The state offices are always hard at work representing the many needs of their members. This month Optometry Australia‘s state divisions have been developing their relationships with other health professionals to build stronger patient pathways.
I have just come back from working with our Tasmanian colleagues at Agfest, Tasmania’s biggest show event that runs across three days in May and attracts over 75,000 people to the Launceston area of the state.
Optometry Australia’s job was to run a vision screening program across the three days, and over 600 people came through the stand.
Agfest is a great example of why it is so important for the various divisions of Optometry Australia to work together and the unexpected synergies that can come out of an event which seems to bear little direct relevance to members in NSW/ACT.
Agfest provided a great example of why it is so important for the various divisions of Optometry Australia to work together
One of the unique features of Agfest is that all the Tasmanian MPs and Senators set up a stand there and are very happy to talk to people about all manner of issues. On Friday it was pretty cold and wet so I wandered around to the Liberal’s tent and there was Senator Eric Abetz standing around watching the drizzle. We stood and talked for around 10 minutes about what Optometry Australia was doing at Agfest, why we saw it as important and a range of issues to do with health care and optometry in particular.
It was great to converse in a very informal and relaxed setting, away from advisers and particular agendas. The opportunity to meet with Senator Abezt wasn’t a one off. Geoff Squibb, our Tasmanian CEO, knows just about everyone worth knowing in Tasmanian politics. This creates wonderful opportunities for us to raise issues with a wide variety of MPs in a way which isn’t ordinarily available to organisations like Optometry Australia.
And we don’t even have to make a donation to anyone!
Like most things, Australian politics, while state-based, is a very close-knit entity. We need to take every opportunity to put our thoughts to our parliamentarians – and events like Agfest give us a chance to do that in a very cost-effective and engaging way.
Throughout the year Victorian division staff represent the crucial role undertaken by our members across the state in providing primary eye care. We do this in many different ways, and across a wide range of forums but always pushing the same message – optometrists are extensively trained and skilled in the provision of eye health services.
This month I will once again meet with the Health Sector Group. This small group gets together four times a year to talk about issues of common interest and concern. Its members are my counterparts from the pharmaceuticals, dental, physiotherapy and medical associations. In the Heath Sector Group meetings it is not difficult to find agreed conversation topics – and to deal respectfully with differences when they arrive. This is an important forum for me to promote optometry and look for opportunities to work together. AMA Victoria has a new CEO, Frances Mirabella. I am looking forward to some interesting discussions with Frances.
I will also attend a steering committee meeting of the Vision Initiative. The Vision Initiative (VI) is currently undertaking a Victorian state government funded program with the goal to improve referral pathways to increase eye testing rates.
The Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Darebin, Greater Geelong, Greater Shepparton and Latrobe have been identified as having a higher proportion of people aged over 40; smokers; people with diabetes; and people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander decent; as well as a large number of people who do not have regular eye tests. This puts these LGAs at increased risk of eye disease.
The Vision Initiative is working in each of these LGAs to deliver pilot projects which aim to strengthen relations between the health and eye health sector and increase the number of at-risk people having an eye test. In each LGA, participating health and eye health professionals (including pharmacists, GPs, practice nurses, optometrists, ophthalmologists and low vision and rehabilitation services) will work together to identify people at risk of eye disease and encourage them to have regular eye tests to reduce their risk of avoidable blindness and vision loss.
Targeted communication campaigns focussed on the importance of regular eye tests and key prevention activities are also planned across each LGA to those at-risk of eye disease. The Vision Initiative will work with local organisations, community groups, health centres and local media to deliver the campaigns.
At the Vision Initiative Steering Committee there are representatives from RANZCO and Optometry Australia; the Centre for Eye Research (representing the research sector); Diabetes Australia, Guide Dogs Victoria and Vision Australia (representing service users) and pharmacy and medicine. This joint effort provides a great opportunity to improve eye health outcomes in the community and it is just one of the ways that Optometry Australia is out there advocating the importance of optometry… and as an added bonus occasionally meetings are held at Guide Dogs Victoria and there is a puppy to be held!
North Queensland Vision
North Queensland Vision (NQV) is again shaping up to be the answer for those amongst us looking for an excuse to migrate north. Join us in Cairns in October to kick start your summer. Throw on some thongs, bring your towel and join us in gorgeous tropical Cairns for NQV on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 October at the Hilton Cairns Hotel. How can anyone say no to a gorgeous long weekend in tropical North Queensland?
This is a great opportunity for you to enjoy some well-earned relaxation in addition to meeting your continuing professional development requirements. The answer quite simply is… North Queensland Vision. For more information or to lock in your tropical getaway, please contact us on (AUS) 07 3839 4411, via email at email@example.com or visit www.optometrists.asn.au/qld
Employment Expo Opens Eyes on the Future
More than 70 fourth and fifth year QUT optometry students joined us on Monday 19 May at Victoria Park, Brisbane for the QLD/NT Division’s Employment Expo. All employers in attendance, excited by the turnout of students, enjoyed an evening of valuable conversations with a group of passionate and enthusiastic future leaders of the profession.
During the evening students were treated to presentations from Vice President and 2009 graduate Ms. Marissa Megaloconomos on ‘First years out’ and Mr. Jonathan Mamaril from NB Lawyers on ‘Employment Contracts – secure your dreams without sacrificing them’. Ms. Megaloconomos shared her trials and tribulations and her successes and painted a very bright and hopeful future for the profession, inspiring all in attendance to pursue their passion for eye health. Mr. Mamaril gave advice on employment contracting and what students should expect to see and look out for. He provided some key contracting tips, allowing students to enter into contract negotiation with their eyes open.
With such a great display of enthusiasm and passion amongst all students in attendance, it was clear their focus is set on securing their future by starting their careers on the right track. And with employers committed to empowering our graduates to be the best they can be, this year’s Employment Expo was an outstanding success.
SA’s new Professional Hubs are now up and running, with seven intimate groups of members getting their heads together on a regular basis to discuss their professional challenges, share ideas and create possible solutions. Needless to say there is also plenty of laughter as members share those infamous “I had a patient…” stories over a glass of red! Members elect to join a Hub of their particular interest (e.g. Mums and Bubs, for working mums juggling their optometry career and motherhood) and the Hub is limited to just 10 members to ensure that the group is sufficiently intimate to become relaxed and trusted.
Also new in SA are our CPD master classes. These have been developed in response to the bewildering range of free, supplier-driven CPD on offer in recent years, which of course is limited by the OBA to just 10 claimable points each year. Our master classes are limited to just 40 members who are keen to shift up a professional gear. They are a high impact, high energy tutorials with a range of experts where the delegates circulate in groups of 10.
Much debate though there may be about the need for new optometry graduates, the reality is that we have a great bunch graduating from Flinders University later this year. If you’re looking to recruit one of these budding professionals, join us at our inaugural Employment Expo on 15 July.
Preparations for the optometric year’s wackiest conference are well on track with SA Blue Sky Congress 2014 ready to educate, motivate and entertain even the most travel-weary delegate. Our optometry stream is shaping up nicely with headliner Dr. Richard Madonna and supporting acts from A/Prof. Beata Bajorek, Dr. Aanchal Gubta, Dr. Ann Webber, Dr. Jo Black, Dr. Deepa Taranath, A/Prof. Pooshan Navathe and health media personality Dr. ‘Feel Good’ Sally Cockburn.
Our spanking new education stream for optical dispensers and dispensing staff is also looking rosy, with optical dispensing guru Mr. David Wilson as our lead educator, backed up by Mr. Grant Hannaford and others primed to stretch your optic expertise.
Visit www.optometrists.asn.au/southaustralia or Ph: (AUS) 08 7070 2615
Thanks to optometrists and their staff who volunteered their time this year to attend Agfest, Tasmania’s largest annual agricultural event. With their help, Optomety Tasmania was able to screen over 600 people who attended the show.
Over three days we tested for vision acuity and colour, we used Amsler grids to test for macular degeneration, tonometers to test for IOPs, retinal camera testing and for the first time, we had idMed using their newly introduced Clearpath, which scans the surface of the eye for glucose as a predictor for diabetes. Rob Goulray from idMed reported that his team scanned a total of 257 patients with the ClearPath and identified 15 people that need to follow up on their diabetes risk with their GP. Based upon the clinical studies, approximately two thirds of these people will receive a diagnosis of diabetes or pre-diabetes.
As a result of our screening program we found a lot of people who really didn’t have adequate vision to be driving home. Many farmers in particular needed vision correction and yet they weren’t wearing glasses – which of course raises concerns because these are the people making up chemical sprays for stock and crops etc, in accordance with instructions printed in small type on the back of packaging.
We also found that a lot of visitors to our tent were wearing ready-made glasses to help offset vision loss from age and in doing so, weren’t receiving a proper eye check. We took the opportunity to explain to these people that glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetes related diseases are a major cause of blindness and to remind them of the dangers of allowing early signs to go undetected.
Having run our Agfest awareness campaign for several years now I’m pleased to say we are getting the message through – many people who visited us at the tent told us that they are now having their eyes tested by an optometrist every two years.
TLC 2014: 22 – 24 August
With Agfest behind us we now turn our attention to TLC in August. This year the program is packed with the country’s highest profile speakers in eye care: Prof. Nathan Efron; Dr. Laura Downie (who will present the Keith Mackriell lecture); Adrian Bell, Paula Katalinic; Dr. Xavier Fagan, Dr. Andrew Traill; Pierce Carozzi and Dr. Paul McCartney. Dr. Sharon Bentley, Dr. Alan Johnston and Graham Sheil will present at the low vision conference on Saturday 23 August. You can find the full program on our website visitwww.optometrists.asn.au/Tasmania
In late April the full Optometry Board of Australia came to Perth as a part of their efforts to meet with registrants nationally. While here, a networking evening with Optometry WA provided an excellent opportunity to meet with the board, ask questions about the Board’s regulatory role and seek assistance of a personal nature in understanding the registration process.
This was a successful night that facilitated a positive exchange of information and fellowship. On behalf of the WA Board and its members, I would especially like to thank Colin Waldron as OBA Chair for coming West as well as WA OBA Board Member Garry Fitzpatrick for helping organise and involve Optometry WA this way
Young Optometry Group
The Optometry WA Board continually looks at how to improve. Strategic planning is a part of that process. As a result of our planning day in April, an exciting new initiative is now in train – with the establishment of a young optometry group within the membership. Optometrists in their first 5–8 years of practice are encouraged to join. The aim is to provide relevant, targeted assistance, including educational sessions and networking events, and to encourage the exchange of opinion. This is an important program for Optometry WA because these members are the future of the profession – we need to value what they think, to give them a chance to have their say and to make their impact on the future of optometry. If you meet the criteria and are interested in joining the group or are keen to get involved with the planning process, please contact the WA office. Keep an eye out over the next few weeks for more information.
As a part of Optometry WA commitment to helping the community and those in need, on Friday 13 June we will conduct Homeless Community Connect Victoria Park in conjunction with Riverview Community Services. This event has been running for a number of years and although it’s a smaller event than the one we run with the City of Perth each year, it is equally important to help where possible. Once again this event is being well supported by our membership and the supporting companies. Thank you.
As the premier education event for the WA profession, WAVE continues to build on its reputation by providing relevant and practical CPD for the profession. WAVE is the only Optometry WA run conference of its type, run for the benefit of its members and the profession.
This year we have again enlisted the services of a number of high profile Australian eye care professionals who will speak on topics ranging from glaucoma through to ocular antibiotics and kids’ vision screening.
Optometrist Adrian Bell will present his advice for making children’s examinations more comfortable for practitioners and their patients; and in a second presentation will cover off tests and techniques you might use to analyse vision function with a child as distinct from an adult patient.
Making his WAVE debut, Professor Algis Vingrys from Melbourne University will present on several glaucoma related topics including ‘Glaucoma in your practice: optometry’s role’. His presentation will incorporate international trends in terms of glaucoma management as well as the role optometry can play in detecting, treating and managing these patients.
Ocular manifestations are among the first to appear and the easiest to assess due to routine slit lamp examination. WAVE favourite Mark Roth will be presenting on why optometrists are ideally placed to play an important role in managing eye disease.
Another WAVE favourite making her return after several years away is Associate Professor and Academic Pharmacist, University of Technology Sydney, Beata Bajorek. Among several topics, she will speak on ‘Anti-microbial resistance: reality with ocular antibiotics, recognising adverse reactions to therapeutic treatment and knowing what to do’. Graham Lakkis will present an OCT Clinical Workshop on ‘Managing tricky cases – interpretation and management’; and Jennifer Long will speak on ‘Ergonomics for optometrists – more than backs, chairs and computers’.
WAVE 2014 takes place in Perth from August 15–17. Visit www.optometrists.asn.au and click on WA on the map.