The 2012 Southern Regional Congress in Melbourne has now concluded and according to the organisers, both exhibitors and delegates reported high levels of satisfaction.
“We had over 1,100 delegates, a little down from last year, but we’re really happy with that,” said Terri Smith, Chief Executive Officer of the Optometrists Association Victoria. “People came from around Australia – 60 per cent from Victoria and about 20 per cent were from New South Wales. We had 50 people from New Zealand, delegates from Darwin, Perth – from everywhere.”
Last year, eye care conferences attracted unusually high attendance rates, due to compulsory CPD points required for registration, so this year it has not been surprising to see numbers taper off a little.
and the colourful Alan Saks, who delivered a very insightful and entertaining breakfast seminar on the first morning
Broad Exhibitor Mix
There was a broad mix of 62 exhibitors on site, including frame distributors, lens companies, technology suppliers, not-for-profits and mivision.
“My sense is that the exhibitors were very happy. There was a great, positive atmosphere in the exhibitor hall and delegates had more time this year to spend viewing the exhibits and talking to suppliers,” said Ms. Smith.
She said this was due to providing delegates with more options to gain CPD points and longer breaks between sessions. “We emphasised that with a total of 60 points available over the three day congress, delegates didn’t need to rush to attend every educational session – they could pick and choose presentations and workshops to attend, and then have time to spend in the halls,” she said.
She said this year most delegates used the keypads at the end of each educational session to answer assessment questions and in doing so gain more CPD points. Additionally, many delegates embraced the new SRC app and live Twitter feeds. “We introduced some exciting technology for those interested and we were pleased to see that 700 delegates accessed the app.” Ms. Smith added that to cater to all delegates, electronic congress information will always be supported with hard copy programs and information packs.
Strong Speaker Contingent
A strong contingent of speakers from Australia and from overseas, presented the latest in eye care to eager audiences across the three day congress. Highlights included presentations by Prof. Nathan Efron, Richard Lindsay and Jessica Chi on ocular surface health and contact lens care, a session on diabetes and the eyes by Prof. Richard MacIsaac and one on the role optometrists can play in supporting smokers to quit by Rebecca Riley. American eye care professionals Jill Autry OD and Mark Dunbar OD separately presented seminars and worked together to deliver a breakfast session: ‘Beware the Unilateral Red Eye’ which was attended by an impressive 600 delegates. As did Michelle Ho, Margaret Lam, Mark Hinds and the colourful Alan Saks, who delivered a very insightful and entertaining breakfast seminar on the first morning for Johnson & Johnson on ‘Optometrists are from Venus, Patients are from Mars’, to a packed house. Legally blind visual artist, Erica Tandori presented her insights to delegates and exhibited her artworks in the exhibition hall.
Once again Transitions hosted the Congress gala dinner, this year in a banquet room festooned with kites and with images of nature projected against the walls, referencing the company’s latest television commercial. Guests were entertained by the extraordinary duo Soul Mystique whose dance and quick change act has mesmerised audiences around the world and last year earned them recognition as Entertainer of the Year Finalist at the Australian Event Awards.
During the evening, Bob Lees, Chairman of Optometry Giving Sight, presented the 2012 OGS Chairman’s Awards to John Nicola, Managing Director of Optique Line who recently completed an extraordinary ultra-marathon event running 248kms across the Sahara Desert, in the process raising over AUD$21,000 for the charity. Additionally, he presented the Eyre Eye Centre in South Australia with the Practice of the Year Award in recognition of funds raised through practice giving programs. Dancing continued late, late, late into the night.
In 2013 SRC will take place from 1 – 3 June.