations.

When I was first employed with the division, I was given a number of goals, and I’m proud to say that these have all been achieved, including the main goal which was to introduce ocular therapeutics to the profession.

In leaving the OAA, I am confident that my replacement at the helm of the OAA QLD/NT will bring new energy to the Division over the coming years.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of OAA around the country, and especially in Queensland and Northern Territory, for their support during my time with the Association.


The New Zealand Association of Optometrists

Save Our Sights – Nearly 10 years old

Save our Sight has been running since 2002 with the express aim of raising public awareness of the need to prevent vision impairment and blindness.

Is it working and how can we tell? We think yes. While it is extremely hard to change public attitudes and very hard to measure any change, we have some intuitive feeling about how well we are doing.

Looking back to 1997, a survey of 521 people revealed that 48 per cent had visited an eye care practitioner in the past two years and 21 per cent had visited an eye care practitioner in the past – and possibly would in the future. Almost one third of respondents had never visited an eye care practitioner at all.

Of the total 1997 sample, 208 people – 40 per cent – would choose to visit an optometrist for eye care. In other words, in 1997 less than half the people surveyed recognised any value in optometry or
in regular eye exams.

Jump forward to 2009 and the Save our Sight survey for that year. Of the 507 people surveyed 334 (66 per cent) had an eye exam in the past five years and 71 per cent chose an optometrist for their regular eye health care. People were aware of changes to eyesight that might affect them and their health – 86 per cent reported noticing changes before the age of 50, and 70 per cent reported using some kind of refractive correction to assist vision.

Better still, only 16 per cent of all people surveyed had never had an eye examination, down from nearly 33 per cent in 1997.

It also seems that we are making headway on spreading information about causes of blindness and preventive eye health care, although there is still a way to go. More than half of the 2009 survey respondents (56 per cent) recognised that macular degeneration is a leading cause of blindness and 47 per cent were aware that diabetes causes changes that can be detected in the eyes.

This year, with our message at risk of being overwhelmed by the hype surrounding the 2011 Rugby World,
we started our Save our Sight campaign earlier than usual and ran a programme of regular bursts of advertising through to the end of August.

Our aim this year, is to ensure the public of New Zealand can become truly aware of what to expect in a comprehensive eye exam and will value the proper health care that they need to prevent vision loss or unnecessary blindness.

Budget Delivers But Cuts Back on Kids

New Zealand’s 2011 Budget delivered an extra NZD$2.2 billion to public health services over the next four years, including an additional NZD$585 million in initiatives in 2011/12. This included an additional NZD$68 million for more elective surgery (cataracts anyone?) and NZD$132 million for disability support services.

However, the Ministry of Health has also announced it will cut funding for children’s glasses, and worse still, tighten eligibility criteria.

We Need to Get Active

If members want to ensure the children’s glasses subsidy is recognised for the good it does and not just the amount it costs, we all need to get active.

We need to ask how the Minster of Health can possibly justify a reduction in funding or limiting the criteria for the Children’s Glasses Subsidy when there is an extra NZD$132 million for disability support services in the budget to meet rising needs and costs?

We need to make sure that some of that NZD$132 million for disability support services support kids with impaired vision.

It is necessary for people to understand what it would mean for children if the funding is capped or reduced at a level that prevents all eligible children from receiving the subsidy… If the subsidy is only available under the disability equipment fund then you will need to explain to many, many parents that their children will miss out.

The criteria for funding from this source specifies that spectacles may be provided if a registered ophthalmologist or optometrist has assessed that:

  • the person’s corrected vision, in the better eye, does not exceed 6/24 with corrective lenses, or
  • the person has a significant limitation in the binocular central field or vision not less than 10 degrees in extent in the widest diameter, or that their overall binocular visual field has an extent of 30 degrees or less in the widest diameter.

It is an election year – please make an appointment to see your local MP and explain how important vision is for children’s growth, development and learning. National Office is putting together a bundle of pamphlets and key facts for you to take and leave with your parliamentary representative.

If every parent of a child receiving glasses with the Children’s Glasses Subsidy signs a letter for their optometrist to mail, then every MP in the country will know that children really benefit from this funding and that cutting the budget will hurt many, many low-income families.


Tony Martella

Thanks to our impressive presenters as well as members of the eye care profession from around Australia and New Zealand who met together in August to participate in WAVE. This year’s conference was an enormous success with a strong focus on therapeutics as part of the educational program. I know that many delegates took advantage of the opportunity to secure more CPD points in the lead up to registration in November.

An impressive line-up of exhibitors provided the opportunity to network and find out all about the latest eyewear and eye testing equipment available right now. And of course, the conference dinner, with entertainment from… was hugely enjoyable.

In late July we held our second annual therapeutics course. There were 30 optometrists from Western Australia who want to practice therapeutics at the course, which is run by OAA in conjunction with the University of New South Wales.

The last few months have been extremely busy and while our two main events for the year are now over, there’s no slowing down here at OAA in Western Australia. Over the next few months we will begin to plan educational events for 2012, our continued program to provide eye care to homeless people of WA and of course WAVE 2012.

If you have any questions about registration, CPD or otherwise, please don’t hesitate to contact us on
(AUS) 08 9321 2300.