Comment from Australian and New Zealand
Welcome back to what we all hope will be a stellar 2012! And if ‘stellar’ is a bit ambitious, how about ‘steady’ – even that would do!
Late last year, the profession turned its attention to the issue of the optometric workforce and how we plan for the future eye care needs of the community over the next 10 to 20 years. It’s an issue that we all have a stake in – if we have too many optometrists, then the market will flood, incomes will fall, career satisfaction will likely go with it and we’ll end up with a poorly-paid, poorly-motivated workforce. Not good.
Equally, if we have too few optometrists, communities will suffer through a lack of services, governments will find that programs they wish to implement are hampered because of a skills shortage and then they may look to implement measures to increase supply – which will almost certainly lead to an over-supply! Back to not good.
The awards will provide financial assistance to promote excellence in optometry in Tasmania and to encourage continuing professional development
Through the profession taking a leading role, we hope to bring some clear thought and careful planning to the process, with what we hope will be an outcome that delivers a sustainable workforce, but without the wild over/under supply problems that can occur.
It is a long-term project. Here in NSW we see a looming issue in rural areas of the state in about seven to 10 years’ time.
By acting now, we hope to have plans in place well before the crisis arises. We’ll keep you posted.
We want to be sure we are providing the best possible services to members. To do this we need your help. My plea to all members to kick off 2012 – please complete the Member Feedback Survey, which will arrive soon to your inbox.
The survey will ask what you value about the Association, what you don’t value and what you think we could do better. It will also gather data about our membership – where you work, how many hours you work, your clinical interests and where you trained. Then – most importantly – it will ask what you want from your Association so we can plan our activities to meet member needs.
I encourage you to spare 10 minutes to help us do a better job for you. As a member Association we exist to serve your needs so please let us know how we are doing and what we can do to ensure you really value being a part of the Association. There will be prizes to help encourage your participation!
Once the survey data is compiled we
will report the results back to members.
Travelling CPD Sessions
In February, we will commence a travelling CPD / dinner session for members. The ‘Diabetes Work-up’ session will be presented in four metropolitan and four rural locations kicking off in Geelong on Tuesday 21 February. Dr. Bang Bui has prepared the workshop session and we are sure it will provide an educational and fun evening.
Our annual Careers Expo will be held in Melbourne on Sunday 4 March. The Careers Expo is a chance for optometry employers to meet fourth and final year Melbourne University optometry students. Exhibiting is free to members. This is a chance to talk with the students and impress them with information about your particular practice. This is a must for members thinking of employing a young optometrist in the next few years. Please contact the office if you would like to exhibit.
Member Policy Forum
Next month we will roll out a Member Policy Forum on the topic of Technology in Optometry practice. The session will be held from 10am – 2.30pm on Wednesday 28 March. Contact the office on (AUS) 03 9652 9100 if you are interested in attending this session.
After the success of our first webinar last year we are planning four free member webinars for 2012. Stay tuned for more information about this and other activities – and please fill out your survey as soon
as you receive it.
Looking forward to hearing your views about the Association.
Imagine lying on a beach while sipping a cold beverage, enjoying mouth watering, sumptuous cuisine from a wide range of exquisite restaurants and bars or spending a fun-filled day exploring one of the Gold Coast’s many theme parks…
Imagine enjoying all of this while also fulfilling your CPD requirements. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Australian Vision Convention (AVC) 2012 offers all of this and more. No financial penalty for registering after the Early Bird close: a low AUD$725 registration fee gets you into Australia’s largest optometric exhibition, a chance to win thousands of dollars in Exhibition Hall Passport prizes, Essilor’s fantastic cocktail party, Alcon Vision Care’s exciting gala dinner at Seaworld, breakfast sessions each day and a complimentary crèche.
Following on from the success of the dual stream session in 2011, 2012 will include dual stream plenary sessions over the three days, allowing for a wider variety of topics to be included to suit all tastes. And, after many months of planning, discussion and decision making, the OAA QLD/NT Education Committee is proud to present a program sure to satisfy both the professional interests and CPD requirements of all
President Kate Johnson invites optometrists from throughout Australia, New Zealand and beyond to experience what will no doubt be a rewarding AVC from 13–15 April. With a program designed to offer freedom of choice, from a selection of both clinical and non-clinical dual sessions, delegates are sure to enjoy a well-rounded convention presented by both nationally and internationally recognised speakers.
Delegates are also encouraged to enjoy the beautiful Gold Coast while in attendance – take the opportunity to bring the family and stay for the week. With the convention conveniently held at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, located in the heart of Broadbeach, delegates can enjoy a well earned break in the lead up to, or following, the convention in one of Queensland’s most ideal tropical locations.
To secure your spot at AVC, register online at www.optometrists.asn.au/queensland or contact OAA QLD/NT for a registration form: phone (AUS) 07 3839 4411 or email email@example.com.
Tasmania’s Lifestyle Congress (TLC) VIII will again be held at The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel from 24–26 August despite registration enquiries exceeding
the venues capacity in 2011. Alternative venues were investigated but the most suitable possibility was only available during the Tasmanian school holidays.
It is quite possible that TLC will move to a larger venue in 2013 as the alternative venue, the Grand Chancellor, is available a week later than the normal fourth weekend in August. That weekend should not clash with Tasmanian school holidays as government schools in Tasmania will change from three to four terms each year from 2013.
Once again we will have a compelling program of lectures and workshops at TLC this year, including our keynote speaker, Dr. Richard B. Greer from the University of California.
The Tasmanian Optometry Foundation will offer its second year of scholarships in 2012. The awards will provide financial assistance to promote excellence in optometry in Tasmania and to encourage continuing professional development. Financial assistance may be given to registered optometrists working in Tasmania, Tasmanian students undertaking optometric studies or Tasmanians undertaking research
Application forms are available for downloading from the Association’s website www.optometrists.asn.au/tasmania. Applications close 30 June 2012.
The Association will again conduct free eye health and vision screening at Agfest, Tasmania’s major agricultural field days from 3–5 May.
This year, as well as promoting the need for regular eye examinations, our volunteer members working at Agfest
will emphasise eye safety.
2012 is shaping up to be a busy and exciting year in Western Australia as we proceed through a packed schedule of professional development and social events, commencing with a lecture series by the eminent UK vision scientist, Professor Bruce Evans. Prof. Evans is the Director of Research at the Institute of Optometry in London and a visiting Professor at City University and London South Bank. He will lecture in Perth on 27 February.
Planning for WAVE is well and truly underway. Following on from the success of 2011, the conference will again be held at the Perth Exhibition and Convention Centre and will run from 11–12 August. Exhibitor support is looking strong and we expect another great intake of sponsors. Keep an eye out for the full conference program, which will be released in April.
Throughout the year we have planned a number of CPD programs both in metropolitan Perth and outlying suburbs. In recognition of the calibre of our past CPD programs, we have already attracted a full quota of excellent sponsors for 2012. We are now busily working to finalise the topics and speakers.
As you’d expect, planning for so many events across the year is a logistical challenge and requires some flexibility. To accommodate scheduling demands, our annual golf day, which is usually held in March, has been moved to October. The advantage of this is we’re sure to enjoy weather conditions that are far more suited to an afternoon on the green!
I’m pleased to report that our first group of approximately 30 therapeutics-qualified optometrists has now graduated from the course that OAA WA runs in conjunction with the University of New South Wales. Our second group sat their first exams in November last year and is steadily working through the final part of the course.
Attracting optometrists to Western Australia has always been a challenge. We rely on optoms coming in from overseas – particularly the United Kingdom and South Africa – as well as optoms coming in from interstate to fill demand. Right now, the State is on the precipice of another mining boom. With this we anticipate an influx of workers and, therefore, a growth in demand for optometrists.
At the OAA WA we are working hard to create an accurate picture of exactly what this demand will be so that we can begin to attract the resources necessary to fulfil eye care demand. We’re doing this by conducting surveys and working with the national office to review previous reports. While there is no hope of a school of optometry being established in WA, with an understanding of future requirements we can actively go out and recruit student optoms at expos in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. The first round of student expos takes place in April and May and you can be sure that this year, OAA WA will have a strong presence there.
A Sentiment to Reflect on
Back in November we officially opened our eye clinic at the St. Patrick’s Community Centre in Perth. To commemorate the opening we commissioned a plaque with the following quotation from Mary MacKillop (also known as Saint Mary of the Cross): “Never see a need without doing something about it.”
At the OAA WA we believe that this quotation is at the centre of everything we do – it’s a sentiment that means so much on many levels and one that we often like to reflect on.
Melissa on Maternity Leave
Our much-loved administrator, Melissa Platt, has taken maternity leave and is due to have her baby at the end of February. This is Melissa’s first baby and we wish her and her husband, all the very best as they move into the next phase of their lives together.
Melissa has made an enormous contribution to our division and we’re looking forward to seeing her back here later in the year.
While our Blue Sky Congress was on way back in November, it feels as if it took place just a few days ago. The close of our annual congress always reminds me of the departure of close friends after a great weekend: there is a palpable buzz in the air, beaming faces, hugs and kisses and just a smattering of nostalgia as another Blue Sky comes to an end and the parrot suit gets relegated to the dress up box! Delegates tell me it is the friendly and relaxed style, where we have a bit of fun but still keep quality and world-class education as the primary and non-negotiable key feature of Blue Sky that keeps them coming back. They love the surprises and entertainment underpinning the sensational CPD program. Blue Sky 2011 was our third consecutive sell-out congress and though we hate turning delegates away, at this point in time we have not yet sourced the optimum Adelaide venue that provides more space while maintaining the feel that is quintessentially Blue Sky.
Blue Sky has a reputation for innovation and we work hard to listen to our delegates, sponsors and speakers, and to make changes that will create a better experience. Last year, 47 per cent of delegates responded to our Survey Monkey, which is encouraging in itself and a reflection, I believe, on our willingness to respond to feedback. In 2010 we had a few teething issues at the new venue and I was delighted to see from the feedback that our strategies this year had effectively resolved these.
Blue Sky was the first congress to introduce keypad assessments five years ago and they still get a deafening thumbs-up from 93 per cent of delegates. I encourage all interstate conferences to consider using keypad assessment for the future. This year we brought back memory sticks by popular demand (to loud applause) and also continued our delegate Notes booklet, which was a standout improvement in 2009.
Lecture Series a Success
The Ron and Randall team (affectionately known to the Blue Sky team as the “Ren and Stimpy” of optometry) was undoubtedly the draw card this year, with over 90 per cent of delegates rating every one of their lectures as “brill”. The way they stand back-to-back, focussing on opposite screens and delivering such seamless banter that plays beautifully off each other is a joy to experience. They spend every minute of downtime at their computers continuously researching and updating their lectures in a way that I have never seen before with any of our headliners! Our local ophthalmologists did us proud on the rating scale too, with Celia Chen, Darcy Economos and James Muecke rating highly on the interesting and useful scale – proof that we have some great educational talent in SA. This year, we will happily share our local optometrists nationwide via our webinar series.
At Blue Sky 2012 we will attempt a more sophisticated approach with a James Bond theme as Blue Sky “goes undercover” but Monkey bingo will be back as Dr. Jim Thimons takes the stage as our keynote speaker. So pop 16 & 17 November in your diaries, hunt out your tuxedo (or equivalent) and get in shape to beat the rush – registration is just around the corner in March.